2009 Audi Q5 (© Bruce Whitaker / MSN Autos)Click to enlarge picture

The wraps come off the new Audi Q5 at the Beijing Motor Show.

On the eve before the opening of the 2008 Beijing Motor Show, Audi held a special event to host the world debut of the all-new Q5. With this new model, the German car company hopes to grab a share of one of the fastest growing segments in America, the luxury crossover SUV.

The styling of the Q5 fits perfectly into the Audi lineup, with its trademark grille and use of LED running lights, introduced with the R8 and now found on the latest Audis. In the case of the Q5, the LEDs are above the headlights rather than below.

View Pictures:  Audi Q5 in Beijing

The Q5 has a sporty appearance, with a wide stance, pronounced fender flares and available 20-inch wheels. The models on display in Beijing were fitted with both stylish standard alloys as well as bright chromed wheels.

The clamshell cargo hatch is similar to that on the larger Q7, providing both a wide opening for easy loading while needing little space behind the vehicle to raise the hatch. Split taillights, like those on the Q7, leave lights visible even with the hatch open. Inside, the cargo area can be expanded by either sliding the rear seats forward or folding them flat. Tracks in the floor allow for adjustable tie-downs, and a ski pass-through in the rear seat provides for longer objects.

Watch Video:  Beijing Motor Show Highlights

The rear seats are quite roomy for two adults — three would be a tight fit. Both the front and rear seats felt comfortable if firm. Up front, the instrument panel and controls are similar to those found in the new A4, including a large information screen and the latest generation of the Multi-Media Interface (MMI). An optional flat wood trim complements the leather for a luxurious touch, aided by optional heated and cooled cupholders.       

International Market
While a number of different engine options are available for the European and Asian markets, the Q5 will be available exclusively with a 270-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 when it goes on sale in North America early in 2009. The Q5 will offer an adjustable suspension, and Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel-drive system will be standard.

Message Board: Will new premium crossovers like the Q5 eventually replace full-size luxury SUVs?

This car is not just for America, and it was no coincidence that the Q5 was shown for the first time in Beijing. In the last year sales in China have surpassed U.S. sales, making China the second biggest market for Audi next to Germany. It is interesting to note that with sales exceeding 100,000 units in China last year, more than 90,000 of those vehicles were built in China.

We saw plenty of evidence of Audi’s popularity during our time in Beijing. It seemed as though the German automaker had planted cars on every street in the country’s capital — typically the A6, which is Audi’s biggest seller in China — and the Audi stand at the show was constantly overflowing with media and other show attendees.

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