Nice proportions, and a clean, cohesive look inside and out make the Q5 feel less like merely a downsized Q7 and instead more like a ground-up new design for those who want a vehicle that's taller and perhaps more versatile than the Audi A4 Avant (wagon).
Up close, the Q5's prominent, rounded nose and sedan-like tail lamps (with LED lighting) walk the best line between sport-ute size and German-wagon efficiency. The Q5's height and stance conveys its capability but, as with the Volvo XC60, it's going for subtle, carlike, and elegant, rather than tough, imposing and upright.
Inside, the 2012 Q5 offers a well-executed driving environment, with the sort of stylish simplicity—trimmed with rich materials that add a luxury undertone—that Audi still seems to do better than anyone else. Just as in most other models from the Audi lineup, there's a rather wide center console, clearly differentiating the driver and front passenger areas, cockpit style, yet the dash itself isn't all that curvy or claustrophobic--rather, it's more upright and forward, helping maximize a sense of space.
Audi frames all this in metallic trim, wood, and coordinated leathers and plastics to give the somewhat cluttered dash a unified look. About our only complaint about the design is that, at least directly around the driver--even with the MMI interface--there are a few too many buttons.