“The Audi Q5 is the sports car of the SUV landscape, and the perfect vehicle for an active lifestyle – it is progressive and dynamic, spacious, multifunctional and comfortable.” This is what Audi had to say when they launched their Q5 SUV earlier this year. We covered over 600km in Audi’s Q5 3.0 TDI Quattro S tronic to decide for ourselves.
Chunky, bold and solid. These are the words that come to mind when we look at the Audi Q5. Huge 20-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, high shoulder line, large single-frame front grille and stubby rear-end, define the Q5′s presence on the road. The LED day-time running lights in front, and tail-lights at the rear, further accentuate the lines and contours of the Q5, making it one stylish and elegant SUV – not simply a down-sized Q7. However, some features are hidden from view, such as a video camera mounted next to the tailgate lever, as well as lights beneath the side mirrors, which illuminate the ground next to the car at night. Despite what its proportions may suggest, the Q5 has the lowest drag coefficient in its class of just 0,33 Cd.
Inside, our Q5 test vehicle was dripping with luxuries, however, they merely served to enhance what is already a superbly appointed and high quality interior. Looking beyond these optional luxuries, such as the panoramic sunroof, satellite navigation, park distance control with camera, bluetooth cellphone preparation and voice command recognition, the Audi Q5 offers its occupants a supremely comfortable environment, with enough support, head and leg room to rival any executive saloon. Which is no surprise really, as the Q5 is built upon Audi’s Modular Longitudinal Platform (MLP) shared with that of the A4 sedan and A5 coupe. From a drivers perspective, all controls are within easy reach and found in logical positions. The Q5 provides ample visibility from all angles and coupled with the park distance control, as standard equipment, makes driving in town anything but intimidating. Audi’s third-generation Multi Media Interface (MMI) system, features a full colour, hi-resolution screen and works well with the joystick controller. Admittedly it took us a bit of time to get used to the system, but we managed to find our way around the menu’s and use the sat-nav without begging for help from a 5-year old. Speaking of which, if we did have to ask one – and once they’d finished teaching us how to connect our cellphone via bluetooth – there is plenty of space for them and their mates in the boot. 540-litres of luggage space can be increased to 1560-litres with the rear seats folded down – more than enough space for the majority of your cargo needs.
What can we say, we were surprised and impressed with the ride and handling of the Audi Q5 3.0 TDI. Riding 200 mm above the ground and weighing in at 1 865 kg, we did not expect the ‘compact’ SUV to handle the way the Q5 does. The steering is accurate, although without providing much feedback. Body roll is minimal and with the huge 255/45 R20 sized tyres biting into the road, the Q5 is able to negotiate turns at a surprising rate. The athleticism of the Audi Q5 is partly due to the Audi Drive Select (ADS) system. The push-button system on the centre console allows the driver to choose between comfort, dynamic, and auto settings. Switching between these settings creates a noticeable change in throttle response, gear change points, the electronically controlled suspension damping, and the power-steering ratio. When in ‘dynamic’ mode the Q5 responds crisply to steering, throttle and gear change inputs, providing genuine car-like handling, which coupled with Quattro all-wheel drive, inspires confidence and spirited driving – even in a diesel.
As we mentioned, the ADS system is only part of the equation that makes the Q5 the best compact SUV we’ve tested, to date. The other part is the 3,0-litre TDI diesel, which pushes out 176 kW and 500 N.m of torque from just 1500 rpm. Quiet, refined, plenty of power and torque, and relatively frugal consumption make the 3,0-litre TDI a benchmark engine in our book. To put the torque figure in perspective, the Audi R8 5.2 FSI Quattro we tested last month, produces just 30 N.m more, but you have to step on the gas to the tune of 6500 rpm to unleash it all. Usually you’d find a torquey engine to be a relaxing drive on the open road, where it would allow you to climb hills or overtake without the fuss of changing down a gear or two. But with the Q5 this is your experience no matter what the situation. Be it traffic or a cross-country sojourn, the Q5 handles it without batting an eye-lid and ensures you arrive at your destination feeling just as fresh as when you left. We should mention that helping the Q5 deliver its power to the road is a new 7-speed S tronic gearbox. As with all dual-clutch gearboxes these days, it capitalises on the torque of the motor to bring consumption down and provide lightening quick changes. Changes can be made either via the steering mounted paddle shifters or the sequential style motion of the gear level.
What we like…
- Bold, elegant styling with definition provided by the LED lights and flowing lines.
- Brilliant diesel engine provides refinement and performance.
- Audi Drive Select gives you a boulevard cruiser or a performance SUV.
- Comfortable and supportive seats inside a luxurious cabin – its a great place to be.
What we would like…
- A USB/iPod connection as standard – the stereo jack is adequate but doesn’t make use of the MMI system.
- An Audi Q5 parked in our garage please – it really is very very good.
|Base Price||R536 000|
|Warranty||1 year / Unlimited mileage|
|Freeway Plan||5 year / 100 000 km|
|Engine Capacity||2 967 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||6-cylinders, V-formation|
|Power||176 kW @ 4 000 rpm|
|Torque||500 N.m @ 1 500|
|Transmission||7-speed S tronic|
|Drive type||Quattro permanent all-wheel drive|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||225 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||7.5 l/100km (claimed combined)|