First drive: Audi Q5Motor Reviews Motor News
Audi’s Q5 has been Australia’s most successful mid-class premium SUV dating back to its introduction here in early 2009.
But with the competition hotting up, Audi has given the all-wheel-drive Q5 a mid-life injection of goodies, extending beyond the obligatory mild styling makeover to a quartet of new and revised engines, added assistance systems and infotainment gear.
Underlining the competitiveness of the market, the new stuff comes as value added, with hardly any change to pricing as Audi primes the Q5 to meet the challenge of the eye-catching "baby" Range Rover Evoque, second-generation BMW X3, solid-selling Volvo XC60 and the uptown Japanese Lexus RX . Audi says the added value amounts to about $6500 with the four-cylinder models, and $7000 for the sixes.
It was a bit of a stretch to show off all the shiny new upgrades in hot, dusty and remote Parachilna in the centre of South Australia - after all most Q5 owners tend to hover around the large coastal cities. But Audi wanted to quietly reassure us that this SUV doesn’t scare easily and will roam a little further from its natural urban habitat than some other European four-wheel drives. We may have felt a little more settled if the Q5 came with something better than a space-saver spare.
The features that attracted buyers to the Q5 remain - dynamic and passive safety (eight airbags), smart looks, pleasantly quiet, rapid and relatively economical progress, stylish leather-trimmed cabin, good 540-litres cargo space (extending to 1560 litres with the rear seats tucked away) bottleholders in all doors, and standard roof rails. But now there is a whole lot more good gear.
The visuals include a revised grille, bumpers, air inlets, front fog lights and new 18-inch alloys. From the rear, there are flat-bottomed exhaust tips and a redesigned bumper and diffuser. The xenon-plus headlights (standard on the V6 models) now have a continuous strip of LED daytime running lights around the edge with LEDs at the rear too. The LEDs cut through dust, and may well be seen from space.
Inside, enhancements include a special multi-function wheel just for the Q5, a re-designed MMI (Multi Media Interface) with improved voice control functionality, fewer buttons and Bluetooth audio streaming. There are four different interior colours, with endless opportunities to customise and tailor trim and tones to the owner’s taste.
The new driver information system with rest recommendation is standard, detecting that the driver’s concentration is fading, and recommending a tea break.
The most significant changes are to engines and some ancillaries, which result in an overall fuel economy improvement of up to 15 per cent, even though in most cases power has also been pushed up.
More efficient electro-mechanical steering is now standard across the Q5 range, along with new auto start/stop, brake energy recovery, more efficient S tronic transmissions, and the addition of an Efficiency mode to the Drive Select system, which allows owners to custom-tune their vehicle’s technical components - throttle, steering, transmission, air conditioning - to suit their personal preferences at any time.
The two TDI engines (2.0- and 3.0 litre) and the two TFSI engines (2.0- and 3.0 litre) combine direct fuel injection with turbocharging or supercharging.
Various transmissions are mated to the engines. A sporty seven-speed S tronic is standard for the TDI engines, while the slick-shifting eight-speed tiptronic is offered in the petrol-engined Q5s.
Those on a generous budget might opt for the new and energetic 3.0 TFSI engine, a supercharged petrol V6 which producing 200kW with 400 Nm of torque. So effortless and smooth, it moves the Q5 from standstill to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds, while managing a combined fuel figure of 8.5 litres per 100km.
But the variant likely to prove most popular is the revised 2.0 TDI developing a respectable 130kW (up 5kW), and 380Nm (up 30Nm) but also now boasting a brilliant 6.1L/100km diesel fuel consumption.
Drive sampled all models of the Q5, but had the chance to use this energetic enough 2.0 TDI on- and off-road. In varying conditions, ranging from fast highway work to an extended run along a gibber-strewn and sometimes sandy track, it returned 9.0L/100km. Off road, we played with the stability control switch, which Audi tells us throttles back on anti-lock brake sensitivity and pushes up the stability system threshold. Though hardly scientific, out conclusion was that we couldn’t really feel a great difference.
Remarkable in this version and others is the level of noise and vibration refinement. Engine noise is barely heard and then there’s no real hint that it is diesel or petrol. Road noise and tyre roar are beautifully suppressed, cocooning occupants from all but some fierce wind whispers.
There are not too many corners out in that part of the country but leaving Adelaide via the winding roads through the hills, we were reminded of the 1900kg Q5’s poise and balance and tenacious grip and thought the new steering did a nice enough job. With a revision in anti-roll bars, damper and spring rates, the ride comfort has been enhanced, our backsides also appreciating well-designed and bolstered seats.
A quick acknowledgement too of the other two engines.
The significantly overhauled 3.0 TDI now generates 180 kW of power and all of 580 Nm of torque. It accelerates the Q5 from zero to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and continues to pull easily and hard.
The all new 2.0-litre TFSI impresses with its interesting technology and excellent performance and efficiency. It produces 165 kW, yet it has a combined fuel consumption of just 7.9L/100 km.
Apart from the equipment already mentioned, even the starter Q5 has keyless entry and start, leather seats, 10-speaker sound with sub woofer, light and rain sensors, front and rear mats (don’t laugh - many cars don’t), real inlays (wood, aluminium), towing preparation (wiring, etc), tyre-pressure monitoring, and roof rail detection which adjusts the stability control for loads up to 75 kg). An electric tailgate was added last year along with a music interface and Parking System-plus.
Audi continues to offer even more high-tech options that can be integrated into the Drive Select control system. Most innovative perhaps is a further developed radar-based adaptive cruise control system, which monitors and regulates the distance between the Q5 and the vehicle ahead.
Below 30 km/h, and if a collision is likely, it triggers hard braking. Its active lane assist system detects a wandering driver, and actively intervenes to keep the car between the white lines. This option, aimed at those with concentration issues and poor reflexes, is $1550.
Really though, the base diesel Q5 2.0 TDI variant has the refinement, comfort, dynamics, driveability and features to satisfy most owners.
Q5 2.0 TDI quattro with S tronic $62,200*
Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro with tiptronic $62,900*
Q5 3.0 TFSI quattro with tiptronic $74,100*
Q5 3.0 TDI quattro with S tronic $75,500*
*plus on-road and dealer costs