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New Audi Q5 3.0 TDI quattro S-tronic review

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Paul Pottinger road tests and reviews the Audi Q5 3.0 TDI quattro S-tronic, with specs, fuel economy and verdict.

Audi Q5 3.0 TDI quattro S tronic 4.5

If not the newest prestige SUV of the year it's still the one to own. Even one immune to the prevailing and seemingly preternatural urge toward wagons with an elevated driving position “gets” Audi's Q5.

I'd cross-shop it against almost any car at the pricepoint. The headliner of the four variant range has - like the lot of them - got the usual negligible visual update but its value and tech enhancements are wholly worthwhile.

VALUE

Wayne Swan's brainless luxury car tax means a luxury SUV will be priced cheaper than any comparable sedan or wagon. The Q5's pricepoints are further held in check by excellent fuel consumption - even the V6 turbo diesel discussed here runs well under the 7.0L/100km cut-off the Greens managed to tack on to this ill-conceived and arbitrary legislation.

The entry 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic (Audis run ever leaner but their nomenclature still threatens to run off the page) starts at $62,200 (the turbo petrol four is $700 more). The whooshing supercharged petrol V6 is $74,100 and the headliner tested here starts at $75,500. Audi claims some $7000 extra value in its standard kit for no price increases - multimedia system linked navigation, reversing camera, electric passenger seat, memory functions in the seats and side mirrors, drive select and hill-hold assist.

Our tester came in at $82,000 with the addition of metallic paint (an absurd $1850), painted lower body and chrome sill strips ($900), 19-inch five-arm star alloys ($1750), Bang & Olufsen sound ($1550) and the useful luggage rail system with load securing set ($450).

TECHNOLOGY

The newest turbo petrol engines are all but eradicating the perceived advantage of diesels in cars but the economy and torque delivery of the latter remain of the essence in heavier SUVs. A favoured example, this 3.0-litre six-cylinder is fettled to shed weight and increase output, to the formidable 180kW/580Nm.

The transmission is a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic, feeding torque-sensing all-wheel drive - that is, proper quattro as opposed to the Haldex set-up on the essentially Volkswagen Q3. At 6.5 seconds from 0-100km/h, the Q5 is sports sedan fast. At 6.4L/100km it's more frugal than most four-cylinder hatchbacks. Too many drive-select packages do too little. This one makes distinct and worthwhile changes to engine response and suspension settings.

DESIGN

Doubtless some will spot the visual tweaks. The point is these are subtle enough so that owners of the first-issue model won't feel aggrieved or suffer at resale time. In line with the latest round of freshened-up Audis, the drive-select mode button is usefully located on the centre stack, a hand span from the gear lever. No need to dive into the multimedia menu to switch from comfort mode to sport. The auto tailgate is so handy and convenient that SUVs lacking it suddenly seem a bit third world.

SAFETY

Five stars, all the kit, plus the active capability to ensure the passive devices will never be troubled. Human stupidity notwithstanding, of course.

DRIVING

We requested a diesel for our drive before last week's launch and expected the worthy four-cylinder. That we had something rather more - having climbed in without scoping the badging - became apparent when the thing got off the mark like an engorged hot hatch and with an almost petrol engine growl. It's a gun donk all right, one that with 600km (and barely more than delivery km on the clock when we got in) returned a little over 7.0L/100km.

This is the point at which Audi reviews tend to get peevish about the dynamics and steering feel not reaching the heights of the drivetrain. That's far less important in an SUV but the disparity also isn't as obvious. In sport mode, this Q5 is as tied down and dynamically adept as 1850kg of kerb weight (plus the heft of four big blokes and their gear) could reasonably be.

The latest version of Audi's electronic steering is a big step in the right direction. There are shifting paddles attached to wheel but this transmission is smart enough to require minimal intervention. The turbo diesel/twin clutch hook-up is apparent only when stepping off the mark, though the combination of lag and the transmission's hesitancy to engage from go is more a characteristic than an outright fault.

VERDICT

To ever more buyers, an Audi means an SUV. This is the best of them.

Audi Q5 3.0 TDI quattro S tronic

Price: $75,500
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Resale: 66 per cent
Service interval: 12 months/15,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel, 180kW/580Nm
Transmission: 7-speed twin-clutch auto; 4WD
Thirst: 6.4L/100km
Dimensions: 4.6m (L), 2.0m (W), 1.6m (H)
Weight: From 1850kg
Spare: Space-saver

RIVALS

BMW X3 28i
Price: from $72,900
Engine: 2-litre, 4-cyl turbo-petrol, 180kW/350Nm
Transmission: 8-spd auto, AWD
Thirst: 7.5L/100km; 98RON; CO2 175g/km

 

 

BMW X3 - see other BMW X3 verdicts

 

 

 

Range Rover Evoque Si4
Price: from $75,895
Engine: 2-litre, 4-cyl turbo-petrol, 177kW/340Nm
Transmission: 6-spd auto, AWD
Thirst: 8.7L/100km; 98RON; CO2 199g/km

 

 

Range Rover Evoque - see other Range Rover verdicts

 

 

Volvo XC60 T6 Teknik
Price: from $73,490
Engine: 3-litre, 6-cyl turbo-petrol, 224kW/440Nm
Transmission: 6-spd auto, AWD
Thirst: 10.5L/100km; 95RON; CO2 251g/km

 

 

Volvo XC60 - see other Volvo XC60 verdicts


 

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 3 comments

  • I think you will find he said “the essentially Volkswagen Q3” I believe meaning the car is basicaly just a VW under the covers, unlike the Q5.

    Q5 Owner of Cornwall, UK Posted on 31 December 2012 12:28am
  • Brainless Swan? and Volkswagen Q3?  Typical News Corp journo, not sure who’s brainless here

    Rupert M of Melbourne Posted on 18 December 2012 9:54am
  • It was actually Peter Costello’s brainless luxury car tax - Wayne Swan just went ahead and added another 8% to it in effect making an already stupid tax worse.

    Rick of Melbourne Posted on 14 December 2012 5:33pm

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