Audi Q5 2009 review
Another day, another SUV has popped up to give drivers the warm/fuzzy feeling they can get away from it all.
Except in truth, there's every chance a 2WD utility with a limited-slip diff or a diff-lock could go as far off the beaten track - perhaps even further - than some of these prestige SUVs.
I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the Q5, thinking it would be yet another Audi — and yet another compact SUV — with no real skills for either sealed or unsealed roads.
Not that I doubt the efforts of the German marque, but the SUV brigade is becoming domesticated in the same way that service stations are now supermarkets that sometimes deign to sell fuel.
We're in the 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol four-cylinder, with the S-tronic double-clutch gearbox.
Design and packaging
A shrunken Q7, the Q5 is handsome without being stunning but has a functional cabin full of features.
As a family wagon there's much to like about the Q5 - for example, an automatic tailgate for the parent with arms full of child and/or groceries.
The interior isn't hugely spacious but has enough room to accommodate parents, kids and trappings, and the driver has good vision (although the A-pillars are a little on the thick side).
There’s a heap of equipment on offer, some of its even standard - a 6CD, 10-speaker sound system, climate control, dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags, rain sensing wipers, an anti-glare centre rearvision mirror, stability and hill descent control and automatic headlights.
The test car had plenty of options, including , 18in alloy wheels, adaptive dampers, hill holder, keyless access, powered front seats, satellite navigation system with 6CD chnager sound system and the Audi Music Interface (AMI) system, the electric tailgate, tri-zone climate control, tyre pressure monitoring system and Milano leather trim.
The double-clutch seven-speed gearbox has imperceptible cog changes - even when the car is in dynamic suspension mode, which alters the shift pattern as well as suspension - but the two-litre powerplant needs a proper prod of the sharp throttle pedal to get things underway.
Low-speed work on inclines needs to be done carefully as the double-clutch gearboxes of Audi (and others) are as yet unable to read minds.
Once up and well into the boost from the turbocharger, the two-litre engine keeps the Q5 humming along, without sucking large amounts of PULP in the process - we got 13.5 with some enthusiastic hill driving not doing it any favours.
The other good news for the driver is the 40 front/60 rear torque split, something that's becoming more common in Audis, which helps counteract the nose-heavy nature of some of the models.
The adaptive suspension, which offers acceptable ride quality in comfort mode, firms up considerably in auto mode, as does the steering effort.
Dynamic mode takes the steering from heavy to very heavy, but the body control is good without completely destroying ride quality.
Recent inclement weather through the Adelaide hills gave the Audi road conditions suited to showing off its handling and traction.
Unsealed, rough back roads were dealt with easily - even with the ESP in off-road mode (it can't be turned completely off) the all-wheel drive wasn't phased by the conditions and the little wagon got from A to B in good time for dry conditions, let alone for the damp stormy weather it was enduring.
Twisty bitumen - seasoned with moss, pine needles and the odd branch that succumbed to gales - was handled remarkably well, with dynamic mode keeping body roll in check and the willing engine providing decent pace.
There's no shortage of choice in this segment and the Germans have ample representation - the Q5, even with the options list pushing the price up, is a talented machine that deserves consideration.
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI
Price: from $59,900.
Engine: two-litre DOHC 16-valve intercooled turbcharged direct-injection four-cylinder, requires 95RON.
Transmission: dual-clutch seven-speed automated manual, quattro all-wheel drive, with self-locking centre differential.
Power: 155kW between 4300 & 6000rpm.
Torque: 350Nm between 1500 & 4200rpm.
Performance: 0-100km/h 7.2 seconds. Top speed 222km/h.
Fuel consumption: 8.5 litres/100km, on test 13.5 litres/100km, tank 75 litres.
BMW X3, from $62,200.
Lexus RX350, from $82,900.
Volkswagen Touareg, from $65,490.
Volvo XC60, from $71,950.
Range and Specs
|2.0 TDI Quattro||2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$13,990 – 17,999||2009 Audi Q5 2009 2.0 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Quattro||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$11,990 – 19,990||2009 Audi Q5 2009 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 TDI Quattro||3.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$12,800 – 28,990||2009 Audi Q5 2009 3.0 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|3.2 FSI Quattro||3.2L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$18,810 – 23,870||2009 Audi Q5 2009 3.2 FSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|