MID-SIZE MAR­VEL

Audi Q5 is lighter, and even bet­ter

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - CRAIG DUFF

BIG things are ex­pected of the new Q5, not least which is re­claim­ing the man­tle as most pop­u­lar mid-size pres­tige SUV. First im­pres­sions in­di­cate big­ger, bet­ter ap­pointed Q5 could pull it off, de­spite se­ri­ous op­po­si­tion from the likes of the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Porsche Ma­can.

A new chas­sis and usual fo­cus on shav­ing weight make the car up to 90kg lighter than its pre­de­ces­sor.

The com­bined ef­fect is make Q5 a bet­ter-han­dling and per­form­ing ve­hi­cle, while cut­ting claimed fuel use 5.3L/100km.

The safety suite is also im­proved, with au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing up to 85km/h, cross-traf­fic as­sist, exit warn­ing to pre­vent “door­ing”

cy­clists, blind-spot warn­ing and semi-au­to­mated park­ing.

The Q5 won’t ap­pear in deal­er­ships un­til late June there will be a pair of four­cylin­der engines at launch.

Start­ing $65,900 be­fore on-roads, the 2.0-litre turbo diesel gets “De­sign” styling pack­age. Stan­dard kit in­cludes 18-inch wheels, pow­ered tail­gate, three-zone air­con, seven-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen with sat­nav and dig­i­tal ra­dio

Ap­ple/An­droid mir­ror­ing. Opt for the Sport line — as Audi ex­pects 70 per cent of buy­ers to do Q5 TDI rises $70,700, adding adap­tive LED head­lamps, sports front seats, adap­tive cruise con­trol with stop and go, 8.3-inch screen, DVD player, 10-speaker au­dio, 20-inch­ers Audi’s ac­claimed dig­i­tal dis­play.

Ini­tially, the 2.0-litre petrol en­gine will be head­line act and is priced from $73,500. With 185kW/370Nm, it pro­pels

Q5 to 100km/h in a lively 6.3 sec­onds.

Sports line stan­dard on the petrol vari­ant. An SQ5 will ar­rive soon af­ter launch.

ON THE ROAD

The Audi is quite the rev­e­la­tion. On coarse-chip roads around Can­berra there’s a whis­per of wind noise at high­way pace; muted mur­mur from 285mm wide tyres and vague im­pres­sion the turbo diesel en­gine has changed note as re­sult of a heavy right foot.

The sub­dued au­di­tory ex­pe­ri­ence is matched by a stu­diously neu­tral drive. There’s more feel through the steer­ing wheel, less roll in cor­ners and very lit­tle re­ac­tion to big bumps pot­holes that would have shunted pre­vi­ous model a off line.

It is still tuned for com­fort rather than out­right cor­ner­ing prow­ess but it ev­i­dent this chas­sis go­ing to let the en­gi­neers de­velop a much more en­gag­ing SQ5.

Keen driv­ers may want tick the box for adap­tive dampers but there’s lit­tle to fault with stan­dard sus­pen­sion at speeds most Q5 driv­ers will ob­serve. Push too hard and a nearimper­cep­ti­ble im­pres­sion of the torque vec­tor­ing mod­er­at­ing the power to help you get through.

In­side out, tech­nol­ogy is easy use and ef­fec­tive, right down the air­con con­trols that no longer have printed in­di­ca­tors for their func­tions.

As your fin­ger falls on but­tons a dig­i­tal dis­play above them high­lights re­spec­tive func­tions — at first be­wil­der­ing, it be­comes in­tu­itive. The con­fig­urable “vir­tual cock­pit” driver’s dis­play is just as hi-tech and just easy to use.

adap­tive cruise con­trol is among the bet­ter ex­am­ples, though there’s no fa­cil­ity for the car tem­po­rar­ily take over steer­ing du­ties.

The only blem­ish on Q5’s char­ac­ter — at least with turbo diesel is the de­lay in re­sum­ing progress lights when auto stop-start ac­tive. The ac­cel­er­a­tor de­pressed, car fires up … and then con­sid­ers its op­tions be­fore tak­ing off.

I switched it off for the sake of san­ity but choos­ing dy­namic mode in sev­en­menu drive se­lect op­tions has the same ef­fect.

It is worth not­ing the TDI uses a fuel ad­di­tive to help curb emis­sions. Audi says

will last be­yond 12 months/15,000km ser­vice interval, so it be sched­uled top-up — own­ers won’t have to worry about when re­fu­elling.

VER­DICT

As re­fined as white sugar, the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Q5 whets the ap­petite for raw ver­sion that is SQ5.

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