If it ain’t bro­ken...

The Q5 is ar­guably the best Audi. Full stop

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - PAUL POT­TINGER CARS­GUIDE ED­I­TOR paul.pot­tinger@cars­guide.com.au

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-wheeldrive— that is, proper qu­at­tro as op­posed to the Haldex setup 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 four­cylin­der hatch­backs.

Too many drive-se­lect

DE­SIGN

SAFETY

DRIV­ING

pack­ages do too lit­tle. This one makes dis­tinct and worth­while changes to en­gine re­sponse and sus­pen­sion set­tings. 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. Five stars, all the kit, plus the ac­tive ca­pa­bil­ity to en­sure the pas­sive de­vices will never be trou­bled. Hu­man stu­pid­ity not­with­stand­ing, of course. We re­quested a diesel for our drive 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 in 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 lit­tle 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.

Fresh look: Thenew model sports some sub­tle vis­ual tweaks

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