Audi’s soft-roader re­tains its pres­tige shine

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - IAIN CURRY

King of leafy sub­urbs and pri­vate school car parks, Audi’s Q5 has long been the dar­ling of the pres­tige soft-roader mar­ket. This five-seat mid-size SUV is strong on style, build qual­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity, mak­ing it the aspi­ra­tional choice of hip par­ents and life­style-ori­en­tated pro­fes­sion­als.

New ver­sions cost more than $70K but savvy used shop­pers can buy into the Q5 dream for a smidge over $10K. Be care­ful though. At this price you’ll only find high kilo­me­tre ex­am­ples from 2009-10 (when the Q5 was in­tro­duced) and some have well-re­ported oil con­sump­tion, en­gine fail­ure and auto gear­box is­sues.

The facelifted “8R” Q5 landed in De­cem­ber 2012 and owner re­ports sug­gest it’s far more re­li­able. Pre-loved ver­sions, listed as MY13 and later, start from $20K and these older ex­am­ples still look sharp against the com­pletely new Q5 that landed last year.

All are au­to­mat­ics with Audi’s “qu­at­tro” all­wheel drive and there’s no bad en­gine choice. You’ll find a near even split of diesel and petrol among used ex­am­ples, start­ing with the 2.0litre diesel, re­turn­ing a thrifty 6.1L/100km yet putting out an im­pres­sive 380Nm.

Given Audi’s renowned chas­sis en­gi­neer­ing, these Q5s are more car-like in the road-hold­ing stakes than most SUVs and can han­dle plenty of power. Audi obliged with a su­per­charged V6 and stonk­ing 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel with a 0100km/h time of just 5.1 sec­onds.

The cab­ins look a tad dated these days but Q5s re­tain their class with leather seats, good stan­dard equip­ment, a tac­tile feel to the switchgear and in­tel­li­gent lay­out. Grip the steer­ing wheel, open the cen­tre stor­age and ca­ress the sur­faces and you know you’re in­vest­ing in class.

Size-wise they’re not big enough to feel cum­ber­some, but with am­ple cabin space for two adults or three kids across the rear seats, and the boot’s a size­able 540L (with seats folded, 1560L).

Choose your Q5 ac­cord­ing to needs and bud­get. Four-cylin­der diesel (2.0 TDI) and four-cylin­der petrol (2.0 TFSI) are cheap­est; the former the choice of the econ­omy-minded, the lat­ter for swifter per­for­mance.

In­cluded were 18-inch al­loys, roof rails, power tail­gate and front seats, Blue­tooth, 6.5inch mon­i­tor, con­ve­nience key, front and rear park sen­sors, hill de­scent con­trol and hill-hold as­sist. For the 2014 model year, Q5s added xenon head­lights and tri-zone cli­mate con­trol.

Six-cylin­der mod­els (3.0 TDI and 3.0 TFSI) cost an ex­tra $12K when new but were worth it. Each had Mi­lano leather, pad­dle-shifters, im­proved nav­i­ga­tion, voice con­trol, seven-inch screen, DVD player, re­verse cam­era and LED run­ning lights. The petrol en­gine cracked rest to 100km/h in 5.9 sec­onds, the diesel 6.5 secs.

Not enough? In May 2013 Audi launched the world’s fastest pro­duc­tion diesel SUV, the SQ5 TDI, with 230kW and 650Nm – trumped again in 2016 with a 250kW/700Nm SQ5 Plus with qu­at­tro Sport dif­fer­en­tial bor­rowed from Audi’s RS per­for­mance grades.

SQ5s are rock­et­ships with very non-diesel race-car ex­haust notes, and were so pop­u­lar Audi Aus­tralia reck­oned the hot ver­sions ac­counted for about 30 per cent of all Q5 sales. Fit­ment on these in­cludes 20-inch wheels, lower sus­pen­sion, Audi drive select dy­namic han­dling and Nappa leather.

Reg­u­lar Q5s never had the soft­est of rides but were best on 18-inch al­loys. SQ5 mod­els are crashy on pot-holed city streets as their sus­pen­sion was op­ti­mised for twisty back roads.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Favour Q5s with im­pec­ca­ble Audi ser­vice his­to­ries. Many used mod­els will be out of the three-year war­ranty and re­pairs, parts and ser­vice are ex­pen­sive. Good­will fixes are far more likely if a Q5’s stayed in the Audi ser­vice fam­ily.

Most auto gear­box grem­lins had been ironed out by this stage but if you test a Q5 with nasty gear­box noise, jerk­i­ness or long hes­i­ta­tions then shop else­where.

Creaky front sus­pen­sion and vague steer­ing sug­gest worn front ball joints and some own­ers have re­ported rat­tles from the op­tional sun­roof if fit­ted.

Diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter block­ages can de­velop if used only on short jour­neys, so be wary of city-based Q5s. Should the fil­ter fail, it’s a mas­sive re­pair bill.

Nav­i­ga­tion map up­dates have proved trou­ble­some (and pricey) for some, so ask the seller how re­cently this has been done. Have a good poke around at cabin fit and fin­ish — most

have aged well but some own­ers have com­plained.

When new, Q5s came with count­less cost op­tions. Find a free-spend­ing first owner and you can score such good­ies as tem­per­a­ture con­trolled cup hold­ers, heated seats, radar cruise con­trol, B&O au­dio, dy­namic steer­ing and blind spot mon­i­tor.

Par­tic­u­larly favour those that had ex­pen­sive Ex­clu­sive Off-Road Styling, S Line Ex­te­rior or S Line Sports packs with sportier styling, big­ger wheels or Nappa leather.

To check on re­call work, put the VIN in at prod­uct­safety.gov.au and en­sure one you’re con­sid­er­ing has been re­turned to Audi for re­quired fixes.

IAIN SAYS

Run­ning costs mean you should en­ter used Q5 own­er­ship with care but these Audis are beau­ti­ful, drive su­perbly for an SUV and re­tain their pres­tige shine.

A 2.0-litre diesel is a smart choice un­less you’re a city driver only. The six-cylin­ders boost the per­for­mance and spec­i­fi­ca­tion for the full lux­ury Q5 ex­pe­ri­ence. The ever-pop­u­lar bal­lis­tic SQ5s are rightly aspi­ra­tional — with prices to match.

OWNER SAYS

RAMA HEIDARI: I have a 2015 Q5 3.0 TDI which is used ev­ery day for my small busi­ness and for driv­ing twice a week be­tween Can­berra and Syd­ney. On the mo­tor­way it has ex­cel­lent fuel con­sump­tion, about 5.5L/100km, which I’ve never had from any car be­fore. It isn’t as fast ac­cel­er­at­ing as the Audi A4 I had be­fore but it’s a nice drive, all the tech­nol­ogy works well and I’ve had no prob­lems with it. I’m get­ting to an age when lower cars are not very suit­able so it’s good to be higher up. My hus­band says we should up­date it but I’m still in love with my Q5 and don’t want to change it. TRANS­MIS­SIONS THIRST AC­CORD 2013-17. HONDA

USED CAR

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