Goes quietly; carries big kit
OTHER than brackish lagoons and miles of arrow-straight roads, there’s not a lot to see in South Australia’s Coorong region. If you’re in the latest Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI, there’s not a lot to hear, either. At an indicated 110km/ h it’s eerily quiet. You hear your passenger’s jacket zip clinking as the car sits into the odd dip, a welcome spritz of treble over the blanketed bass tones of tyre and suspension.
The car’s computer tells us we’ve been in front-wheel drive mode for 99.8 of the last 100km, the Q5’s ‘quattro ultra’ drive system reading the low-mu gravel exit of a car park and engaging the spring-loaded rear dog clutches silently and imperceptibly.
The Q5 isn’t in the business of loudly overpromising and underdelivering. It’s Audi’s quiet achiever, having racked up over 24,500 local sales in the last seven years, forming an integral part of a Q family that now accounts for 42 percent of the company’s Australasian sales.
This all-new car has been a long time coming, riding on the nextgen MLB Evo chassis that now distances it from its Porsche Macan cousin. Aussie buyers get the choice of a 140kw/400nm 2.0 TDI diesel, offered in either Design or Sport trims, or a 185kw/370nm petrol version sold exclusively in Sport trim.
Both drive through seven-speed dual-clutch transmissions, but it won’t take too long behind the wheel to convince anyone that the petrol engine is the smarter choice. The diesel does the job, but lacks zest, getting to 100km/ h in a leisurely 7.9 seconds.
The petrol engine is usefully quicker, stopping the clock in 6.3 seconds, and with 50kg less in the nose, it tips into a corner more crisply, holds a line more faithfully and takes less effort to bring to a halt. With respective fuel economies of 5.5 and 7.3L/100km, the petrol car will cost an additional $ 290 per year to fuel. That’s money well spent.
The Q5’s fundamentals don’t brook too many surprises. It’s about the same width as before, but 34mm longer, 4mm wider, and with 12mm grafted into the wheelbase. Luggage space is up by 10 litres to 550L, or you can opt for the sliding rear bench to extend that to 610L in exchange for the odd passenger DVT.
The interior is a magnificent place to sit, with a broad spar across the dashboard that visually lowers and widens the fascia and there’s a formidable suite of electronics, from Android Auto and Apple Carplay mirroring to Google Earth, a Wifi hotspot, and, if you opt for Sport trim, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit instrument panel
and a head-up display.
The Q5 2.0 TFSI gets solid scores for go, stop and steer, but the one blot on its copybook is ride quality. It’s not trolley jack stiff, but it’s a good deal more interactive than you’d probably appreciate.
The fix lies in the options box marked ‘1BK’, which is adaptive air suspension. It’ll set you back $ 3990 but will transform ride quality and, as an added bonus, increase the car’s ground clearance by 45mm if you should venture off road. You can even drop the rear end by 15mm to load the car.
The Audi Q5 rewards a certain specificity. It’s possible to go wrong and land yourself something that will always seem like a lot of money spent. Invest a little more initially in the 2.0 TFSI Sport with air suspension and the value proposition’s really not that hard to grasp. Straight to the top of the class? We wouldn’t bet against it.