Goes qui­etly; car­ries big kit

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - ANDY EN­RIGHT

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.

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