Lesser spot­ted city tourer

BRIAN BAS­SETT takes on the city’s rut­ted by­ways in the Audi Q5 TDI S Qu­at­tro

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

SAND­WICHED be­tween the peppy Q3 cross­over and the grand Q7, the Audi Q5 is some­times lost sight of.

It is based on the A4 plat­form, although some­what wider and higher and sur­pris­ingly shorter, the Q5 is the de­sign brain­child of Chris­tian Winkel­man, who com­pleted the ba­sic de­sign work in 2005.

The car’s first model year was 2009 and it con­tin­ues in pro­duc­tion in sev­eral coun­tries across the world, with a use­ful range of en­gines and the usual Audi rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity and dura­bil­ity.

I had not driven the Q5 pre­vi­ously and I am grate­ful to Darryl Top­per, dealer prin­ci­pal of the Audi Cen­tre in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, for al­low­ing me to spend a few en­joy­able days with the ve­hi­cle.

Styling

The Q5 is un­pre­ten­tious and busi­nesslike; and projects a ro­bust and dis­tinc­tive im­age which is sub­tle and yet un­mis­tak­ably Audi, with its sin­gle-frame front grill, front fog lights with chrome rings and trape­zoidal bumper shape. At the rear the large tail-light clus­ters and flat-bot­tomed tailpipes give the car a de­cid­edly mas­cu­line feel.

The lines of the Q5 are ex­act and its coupé-type roofline, to­gether with its 20-inch cast alu­minum five-arm wheels pro­ject a pow­er­ful im­age, which is easily vis­i­ble in any car park.

In­te­rior

The in­te­rior of the Q5 re­flects the su­perb build qual­ity for which Audi is known.

The car I drove was fin­ished in soft leather and high qual­ity plas­tics. The con­trols and their plac­ing are typ­i­cally Audi and the dash area is the usual, sen­si­ble Audi de­sign, with ev­ery­thing easily to hand and us­able with­out the driver hav­ing to take his at­ten­tion from the road.

The car has ev­ery­thing you could want in a ve­hi­cle, from Blue­tooth, to a Bang and Olufsen CD/Aux/Ra­dio sys­tem and plugs for your IT toys.

The leather-cov­ered, mul­ti­func­tion, three-spoke steer­ing wheel which, like the driver’s seat is in­fin­itely ad­justable, is a plea­sure to han­dle, as is the gear lever for the tip­tronic gear­box. The steer­ing has flappy pad­dles for those who fancy a sporty shift, but I found that I sel­dom used them.

A cen­trally placed screen punc­tu­ates the dash­board and pro­vides a wide range of driv­ing in­for­ma­tion.

The seats are ad­justable both front and back, although two adults at the rear would be more com­fort­able than three.

The in­te­rior er­gonomics are im­pres­sive and the boot, with rear seats in place, pro­vides am­ple room for a week­end away for four peo­ple. The rear seats easily fold flat and boot space is dou­bled. I also en­joyed the elec­tronic open­ing and clos­ing mech­a­nism for the wide rear door, which al­lows easy load­ing.

Safety and se­cu­rity

The Q5 has a 5-star NCAP rat­ing and so is con­sid­ered to be about as safe as a car can get. Cen­tral lock­ing and an on-board alarm are stan­dard, as are six airbags with ABS, EBD, child seat anchors to ISO stan­dards.

A wide range of other ac­tive and pas­sive safety sys­tems that can be added to from the ex­ten­sive op­tions list are avail­able.

The ve­hi­cle I drove also had all-round park as­sist, which was enor­mously use­ful in crowded Satur­day morn­ing park­ing ar­eas and hill de­cent as­sist which I

found use­ful off road.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

In town the Q5 is the ideal fam­ily car, with space for ev­ery­one, power to spare and easy park­ing. The high ride is safe and en­joy­able and the steer­ing di­rect and re­spon­sive.

On the N3 the sound proof­ing is im­pres­sive and con­ver­sa­tion re­mains easily pos­si­ble even at high speeds, as you whizz past long lines of trucks grind­ing their way to Gaut­eng.

I took the car to supper with friends who live on a small­hold­ing in the Dar­gle area, which in­volved driv­ing at night on both a D-Road and a poorly main­tained farm road. The Q5 took both in its stride and the xenon head­lights made a huge dif­fer­ence on the way home later that night.

The Q5 is not known as a rock crawler but, hav­ing long ago de­lighted in walk­ing the net­work of scenic forestry tracks around the city, I de­cided to fol­low my youth­ful trails to the top of a hill above Claren­don.

The track is a par­tic­u­larly bad one, slip­pery, sandy and badly rut­ted. I as­cended slowly with the su­perb Qu­at­tro sys­tem do­ing an ex­cel­lent job of pulling the ve­hi­cle up­wards.

Ten min­utes later I reached the top and the Old How­ick Road, which left me im­pressed with both the power and the views over the city.

The Q5’s power de­rives from a two-litre, tur­bocharged, four­cylin­der turbo diesel en­gine that pro­duces 130 kW and 330 Nm, trans­ferred to the road by a seven-speed au­to­matic gear­box. 0-100 km/h comes up in nine sec­onds and fuel con­sump­tion on tar is around 7,5 litres per 100 km.

Guar­an­tees, costs and the com­pe­ti­tion

The Q5 comes with a one-year man­u­fac­turer’s guar­an­tee and a five year, 100 000 km main­te­nance plan.

There is also a 12-year anti-cor­ro­sion war­ranty, which you prob­a­bly won’t need as the car is gal­vanised.

Costs start at around R560 000 for the Q5 2.0l S Qu­at­tro, while the S5 TDI Qu­at­tro will set you back about R870 000.

If you are shop­ping around have a look at BMW X3, Land Rover Dis­cov­ery Sport, In­fin­ity QX 50 and Volvo XC 60.

PHOTO: QUICK­PIC

The Audi Q5 rides on 20-inch wheels.

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