Lesser spotted city tourer
BRIAN BASSETT takes on the city’s rutted byways in the Audi Q5 TDI S Quattro
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.
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.
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.
The Audi Q5 rides on 20-inch wheels.