12 March 2014
Audiís rise over the last decade or so has been nothing short of phenomenal. The German carmaker has taken on its rivals in the premium segment of the car market Ė most notably Mercedes-Benz and BMW Ė and given them a run for their money. A large factor in Audiís success has been its identification of niches in the car market and then building cars to fill them. The Q5 Ėa premium, mid-sized SUV Ė is a perfect example of this, aiming to win over buyers thinking of a BMW X3, Volvo XC60 or Land Rover Freelander.
The Q5 comes with the choice of two petrol engines and two diesel units. The petrol line-up comprises a 2.0-litre TFSI that produces 209bhp and 258lb-ft of torque and a 3.2-litre FSI that pumps out 267bhp and 244lb-ft of torque. More practical are the diesel engines: the 2.0-litre version generates 167bhp and 258lb-ft of torque, while the 3.0-litre TDI fitted to our test car produces 237bhp and 368lb-ft of torque. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine is powerful and quiet, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission Ė which is, in essence, the same as the DSG set-up used across the Volkswagen group. The combination works well: the engine is smooth and strong, providing plenty of power, with lots of mid-range urge for overtaking and cruising along motorways and A roads; the auto Ďbox, meanwhile, is slick and efficient, changing gears quickly and smoothly.
The Q5 is a high-riding SUV, so the laws of physics are always going to come into play when assessing the carís driving dynamics. However, Audi has performed something of a minor miracle here, making the Q5 drive much like an A4 saloon, with body roll kept in check to such an extent that itís almost non-existent.
Audi has established a good reputation for itself as a manufacturer of solid, well-built cars, made from quality materials. The annual JD Power customer satisfaction survey last year placed the German carmaker seventh in a league table of 28 carmakers. The Q5 should maintain the brandís reputation, as itís based on the same platform as the A4 and uses many components that are tried and tested both on that model and across others in the Volkswagen Group. The other mechanicals should also prove reliable, even though this is the first time that Audi has fitted the S tronic gearbox with an engine that is mounted longitudinally. Our test car had a good fit and finish throughout: the paintwork was of a high quality, shutlines were consistent across the exterior of the car and the cabin had soft-touch plastics on the interior surfaces and high-quality leather on the seats.
The Q5 hasnít yet been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but results for the most recent Audi models suggest that the companyís expectation of a five-star rating is probably not unrealistic. The basis for this faith is that the Q5 is chock-full of all the latest safety kit. First off, thereís Audiís Quattro 4x4 system, which should keep drivers out of significant trouble in most instances. In addition, there are all the usual active safety measures, such as ESP, and ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution. Thereís also extra kit such as adaptive cruise control with a braking guard that prompts the driver if it thinks more braking is required; a lane departure warning system; blind spot warning system; and parking assist with rear-view camera. If all that doesnít keep you out of trouble, there are also six airbags, Isofix child seat mounting points, seatbelt pre-tensioners and whiplash-protecting seatbacks and head restraints.
The cabin of the Q5 is an extremely comfortable place to be, with high levels of refinement. Itís very quiet inside, with Audi doing an excellent job of suppressing wind, road and engine noise. The seats throughout the cabin are supportive and sumptuous, especially if you tick the box on the options list for the fine nappa leather ones fitted to our test car (£785). Inside thereís plenty of legroom and headroom, even in the back. Thereís also an optional full-length sunroof, the front section of which opens: it is very pricey (£1,075), but it does give the whole cabin a light and airy feel. Thereís also plenty of bootspace, with a standard 540 litres with the rear seats in place and up to 1,560 litres with them folded. Thereís also the option of a front passenger seat that folds flat for long loads such as surfboards.
Thereís no way to get around the fact that, however refined and modern it is, the Q5 is an SUV. This means that it is never going to be cheap to run. Carbon dioxide emissions across the Q5 range start from 179g/km for the 2.0-litre TDI, increasing to 218g/km for the 3.2-litre FSI model. The 3.0-litre TDI engine in our test car falls in the middle, emitting 199g/km, putting it in road tax Band F, the second-highest, which will set owners back £210 per year. Thereís slightly better news when it comes to fuel economy, though: the bigger diesel returns a creditable 37.6mpg on the combined cycle. Itís not great, but for an SUV, itís not that bad either. The desirability of the Q5 means that wonít be cheap to insure, either: insurance groups start at 14, rising to 17 for the 3.0 TDI.
Submitted: 28/05/2009 10:32:16
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