Since 2009 there have been 25,500 sales of Audi’s popular Q range, however the Q range is most certainly bankrolled by the mammoth Q7 that accounts for 42 percent of sales. However, the previous Q5 had grown tired, so like the A5 it needed a kick in the pants. So, after much development and the addition of some clever tweaks to the renowned Audi Quattro system a new Q5 was born. Chris Bowen recently took it on a seemingly cross continent expedition, well at least from Melbourne to Adelaide!
Put simply there is a four-cylinder turbo-diesel (7-speed), four-cylinder petrol (7-speed) and one headbanging V6-turbo engine (8-speed) on offer. At the bottom of the pile sits the 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic “Design” grade. Following that is “Sport” grade that can be optioned with either a diesel or petrol four-cylinder. Then there’s the hard hitting SQ5 with a turbo V6 lifted straight from the S4 and S5.
There’s also a limited-edition S Line Black edition available in both diesel and petrol, they will be rare as hen’s teeth with only 70 being sent to our shores.
As usual Audi offers familiar packages that add various desirable things. “Comfort” and “Technik” bring together various options under the one banner. For example, Comfort introduces electric steering wheel adjustment and a sliding rear seat. Technik as the name suggest ups the technology offering goodies such as a Bang & Olufsen sound system with more speakers than Madison Square Garden or Audi’s amazing LED matrix headlights.
Of course, there are many other options and usually the price and availability is dependent on the grade. But more on that in a sec.
The whole car basically. While it’s not a massive departure from the old model from afar, it is up close and most importantly underneath. The looks are now up to speed with Audi’s latest sharp, horizontal and as they say 3D look. The signature “Tornado” line crease now found on the A5 is stamped down the side of the car as is the single framed grille and if you look closely the rear LED tail lights feature a “Q” shaped flick to them.
The car is the same width, features the same clearance (depending on variant) yet has a larger interior. Speaking of which the Q5 now inherits Audi’s new take on delivering a class leading cabin. It’s another horizontal affair, with long air vents and either a 7.0-inch or 8.3-inch free standing multimedia screen.
Audi has never offered a touch screen, and to be honest that’s mostly ok. It features a nice touch pad control or rotary dial and surrounding buttons that you’ll soon operate without looking. Of course, on higher spec models the 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster more than makes up for a lack of a touchscreen. The only time it feels annoying not having it is when using Apple CarPlay, not being able to press those familiar icons is strange.
The engines produce the following power and economy figures.
- 0 TDI quattro S tronic 140kW/400nm, 5.3L/100km
- 0 TFSI 185kwW/370Nm, 7.3L/100km
- 0 TFSI quattro tiptronic 260Kw/500Nm, 8.7L/100km
None of which are sluggish with even the diesel able to sprint to 100km/h in 7.9 seconds, the SQ5 in a mere 5.4 seconds but that seems conservative. Fuel economy on any press launch should be ignored, but it’s safe to say I averaged at least 3-litres above all the claimed figures.
I sat next to Dieter Weideman for more than an hour behind the wheel. He’s the head of the Quattro AWD department, a prestigious position to occupy given the systems 30-odd year heritage. He went to great lengths to explain the miraculous system to me. All while holding an iPad that was providing real time information about how I was driving and how the car was preventing me from flying off the road.
On the four-cylinder Q5 models the system in short can disengage AWD completely when not needed, meaning the rear wheels are completely disengaged from the engine. It’s mainly about fuel savings, a moving prop shaft to the rear end when not needed does waste fuel. But it’s the predictive ability and seamless way the AWD system kicks in that impresses the most.
Based on information from a myriad of sensors Quattro Ultra can think ahead half a second and engage AWD within 0.200 of a second. It reads what the inside front wheel is doing as that’s usually the first to lose traction and combine that with steering input, body control and many other factors jump in to save the day. It’s hard to get your head around but trust me after some rather violent mannoverrs and encounters with wildlife it just works. But you will never feel, hear or sense which end of the car the power is sent to.
This was a long drive and I was alone for almost the entire time, so I feel like I’m well-acquainted with the range. The trip left Melbourne Airport on day one and made its way to Dunkeld via Daylesford and The Grampians. Day two was Dunkeld to Adelaide via The Coorong.
On a trip like that the first thing you notice are comfort levels, after almost 1000km in two stints I never felt fatigued or even a real need to get out and stretch. What I also discovered was some of the potentially “game over” obstacles at dusk occur, namely kangaroos and emus. On one occasion, just out of Halls Gap a sizable roo activated the entire suite of Audi “Pre-Sense” safety tech. At over 100km I had little choice but to instivicley swerve and avoid an enormous impact. The QS5 model I happened to be in did so with such finesse and stopping power that it almost had nothing to do with my driving ability. The seat belts tightened, the hazard lights came on and I almost stopped dead. The roo may have got lucky, but so did Audi.
Overall the Q5 models handle our roads supremely well, with great composure and agility. So quiet and refined is the experience its frankly a damn shame we can’t travel faster than 110km/h in most parts of this country. The car can perform safely at much higher levels ever likely to be undertaken here.
The SQ5 is a real hoot, for a five-seat SUV. It sits tightly on the road with its active dampers and when optioned with a rear sports differential it’s also a boy-racer.
- 0 TDI quattro S tronic (Design grade) $65,900
- 0 TFSI 185kwW/370Nm (Sport grade with TDI) $70,700 or TFSI $73,211
- 0 TFSI quattro tiptronic $99,611
- S Line Black limited edition TDI $82,900 or TFSI $86,611.
Again, keep in mind the optional packages that just about every Audi buyer will go for. The SQ5 I drove ended up being $113,637 after the $5600 Technik package, $1,846 red metallic paint, $2,950 sport differential, $1,500 carbon inlays and $2,150 adaptive air suspension were added!
EFTM Rubber Stamp of Approval.
This is a pretty expensive way to cart around five people if you really want an SUV. But the craftmanship, expertise and sheer on road ability and safety make this an enticing proposition. I award the Audi Q5 range the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of Approval.