Very little to fault in the new supercharged flagship Audi Q5… except for the price
Audi Q5 3.0T Quattro Sportline review by John BealeThe streets of Johannesburg are no stranger to the Audi’s Q5 SUV. Its to the Q7 what BMW’s X3 is to the X5. Audi pushes roughly just under 200 units a month in SA, nearly the same as the popular, but pricey BMW X3. Unfortunately Mercedes Benz has never brought its equivalent, the good-looking GLK to the country.
The Audi Q5 3-litre supercharged Quattro Sportline on test is the updated model, with not only a new engine, but refreshed lighting clusters sporting revised LED Daytime Running Lights, interior material changes and changes to the MultiMedia Interface system.
The EngineFor an SUV, the Audi Q5 gets off the mark extremely quickly, especially when in Dynamic Drive Select. The supercharged unit pushes out 200kW and 400NM which means 0-100km/h in just under 6 seconds. That’s hot hatch territory! There’s heaps of torque off the line, but at speed the gearbox struggles to keep it in the ideal torque range.
When you need to overtake there is loads of double downshifting from the superbly quick 8-speed tiptronic box. In normal daily traffic in town it is a superb gearbox, and the optional Audi Drive Select (R3 360 + R12 480 for Damping Control) is a must to give the vehicle a polarized character when you want it. This allows dynamic, economy, comfort and other modes which change damper, engine mapping, gearbox and steering-feel settings. I was surprised to see that fuel consumption got down to 11l/100km once a fair bit of highway driving had been done.
Handling and RideHandling is exceptional, as flat as last year’s Idols ratings around the corners, especially in dynamic mode, which makes the ride stiff, the steering taught and the gearbox and engine-response a lot more immediate. The 19-inch rims did have something to do with the Audi Q5 crashing over bumps in the road. Too much speed into a corner and Audi’s ever-capable Quattro drivetrain comes in handy.
The system does take a little while to send the power to the right wheels, which can leave some time for the nose to wash wide. Should you be one of the 2 buyers that are going to take your Audi Q5 off-road, the Quattro system apportions power well to the necessary wheel with traction. Steering-feel is very light at low speeds, but weights up nicely at speed. It’s not as meaty as I’d like, but this is still an SUV in the end.
InteriorAudi interiors are what every other car interior wants to be when they grow up. Materials are of such a high quality, I found myself wishing everything I touched was made by Audi. Unfortunately, the standard seats don’t offer enough lateral support, and the steering wheel and footrest always seemed in the way. I’m also not a fan of Audi’s standard grey leather trim, I find it a bit clinical and Vorsprungesque. There’s more than enough space in the rear for passengers, and the boot is equally accommodating. Seats fold flat easily using pull levers in the boot and even lock in place flat down on the seat cushion, which is a nice touch.
The fact that there is no USB port is ridiculous. Audi can tout SD cards till the cows come home (there are two slots!), but I can’t remember the last time someone brought an SD card to a party. But, the vehicle does have Bluetooth as standard and streams music through this. MMI is a little more complex than BMW’s iDrive but it is nice to look at on the standard colour screen. I did find even with the changes, it does require a little too much looking down to function straight off the cuff. For some reason it wouldn't list songs in a playlist when connected to the iPhone, so I had to select songs with my phone, which was impractical. As another high-tech option, insert a SIM card into the dash (e.g. data contract) and the Audi Q5 has its own Wi-Fi hotspot to connect to. Stellar.
The Audi Q5 - ConclusionThere is genuinely very little to fault, except for the usual Audi fare of: base-vehicle-and-spec-up-the-options later. As tested, this vehicle priced in at R697 680. That’s a considerable amount of money for what is an averaged sized SUV. Look around: there’s also the Evoque, which is smaller, or the Grand Cherokee which is much larger and capable off-road. Keep the options down on a smaller engine in the Q5 range and you have an excellent SUV.
Audi Q5 - PriceAudi Q5 3.0T Quattro Sportline - R697 680
- View the vehicle: New Audi Q5 / Used Audi Q5
- At this price I’d also have a look at: