Flushed in the face of approval and appreciation from passersby, the Audi Q5 S line awaited me in the parking lot looking as hot as it was meant to be in Volcano red. A red lost in childhood crayon boxes where it stood closer to brown and not far from yellow. In the Audi line up, between the whopping Q7 and the mildly apologetic Q3, the Audi Q5 stands as the most right-sized SUV in terms of presence and power.
UPSIDE: Impressive design, Easy power delivery, Sharp handling, Balanced proportions, Well-appointed cabin
FLIPSIDE: Rear legroom tight for tall people, Steering handholding felt, Aggressiveness doesn’t match ‘performance SUV’ description
THE PRICE: 2.0 TFSI Quattro AED 179,00; 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-line AED 197,000; 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-line 3.0 TFSI Quattro AED 234,000
The colour was uncommon but the Audi Q5 S-line came with a drive train I was familiar with and have appreciated for its smoothness earlier. Driven by an 8-speed transmission, the 3.0 L supercharged V6 engine is good for 272 hp and 400 Newton meters of torque. The usual culprits that meddle with power, like turbo lag, wheel slip, torque slip, and all that are absolutely negligible in the Q5.
The steering of the Audi Q5 can be qualified as one of the most well-measured among SUVs. It cuts a perfect curve and that is its bane too! It takes away from the natural-ness of the steering with the electronic interference showing at times, giving it a graduated feeling.
The Q5 happily reacts to your turn commands and willingly pushes a corner, but for a performance SUV, it displays some body lean while cornering. Highway handles is impressive but I have a feeling that 18 inch tires would have ridden better instead of the 20” jumbos, for they occasionally got in the way of quick tackles at roundabouts or sharp exits.
Well, you could extract more fun out of it only if you broke the code of electronic intevention, which is quite evolved in the Q5. Which also means, the Q5 is just as reassuring as it is fun. The sound too is more of a subdued statement of sport rather than an aggressive snarl at any time, which, to be fair, adds to the composed cabin comfort.
The Audi Q5 comes with the standard Audi Drive select which gives you a choice of comfort, dynamic, individual and automatic modes with varying settings of steering and the suspension; the dynamic mode being at the taut and sporty end of the spectrum. The Quattro all wheel drive plays along if you slip off the tarmac for a little adventure, and there is a hill control button as well to climb without sliding back. That said, this is one for the city but has a useful trick or two up the Quattro sleeves.
The performance SUV – that’s what Audi likes to call it – felt much faster on the road, especially mid-drive, than on the test track where the 0 to 100 came up in 7.1 seconds (which isn’t bad at all, coming to think of it). The Audi Q5 returned moderate fuel efficiency figures of 6.4 kms per litre during the test run.
The start-stop technology in the Q5 is one of the most sensitive I’ve seen. Quick to sleep and wake up at signals, if you leave the Q5 idle for long enough, the car switches off entirely and if you take the remote key and walk out, you don’t have to worry about leaving the electricals on – rather convenient!
Just as striking as the red is the black that complements the Q5 with its distinctive sporty look. Black highlighting can be found underneath the side mirrors, the window line and even the fenders. It prominently marks the large air dams in front beneath the inverted six-sided trapezoidal grille. The eagle wing shaped rear lamps, again with black framing, along with the diffusers flanked by the exhausts make for an aggressive elegance that is rare among compact or mid-size Crossovers.
Cabin and Controls
The interiors, as classy as they get in an Audi, feature a beige and black combo in leather all through the upholstery. Above the driver oriented console is a six-inch leaning screen, which is pretty easy to navigate between the Audi’s MMI knob and the console buttons.
The top of the range comes with Bluetooth navigation as well rear view camera with parking sensors but what’s missing is the blind spot monitor as in most Audis. Actually, this one would have particularly benefited from it because of the rising window line and the high design of the Q5. Despite a surprisingly high driving position for its size, the positioning of the seat and the side view mirrors, as well as the high hoodline, make it slightly hard to judge what’s around the A pillar. That said, the immediate view of approaching vehicles and the rear visibility remains good in the Q5.
The Audi Q5, despite its imposing hood and largish presence, doesn’t offer cavernous space inside. Headroom could raise no complaint but leg space is just enough to keep long journeys comfortable in those delectable Nappa leather seats. My test Q5 came with sunscreens and good lumbar support apart from extendable knee support for the front passengers. Another silver lining is the panoramic sunroof with retractable glass running almost half its length, which makes for a feeling of spaciousness in the cabin.
Keeping with the current tradition, the centre seat is largely unusable for adults thanks to the console tunnel. My test car came with a projected clip board for iPads or DVDs which would have been much better-placed, set into the front headrest itself. The boot space is adequate for your everyday needs and the rear seats can fold flat for heavier duties. You will find the congenial height of the Q5 as well as the electronic tailgate easing your loading woes.
The Essential Audi Q5
Audi calls the Q5 a performance SUV rather than a mid-size family SUV, and the vehicle more or less lives up to its description with a handling that almost matches the exceptional sedans of the family. The Audi Q5 is a contradiction of sorts in terms of size. It looks compact but affords you a riding position that is higher than you would think. In contrast, it looks large but doesn’t turn out as big as your expectation. Yet, with dimensions and design that complement each other well, the Q5 should be the right-sized SUV for most people, and the sportiest looking in the Audi Q-series.
Drive Courtesy: Audi Volkswagen Middle East
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy