2009 Audi Q5 Review

By: Steve Nally

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Audi continues to impress with its latest Q5 mid-size SUV...

2009 Audi Q5 Review
Driven: 2009 Audi Q5

 

2009 Audi Q5 

It would appear that Audi can do little wrong despite the economic turmoil threatening to sink the automotive industry any minute. Hardly a week goes by without Audi trumpeting a new achievement and Australia, we are told, is the darling of Audi AG.

Australia’s is the fastest growing market in the Audi universe and Audi Oz has just recorded its fourth year of record growth with 2008 sales of 9410 units, a doubling of sales since the company’s 2004 restructure. Audi will also tell you it is the fastest growing premium brand Down Under.

And that’s because they keep releasing cars like the Q5, a completely new mid-size SUV crammed with technology from the A4. We drove a 2.0-litre TFSI and 3.0-litre TDI over a 600km route of highway, twisting mountain blacktop and slippery gravel and, in short, they impressed.

The Q5 is a pretty car (note the new grille with ‘floating’ badge and number plate) with short overhangs, a slippery shape (drag co-efficient of 0.33) that disguises its size, and a class-leading 2.8 metre wheelbase that creates a spacious, airy interior.

Inside are clever touches like split-fold rear seat backs that can be angled or laid completely flat (the rear seat can also move forward or back by 100mm) and a folding front passenger seat (optional) for a maximum cargo capacity of 1,560 litres. There is also a second under-floor storage compartment. The cabins have trademark Audi build quality with sumptuous materials and finishes and the driving position is excellent.

Both engines we drove provided smooth torquey power, the 155kW, turbo 2.0-litre TFSI engine surprising with how well it lugged the Q5’s 1740kg due, in part, to its wide 350Nm peak torque range of 1500 to 4200 revs.

The grunty 3.0-litre turbo-diesel donk is the most powerful in the Q5 range and produces 176Kw and a V8-like 500Nm from 1500 to 3000 rpms and it also makes light work of the 1865kg it has to propel. A 2.0-litre TDI (diesel) Q5 with fuel economy of 6.8L/100km (LCT exempt) and a 3.2-litre FSI engine will complete the range.

These are efficient high-tech engines and Audi gets the most out of them using its new twin-clutch, seven-speed S tronic transmission, which is super smooth and quick-shifting, although when manual changing (via paddles or shifter) you might find yourself in a higher gear than expected mid-corner due to the extra ratio.

What really impressed was the Q5’s ride and handling. Both cars came with Audi’s optional drive select system (Comfort, Auto and Dynamic) that controls throttle response, steering assistance and gear shift points and can be optioned to control damper settings. Combined with AWD that can send up to 65 per cent of drive to the front wheels and 85 per cent to rears, depending on conditions, the Q5 corners with almost no body roll.

It is a very stable platform with crisp turn-in and enough grip in constant left-right bends to induce motion sickness in those with tender tummies. In fact, the front seats could do with more lateral support.

Off road, the Q5 is relatively unfazed by gravel and low-grip surfaces and also comes with Hill Descent, which automatically keeps speed to between nine and 30km/h (the driver can increase or decrease speed) in forward and 9km/h in reverse. The Q5 has 20cm of ground clearance, an approach and departure angle of 25 degrees and can cross a 50cm deep stream. Not just a pretty face.

It is equipped with a raft of passive and active safety measures including the latest ESP system that senses a load of up to 100kg on the roof rack – which raises the centre of gravity – and adjusts its calibrations accordingly. Further high-tech options include parking assist, lane assist, side assist, adaptive cruise and braking guard that warns if you are about to ‘Liberace’ the car in front.

In July Audi will celebrate its 100th anniversary and with the Q5 it has something else to cheer about. With prices starting at $59,900, the Q5 will give the BMW X3 and Volvo’s new XC60 a run for their money.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

2009 Audi Q5

 

Body: Five-door sports utility vehicle

Weight: 1740 / 1865kg

Drivetrain: Front engine, quattro AWD

Engine: 1985cc turbo four/ 2967cc turbo-diesel V6

Power: 155kW @ 4300-6000rpm/ 176kW @ 4000-4400rpm

Torque: 350Nm @ 1500-4200rpm / 500Nm @ 1500-3000rpm

Transmission: 7-speed, twin-clutch S tronic

Performance: 0 - 100km/h – 7.2sec/ 6.5sec

Fuel Economy: 8.5L/100km/ 7.5L/100km

Price: From $59,900/ $71,900

 

 

 

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