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As expected from Audi, the new Q5 is classy and clever, and you get plenty of prestige gear for your money. But with this Q, the X factor is that it’s just so easy to live with. Report: Ernest Litera
Visual changes on the new Audi Q5 line-up are subtle and in essence only sharpen the overall look. The real story surrounds four new engines offering more power and greater efficiency, with entry-level 4cyl models also adding $6500 worth of features at no extra cost. The 3.0L petrol and diesel models gain more than $7000 in value-added features.
The list price for our test car, the 2.0L petrol TFSI turbo, is particularly appealing at $62,900, and more so for the usually higher priced 2.0L TDI diesel at just $62,200, but there’s a catch. While registration fee and stamp duty add $4160, the federal luxury car tax is also listed separately, adding a further $1960.20, and Audi has a massive dealer delivery charge of $3636, bringing our test car to $71,787 drive away. The 2.0L diesel fares a little better, because its fuel economy negates the regular luxury car tax, so it ends up at $69,906 drive away.
Electric front seats with lumbar support, 18-inch alloy wheels, convenience key, selectable ride and handling adjustments, tyre pressure monitoring and hill hold assist are some of the features now standard in this entry-level Q5. It is difficult to avoid the $1850 cost for metallic paint, while prospective buyers may ponder over the $4950 Technik Package which includes sat-nav, three-zone climate control and a reversing camera. We did find the luggage rail and securing net a useful asset in a family wagon for just $450, but if you tick all those boxes, you’re looking at $79,000 by the time it’s parked in your driveway. While Q5 is clearly aimed at the prestige end of the family wagon market, in terms of build quality features and finish it is nevertheless a standout vehicle for practical design and therefore day-to-day family function. In addition to its easy-to-live-with mid-size SUV dimensions, it’s particularly convenient in terms of access, overall seating space and load versatility, rather than copious carrying capacity. From front to back the cabin is studded with user-friendly features.
In addition to Audi’s typically elegant dash, drivers have full power seat adjustment, neat steering wheel buttons, large mirrors and an overhead console. Rear seats are not physically large yet still offer adult-size space and comfort, although the centre rear is compromised by the large transmission tunnel. Rear air vents, lighting over the seat, storage pockets, recessed head restraints and child seat anchorages on the seat backs enhance all forms of family use.
Versatility describes the reasonable load space. The three-way split-fold seat, with travel adjustment, means a variety of options: four seats with a rear centre table or ski-hatch, three seats with a long box down one side, or a decent two-seater with a reasonable van-like rear compartment. There are also two cargo barrier mounting positions to match either two- or four-seater use. Lighting, hooks and power socket are provided in the load area, while the optional luggage restraint system, made up of flush mounted floor rails, adjustable locking posts and a webbing strap, will secure any object. The convenient power tailgate is standard, although a rear camera is more desirable. The spare wheel is an inflatable space saver, which prompts the question of where then to carry the large punctured road wheel.
This 2.0L turbo-petrol engine model is arguably the most surprising in the new line-up, employing the benefits of both direct and indirect fuel injection to ensure optimum performance and economy under different driving conditions. Recorded performance figures are excellent, particularly considering the hefty 1830kg kerb mass and Audi’s quattro AWD system.
Aiding the performance delivery is an 8spd auto transmission which, apart from a slight hesitation during full throttle kick-down, ensures strong and seamless power delivery in all situations. This engine does however require premium fuel, but we averaged 9.2L/100km, which is surprisingly good for an SUV of this size.
In addition to being even more spritely around town, this Q5 has an endearing touring quality, where enhanced engine torque and extra gearing deliver effortless flowing performance. A handy 2000kg capacity now also has a 200kg ball load limit to match Australian expectations of a vehicle’s towing capacity.
Despite its SUV architecture, Q5 is as easy to drive and handle as any modern wagon, although drivers will encounter some vision restrictions from the chunky body styling. Ride quality and steering feel are typically firm yet well-insulated, and the handling and braking are remarkably stable and surefooted, even over unmade roads, courtesy of Audi’s electronics and the intelligent quattro AWD.
Q5’s outstanding levels of cabin insulation from road shock, driveline sounds and general road noise can be better appreciated when you look more closely at things such as the intricate under-bonnet bracing for body strength and a double firewall to isolate the mechanicals. Q5’s underlying engineering and mechanical sophistication, combined with classy fittings and tactile feel, are enduring qualities that go a long way to justifying its pricing.
The verdict? Audi’s refreshed Q5 line-up, with a range of more efficient engines and a raft of value-added standard features, hidden behind almost indistinguishable styling tweaks, make this an SUV of notable substance and quality, yet it remains a most practical and easy family vehicle to live with.