Car reviews - Audi - Q5 - TFSI 2.0
Superb 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, smooth eight-speed Tiptronic transmission, cracking straight line performance, handy storage areas, easy-to-use sat-nav and infotainment system
Room for improvement
Same-again styling, dull interior, hard suspension, expensive options, uneventful/boring drive
1 Mar 2013
Price and equipment
FOR the 2013 iteration of its top-selling Q5 mid-size SUV, Audi decided to focus on value for money, adding thousands of dollars worth of options as standard for no extra cost.
Audi, along with some other notable European car-makers, has been guilty of charging buyers an extraordinary amount for options, pushing actual transaction prices much higher than list.
We tested the Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro that opens the range at $62,900 but now includes $6500 worth of extras for the same price as the previous model.
By adding goodies like keyless entry, push-button start, bigger 18-inch alloy wheels and the Drive Select driving mode system at no charge, Audi has made the Q5 more appealing and slightly more accessible.
Despite the improved value equation, the Q5 2.0 TFSI is still more expensive than its main rivals, which all come in at under $60,000.
BMW’s X3 xDrive 20i AWD is available from $59,000 plus on-road costs, the entry-level AWD Volvo XC60 retails for $59,990, and the sleek Range Rover Evoque 2.0L Si Pure AWD costs $59,895.
No doubt there will be those out there who are more than happy to pay the extra for the four-ringed badge and depending on what takes your fancy, there are still a number of option packs to inflate the cost of a Q5 well beyond the sticker price.
AUDI has long been renowned for its clean, simple and elegant interior design and on the whole, the Q5 follows this theme.
Although the cabin is functional, well laid out and reasonably easy to navigate, it just feels slightly dull.
A passenger travelling with your correspondent suggested that the interior did not have a premium feel in the way that an equivalent BMW or Mercedes-Benz has.
However, the cabin of the 2.0 TFSI is not an awful place to be – on the contrary, the seats were firm yet comfortable and everything did what it was supposed to.
But our passenger was right. Unlike other vehicles in the Audi line-up, it has a less than premium feel, at least on this entry spec variant.
Now for the positives, starting at the rear.
The Audi has decent luggage capacity of 540 litres with the rear seats up, just 10 litres shy of the BMW X3, and 1560 litres with the rear seats folded down.
An automatic tailgate was a useful feature and the height and width of the loading area of the tailgate was excellent.
The boot had a number of handy storage spaces and cargo nets to ensure luggage and shopping stay in the same place if the driver were to take a corner at speed.
Rear seat leg room is more than adequate and there is plenty of room for larger bodies to fit across the back bench.
Back at the front of the cabin, Audi has added some neat drawers under the two front seats for extra storage.
An appropriate driving position was easy to find with the electric seats manoeuvring in various directions to ensure a comfortable ride.
It took a while to locate the tilt and height adjuster for the steering wheel, but after reaching as far back as we could towards the lower part of the steering column, we found it.
Visibility was excellent in the Q5 which is a nice change from the growing number of modern cars with high shoulder lines and shrinking rear windows.
The sat-nav and infotainment controls in the centre console were very easy to use once familiarised with the functions.
Connecting the Bluetooth was a quick and painless process but the audio streaming occasionally dropped out for a few seconds at a time in our first couple of days with the car, but it soon sorted itself out and played seamlessly after that, with excellent sound quality.
Steering wheel controls were also easy to use and the wheel itself felt good. The leather seats were fine but again, were not a stand out.
Engine and transmission
WHILE we weren’t super impressed by the cabin of the Q5, the powertrain was a completely different story.
The new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol unit that powers this Q5 is a cracker, and at 165kW/350Nm has a decent amount of kick for a 1.8-tonne mid-size SUV.
Audi has added an eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox to all petrol models in the Q5 line-up – a smart move as we barely noticed the transmission changing at all.
Another positive is that the German car-maker has elected to stick with all-wheel drive only for its Q5 range.
Straight line performance was nothing to be sniffed at, with an impressive 0-100km/h acceleration time of 7.1 seconds.
This was tested on a couple of occasions at traffic lights and the Q5 didn’t disappoint, with that sweet turbo-charged unit easily pushing the SUV to the front of the pack.
The Q5 proved that it was just as capable on the roads of regional Victoria by overtaking with ease on single-lane highways while maintaining its composure.
Official fuel consumption figures for the 2.0 TFSI is 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle. After a few days of highway, country and city cruising, we managed a fairly respectable 8.5 litres.
Ride and handling
SUVs have come a long way in recent years in terms of dynamism and while there are still a few larger SUVs that suffer from a truck-like ride, the Q5 is not one of them.
A number of newer models have arrived since the Q5 launched in 2009 that have challenged the Audi for the best drive in its class, most notably the Range Rover Evoque.
And while the Q5 may not have the sex appeal of the Rangie, it is still dynamically car-like and provides a fairly spirited drive.
Audi switched from hydraulic to electromechanical powered rack and pinion steering for the 2012 iteration and while the original wasn’t known for having a great steering feel, the newer model felt fine without being remarkable.
Some of the major regional roads that we used during our test were in desperate need of an upgrade.
While the Q5 didn’t exactly provide a harsh ride in these conditions, the suspension was a little stiffer than we would have liked.
Smaller bumps on the road were handled well, but anything slightly bigger made the ride get a little rough.
We were surprised then to see the Q5 handle so well on a slightly dirtier surface.
On one occasion we were forced to drive on a wet, unsealed road and the all-wheel drive Audi didn’t miss a beat. It stuck to the messy, clay-like surface and didn’t slip, even at speed.
Another positive was how well the Q5 handled corners. While it is no mid-engined sports-car, for a vehicle of its size and height, there was not a lot of noticeable body roll.
Safety and servicing
THE Q5 has been awarded a five star ANCAP safety rating and is fitted with eight airbags.
Audi offers a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty and service intervals are every 15,000kms or 12 months.
AUDI has obviously improved the value proposition of the 2012 Q5 by adding extras at no extra cost and it is clearly a very popular SUV in Australia.
The problem is that it just doesn’t feel very special. You would have to be a trainspotter to notice any change in exterior styling from the previous model and while it’s not bad to look at, it can’t compare to the sexy Range Rover Evoque or even the stylish Volvo XC60.
The drive is fine, the interior is fine but nothing really stands out in the Q5. It does everything well, but perhaps doesn’t excel in any particular area.
What saves the Q5 2.0 TFSI from being just OK however is that new turbo-charged petrol engine, which is a real winner.
There are plenty of potential buyers that will look at the Q5 purely based on the badge and maybe not consider any of its competitors. If that’s the case, we suggest taking the 2.0 TFSI for a spin, at least to experience that engine.
1. BMW X3 xDrive 20i AWD: From $59,000 plus on-road costs. A popular SUV with car-like dynamics and a Beemer badge.
2. Range Rover Evoque 2.0L Si Pure AWD: From $59,895 plus on-road costs. Strikingly different design appeals to people who value looks over substance, but luckily the ride of the Evoque is up there with the best in the segment.
3. Land Rover Freelander 2.0 Si4 SE: From $55,600 plus on-road costs. Real off-road ability and a great drive should put this SUV on a lot of people’s shopping lists.
4. Volvo XC60 AWD retails for $59,990 plus on-road costs. A stylish SUV that is a solid alternative to the Germans.
Make and model: Audi Q5 TFSI Quattro Tiptronic
, Engine type: 2.0-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder petrol
, Layout: All-wheel drive
, Power: 165kW @ 4500 - 6200
, Torque: 350Nm @ 1500 - 4500
, Transmission: Eight-speed Tiptronic
, 0-100km: 7.1 seconds
, Fuel consumption: 7.9L/100km
, CO2 rating: 184g/km
, Dimensions: 4629mm long/1898mm wide/1655mm high/2807mm wheelbase
, Weight: 1830kg
, Suspension: Five-link/independent front, trapezoidal-link rear
, Steering: Electro-mechanical assisted rack and pinion
, Price: $62,900
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