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First drive: Audi fortifies high-flying Q5

Powered up: Two more engine options adds to the appeal of the classy Audi Q5 SUV.

A four-pot diesel and V6 petrol complete Audi’s conquest of the mid-luxury SUV class

29 May 2009

BUOYED by waiting lists of up to six months, Audi has bolstered its popular medium-sized Q5 luxury SUV with an additional diesel and petrol proposition.

This effectively doubles the range and cements the Audi’s segment leadership after just two months of sales in Australia.

The Volkswagen premium brand already has more than 980 units in its order bank, and is now seeking an additional allotment to the 1100 Q5s that the Ingolstadt-based head office has allocated for Audi Australia.

Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann said his company was in talks with the factory for more stock.

“We need more cars,” he said when speaking to the media at the launch of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder TDI turbo-diesel and 3.2-litre V6 FSI direct petrol injection models in Canberra this week.

As we mentioned in March, an increase in production allocation could jack that figure up to more than 1500 units in 2009.

Since being released in Australia in the first quarter of 2009, Audi has shifted 100 units in March, and 150 in April, while May is on track to exceed 160 Q5s.

7 center image Left: Audi Q5 3.2 FSI, and below 2.0 TDI.

This puts the medium premium SUV contender ahead of the recently released Volvo XC60, Land Rover Freelander 2 and BMW X3 – although the latter is in the twilight years of its model cycle, and is up for a complete renewal next year.

“We’re confident it will continue as the top-selling SUV in its class throughout the year, thanks to a very steady order bank,” Mr Hofmann said.

Audi reckons the 2.0 TDI will match its 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder petrol brethren as the Q5 bestseller, with 35 per cent of volume apiece.

The newcomer employs Audi’s 1.968-litre twin-cam four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine featuring a variable-geometry turbocharger and direct-injection to help deliver 125kW of power at 4200rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1750rpm to 2500rpm.

Tipping the scales from 1770kg, the 2.0 TDI’s claimed performance figures include 0-100km/h acceleration in 9.9 seconds, a 200km/h top speed, combined CO2 emissions of 179g/km and average fuel consumption of 6.8L/100km.

The latter means this Q5 is one of 19 Audi models to be exempt from the luxury car tax, since it does not breach the federal government’s mandated 7.0L/100km maximum.

While about 30 per cent of Q5 buyers will choose the flagship 176kW/500Nm 3.0-litre V6 TDI turbo-diesel, Audi estimates that only five per cent will plonk for the new 3.2 FSI.

At 1795kg, it is just 25kg heavier than the 2.0 TDI, and though it is not as quick as the 3.0 TDI (0-100 in a claimed 6.9 seconds), the 3.2 FSI is the fleetest of the foursome with its 234km/h claimed top speed.

The 3.197-litre direct-injection petrol V6 delivers 199kW at 6500rpm and 330Nm from 3000 to 5000rpm, and returns average emissions and consumption of 218g/km and 9.3L/100km respectively. It also requires 95-RON unleaded petrol.

Driving all four wheels on every Q5 – via Audi’s famous quattro torque-sensing Torsen permanent all-wheel drive system – is a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

Unlike the front-drive biased clutch-operated Haldex system, which is shared with Volkswagen models and misleadingly also carries the quattro name on Audis A3 and TT, it directs 60 per cent of engine torque to the rear wheels in normal conditions, but can send 65 per cent to the front axle and 85 per cent to the rear if required.

Like the A4 and A5, the Q5 leverages Audi’s new MLB architecture, which sees the front wheels pushed further forward than in previous longitudinally engined models from the Ingolstadt, Germany-based company, to create a more favourable front-to-rear weight balance.

This means that it is a car-based monocoque SUV, rather than a separate chassis model.

Riding on a wheelbase that’s 1mm shorter than the A4’s at 2807mm, the Q5 measures 4629mm long, 1880mm wide and 1653mm high, making it 74mm shorter than the A4 Avant, but 44mm wider and 216mm higher.

Other key dimensions include 200mm of ground clearance, a 25-degree approach angle, a 500mm maximum fording depth and 31-degree incline capability.

No full-size spare wheel/tyre is available for the Q5, which makes do with a space-saving temporary spare that’s restricted to 80km/h.

All Q5s also come with a standard anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC, or ESP in Audi-speak) system, which in this case comprises a selectable off-road mode that switches off traction control and extends the ESC and ABS thresholds under 70km/h.

A unique extension to the non-switchable Bosch 8.1 ESP system reduces the ESC threshold if it detects roof racks fitted to the standard aluminium roof rails – whether or not they are carrying a load, which Audi says is limited to 100kg.

Audi says the exclusively steel-sprung Q5 offers class-leading luggage capacity of 540 litres – extending to 1560 litres with the rear seats stowed, which is said to be enough to accommodate four golf bags. The rear bench seat slides 100mm fore/aft, is split 40/20/40 and its seatbacks can be folded via side or rear levers.

All variants feature a rear roof spoiler, LED indicators integrated into the wing mirrors, a wrap-around tailgate with integrated tail-lights, a unique headlight design with 12 LEDs and Audi’s hallmark single-frame grille with vertical bars – grey for entry-level four-cylinder variants and gloss black for the V6s.

Audi claims the Q5 also offers best-in-class aerodynamics (with a drag coefficient of 0.33Cd), acceleration and top speed, while the 2.0 TDI is said to be the most efficient in its category.

All Q5 variants feature independent five-link front and trapezoidal-link rear suspension, Servotronic road-speed variable power steering and a maximum braked/unbraked towing capacity of 750kg/2400kg.

Standard equipment across the range includes twin adaptive front airbags with seat position sensors, twin front side/thorax airbags, twin front/rear head curtain airbags and micro-dot vehicle identification, plus a hill descent control system that works between nine and 30km/h. Audi’s Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system with 6.5-inch screen and an electromechanical parking brake are also standard.

Both four-cylinder Q5s come with 17x7.0-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels with 235/65-section tyres, plus rear parking sensors, ‘leather/leatherette’ seat trim, Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control, a six-CD/10-speaker/180-Watt sound system, a multi-function steering wheel, daytime running lights and automatic headlights and wipers.

V6 variants add 18-inch 10-spoke alloys with 235/60-section tyres, keyless starting, powered front seats, full Milano leather trim, a sports steering wheel, three-zone climate-control and woodgrain interior highlights.

Options include Audi’s third-generation MMI Navigation Plus from the facelifted A6 ($6200, including a 40GB hard-drive, two SD card slots and a seven-inch colour screen), the Audi Drive Select adaptive damping and transmission system ($5215), Xenon Plus headlights with LED ‘eyebrows’ ($2283), adaptive radar cruise control ($2230), a panoramic glass sunroof ($2934), a folding front passenger seat ($350, with full leather only) and a hill-hold function ($110). Metallic paint is a pricey $1900 option, while Milano leather costs $3240 on 2.0-litre Q5s.

An off-road pack comprising an alloy underbody guard and side steps will become available within weeks.

Audi Australia says it expects the average Q5 buyer to be 45-year-old design-focussed individual, married and predominantly male.

2009 Audi Q5 range pricing:
2.0 TDI (a) $59,990
2.0 TFSI (a) $59,990
3.2 FSI (a) $69,990
3.0 TDI (a) $71,900

Read more:

Melbourne show: Audi Q5 makes Aussie debut

Audi prices Q5 under $60K

GoAuto can help you buy a new Q5

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