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First drive: Newest Audi Q-car hits Oz
Audi aims at BMW’s X3 with its new mid-size luxury SUV, Q5
13 Mar 2009
THE newest member of Audi’s Q family is now available in Australia after this week’s launch of the mid-sized Q5 SUV, which will be a key component of the ambitious German car-maker’s bid to overtake BMW and Mercedes-Benz as the nation’s top-selling luxury vehicle brand by as early as 2012.
Joining the seven-seat Q7 as the Volkswagen premium brand’s second SUV, Audi believes the A4-based Q5 five-seater’s popularity will be limited only by supply, which is capped to 1000 vehicles this year.
That will make the Q5 Audi’s fourth-best-selling model in Australia this year, but Audi Australia is working hard to increase its production allocation and believes it could sell up to 1500 examples a year if it does so.
That sort of following would see the Q5 eclipse all other Audi models here except the volume-selling A4 and A3 small-cars – as well as its most direct rival in BMW’s X3.
Neither company’s soft-roader plans end there, however, with compact SUVs to come in the form of BMW’s 1 Series-based X1 and Audi’s A3-based Q3.
The Q5, Audi’s most important model to be released in 2009, made its Australian public debut at last week’s Melbourne International Motor Show, where its other chief competitor was also revealed in the shape of Volvo’s first mid-sized SUV, the XC60.
While the XC60 is priced from $57,950 for the entry-level 2.4 D5 turbo-diesel and the X3’s range starts with the xDrive 20d turbo-diesel at $61,830, the Q5 opens its account mid-way between the two at $59,990.
That money buys either the 2.0 TDI or 2.0 TFSI, while the petrol V6-powered 3.2 FSI is $10,000 more expensive at $69,990 and the flagship 3.0 TDI costs a further $2000 more at $71,900.
However, while the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol TFSI and 3.0-litre turbo-diesel TDI are available now, the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and 3.2-litre petrol versions will not arrive until late April or May.
As in Europe, all four Q5 variants come standard with Audi’s trademark ‘quattro’ torque-sensing permanent all-wheel drive system, mated to the first longitudinal engine application of the Audi’s new seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automated manual transmission, which is also standard in Australia.
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.
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 a whole 216mm higher.
While it doesn’t look significantly smaller than the (5086mm) Q7, it is in fact 457mm shorter, while also being 202mm longer than Volkswagen’s (4457mm) Tiguan.
Other key dimensions include 200mm of ground clearance, a 25-degree approach angle, a 500mm maximum fording depth and 31-degree incline capability.
A mild 14.6-degree ramp-over angle is the only statistic that fails to meet Australian ‘SUV’ requirements, but the Q5 meets the pre-requisite four of five criteria required to qualify for the lower federal SUV import duty.
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 (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC, or ESP in Audi-speak) system, which in this case comprises a selectable off-road mode that switches of 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.
Powering the 2.0 TDI is Audi’s 1.968-litre inline DOHC four-cylinder diesel engine with a variable-geometry turbocharger and direct-injection, which produces 125kW at 4200rpm and 350Nm from 1750rpm.
With a kerb weight of 1770kg, 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, making it exempt from luxury car tax.
Also priced under $60,000 is the Q5 2.0 TFSI, which is powered by a 155kW/350Nm (using premium unleaded petrol, at a respective 6000rpm and 4200rpm) version of the VW Group’s 1.984-litre four-cylinder direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder, which is also expected to power the new Golf GTI.
It weighs 1740kg and offers claimed 0-100 acceleration in 7.2 seconds, a 222km/h top speed, average CO2 emissions of 197g/km and average fuel consumption of 8.5L/100km.
The 3.0 TDI employs the same 2.967-litre V6 turbo-diesel as other Audi models, and includes second-generation common-rail direct-injection to deliver 176kW at 4000rpm and 500Nm from just 1500rpm.
Despite an extra 125kg of kerb weight to lug, the (1865kg) V6 TDI sprints to 100km/h in a claimed 6.5 seconds, and a 225km/h stated top speed. Average CO2 emissions and fuel consumption as listed at 199g/km and 7.5L/100km respectively.
The Q5 3.2 FSI is just 25kg heavier than the 2.0 TDI at 1795kg, and though it is not as quick as the 3.0 TSI (0-100 in a claimed 6.9 seconds) it’s the fastest of the bunch with a 234km/h claimed top speed.
Its 3.197-litre direct-injection petrol V6 delivers 199kW at 6500rpm and 330Nm at 3000rpm, and returns average emissions and consumption of 218g/km and 9.3L/100km respectively. Like the 2.0 TFSI, the 3.2 FSI requires 95-RON unleaded.
All Q5 variants feature independent five-link front and trapezoidal-link rear suspension, Servotronic road-speed variable power steering and a maximum 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.
Read more:Melbourne show: Audi Q5 makes Aussie debut
Audi prices Q5 under $60K
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