It’s truly incredible to see how far diesel engines have come in the past decade or so. The one found under the nose of Audi’s latest Q5 2.0 TDI is a case in point.
This common-rail, 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel is turbocharged and intercooled, and produces 130kW at 4200rpm with rich torque of 380Nm between 1750-2500rpm. Mated to a seven-speed s-tronic dual-clutch transmission, it is enough to propel the near-1900kg five-door SUV to 100km/h in nine seconds flat. It can also return incredible fuel figures of 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle; regularly such claims are unfounded in reality, but after a week and around 250 kilometres of driving, I returned the Q5 to Audi with the 75-litre tank’s fuel gauge barely moving from full.
So, the Q5 diesel delivers near-petrol performance numbers with similar refinement and better economy. It is also much smoother than previous-gen diesels, with only the barest chatter on start-up. Indeed, from within the confines of the well-appointed cabin, you simply cannot feel any idle vibration resulting from the power-plant.
Under load, it remains refined and relatively quiet, admittedly not making the music a powerful petrol engine can, but remaining inoffensive nonetheless. But there is more to the Q5 than its cutting-edge diesel engine.
The Q5 is an understated, attractive SUV, just large enough to have presence without feeling like you need a heavy vehicle licence to drive it around town. All models (including 2.0 TDI, 2.0 TFSI, 3.0 TDI and 3.0 TFSI) ride standard on 18-inch alloys with 235/60 tyres and come with Audi’a famed quattro all-wheel drive system. The tested 2.0 TDI also came with popular options, such as a blindspot warning system, and the ‘Technik’ package, which adds Audi’s MMI navigation system (on a 7.0-inch screen), parking system, reversing camera and three-zone climate control.
Stepping up into the cabin, it’s immediately apparent that Q5 continues Audi’s traditional interior theme- the fit and finish are superb, the quality of the materials used very high. Being a medium-sized SUV the Q5 also offers an airy, upright view all ‘round, enhancing visibility and therefore safety. While on safety, the Q5’s five-star ANCAP rating, eight airbags and full suite of electronic safety acronyms add peace of mind. Leather trim with electric front seats, Bluetooth integration, multi-function steering wheel and 180-watt, 10-speaker sound system highlight the standard equipment list.
With a rear seat which folds 40:20:40 the storage flexibility of the Q5’s cabin is also worthy of note; folded up, the luggage capacity rates at 540 litres, with them down that grows to 1560. Subtle benefits, such as the automatic opening (and closing) tailgate also make things easier when lugging a load.
On the road, the Q5 reveals once more why it is a leading seller in this class. The drive is smooth and unruffled with light low-speed steering for a car of this size, but enough information coming through the wheel to gauge what the front tyres are experiencing. It corners flat for an SUV, and the engine’s ever-present torque well is ready to accelerate you out the other side.
The gearbox, along with the steering and throttle response, can be adjusted via the ‘Audi drive select’ button. This allows the driver to cycle through individual, dynamic, auto, eco and comfort drive modes. They do make a difference, the gearbox smoothing out changes in comfort and auto before giving a positive thud in dynamic.
The Q5 is also fitted with automatic stop/start functionality, which is great for saving fuel but can feel disconcerting. In fact, it reveals itself as the one niggle we had during testing. Pulling up to a set of lights, the stop/start engages, but when you want to move off again, the engine only reignites once brake pressure is released. That’s fine, but the hesitation in the dual-clutch gearbox as it prepares to take off once more is amplified by this process- you can feel the gearbox taking up drive, in much the same way as you feed in a manual car’s clutch pedal. It takes a bit of anticipation and experience to smooth out these situations.
This minor blot aside, the Q5 really impressed on highway as much as it did in the city. With rivals such as BMW’s X3, Range Rover’s Evoque and the Volvo XC60, Audi has done very well to keep the Q5 at the head of the pack.
The current model series includes the:
For any more information on the Audi Q5, or for that matter any other new car, contact one of our friendly consultants on 1300 303 181. If you’d like some fleet discount pricing (yes even for private buyers!) we can submit vehicle quote requests out to our national network of Mitsubishi dealers and come back with pricing within 24 hours. Private Fleet – car buying made easy!
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