2013 AUDI Q5 REVIEW
Vehicle style: Luxury SUV
Power/Torque: 165kW/350Nm or 200kW/400Nm (petrol)
Power/Torque: 130kW/380Nm or 180kW/580Nm (diesel)
Fuel consumption listed: 6.1-8.5L/100km | on test: N/A
In new car sales, luxury soft-roaders are among the hottest items on the market.
Audi is more than aware of this; its midsized Q5 now accounts for one-in-five cars wearing the four-ring logo that roll out of Audi's Australian showrooms.
As before, there are two petrol and two diesel drivetrains in the line-up. What’s different, though, is that all now feature either a turbo or supercharger under the bonnet, and a bit more sparkle at the throttle.
The range kicks off with a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and all-wheel-drive traction, and tops out with a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel, also with the seven-speeder.
A 3.0-litre supercharged V6 mated to an eight-speed auto replaces the former 3.2-litre V6, while the base petrol is a revised version of the 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder also mated to an eight-speeder.
Performance figures rise slightly across all engines, including the supercharged V6.
The four-model range still kicks off from a luxury car tax-beating $62,200, however, prices at the top end rise ever so slightly to stop at $75,500 for the V6 diesel.
More chrome and a significantly restyled steering wheel are the most noticeable changes to the Q5’s interior.
One big difference is a couple of shallow storage bins built in under both front seats. They add some much needed small-item storage.
Other slight interior tweaks include silver buttons (instead of black) surrounding the centre console-mounted dial that controls the dash-mounted multimedia screen, and an electrically-operated tailgate.
The front seats in the base-model 2.0 TDI also add electric adjustment for the first time, and something else that customers said they found important: lumbar support.
And there’s no need to fumble around in pockets for the key. A smart key that senses if you are close to the car and automatically unlocks it on approach is now standard fare.
The V6-engined models also get a longer equipment list, including a better sat-nav system, a reversing camera that pops up on the dash-mounted screen, and memory settings for the seats and wing mirrors.
The interior retains the previous Q5’s clever touches, such as rear seats that slide to-and-fro to liberate more space in the slightly tight boot.
Safety remains at eight airbags, although a suite of electronic driver aids including lane-diversion warnings and active cruise control (that includes a low-speed collision avoidance system) are now available at a cost.
Speaking of cost, you will still have to dig deep for customising your Q5; metallic paint alone for instance adds a staggering $1850.
ON THE ROAD
A lot of work on the dynamics has changed the way the Q5 drives.
Key to this is a new electrically-assisted power steering system, a revised suspension with softer springs but stiffer shock absorbers, and the added poke of the engine line-up.
The big change under the bonnet is the replacement of the 3.2-litre V6 and its replacement with a supercharged V6. It accelerates the Q5’s 1915kg heft smoothly and confidently, with no accompanying whine from the supercharger.
The Q5 could have been heavier than that, with this generation of the luxury soft-roader now using an aluminium bonnet and tailgate skin, shedding more than 100kg alongside other weight-saving measures.
Changes to the suspension have made the V6-engined cars ride better, but at a cost to ride comfort in the four-cylinder versions.
While the big V6s absorb most of the lumps and bumps at highway speeds, the 'fours' feel just a little unsettled and nervous, with a slight shudder evident over sharper hits.
The new fuel-saving steering adds a button to the dash that allows the driver to adjust the weight and feel through five different settings according to need.
An off-road drive followed by a long highway grind from outback South Australia to Adelaide provided few clues as to how the drivetrains, particularly the traditionally grabby dual-clutch gearboxes of the two diesel models, will perform in urban duties.
But all had a deep well of torque for overtaking on the highway, and hills pose no problems for the potent drivetrains.
Our time behind the wheel of the entry-level 2.0-litre diesel showed-off the Q5’s off-road ability and general versatility.
Its Quattro all-wheel-drive system is a match for other soft-roaders (although the low 200mm clearance can be an issue) but is soundly beaten by the likes of the Evoque in rougher going.
We’ll have to dismiss our launch drive fuel use figures because of the drive program’s slant towards highway cruising, but officially the range will sip only 6.1 l/100km for the entry-level four-cylinder diesel up to 8.5 l/100km for the supercharged V6 petrol.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
Audi’s "don’t-call-it-a-facelift" 2013 Q5 adds a sharper look to an already accomplished luxury soft-roader that is much more at home in the city.
It looks better than before, certainly, and the interior comfort is befitting of the premium price tag.
Enhancements to the steering and suspension work well at low speeds, but seem to penalise the lighter four-cylinder engine cars with a slightly unsettled ride at higher speeds – a reverse of the way things were with the former line-up.
However, the Q5’s best-seller status is being challenged by a new crop of up-and-coming challengers, including a sharp-looking Range Rover Evoque that includes genuine off-road ability that the Q5 only pretends to have.
BMW’s X3 barely threatens in sales, but is certainly a competent alternative.
Audi's Q5 is improved, yes, but will it be enough? That perhaps depends upon what you're looking for and where you're planning to do your driving.
- 2013 Audi Q5 2.0 TDI - $62,200
- 2013 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI - $62,900
- 2013 Audi Q5 3.0 TFSI - $74,100
- 2013 Audi Q5 3.0 TDI - $75,500
Note: prices exclude on-road costs.