Audi has launched the Audi Q5, its latest entrant into the prestige soft-roader segment and the baby brother to Audi's existing Q7 luxury off-roader. It also spearheads Audi's drive to expand its 'Q line-up, which will eventually include the three-door Q3 and the Volkswagen Polo-based Q1 mini-crossover.
Proportionally, the Q5 is more carlike than your average SUV. While overall height is a fairly tall 1.65m, the Q5's 4.63m length makes it slightly shorter than the Audi A4 but slightly longer than BMW's X3 - arguably its main competitor. Audi has also managed to endow the Q5 with the longest wheelbase in its class - 2.81m, to be precise - through the repositioning of the front differential. The Q5's coefficient of drag is also very carlike at just 0.33, which should pay dividends during freeway cruising when drag is the biggest killer of fuel economy.
Speaking of economy, Audi has elected to give the Q5 a predominantly diesel engine lineup, with two diesels and one petrol motor on offer. All of them employ turbochargers to keep power up without increasing displacement and while Audi insists the Q5's emphasis is on sportiness, the outputs of these motors doesn't really inspire neck-snapping acceleration. Down the lower end of the scale is the 2.0 litre turbodiesel inline-four, which pumps out a useful 125kW and 350Nm of torque. It's no rocket motor, but its average fuel economy figure of just 6.7 litres per 100km should help you forget about its relatively slow 9.5 second 0-100kph sprint time.
Providing a bit more poke is the petrol-powered 2.0 litre turbo four, which boasts 155kW and the same 350Nm torque figure as the base diesel, enabling the Q5 to get up to highway speed in a relatively quick 7.2 seconds. Unfortunately, the Q5's 1700kg+ weight blunts the petrol motor's economy, making it the biggest guzzler of the lot with a fuel consumption of 8.5l/100km.
The pick of the bunch, however, would have to be the 3.0 litre V6 turbodiesel, which produces 176kW and a huge 500Nm of torque to launch the Q5 to 100 clicks in a sprightly 6.5 seconds. Its abundance of low-down torque also helps keep its thirst down, with an average of just 7.5 litres of diesel needed to propel the V6 Q5 for 100km.
The V6 diesel and the 2.0 litre petrol both get Audi's new S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox, which boasts the ability to shift between its seven ratios within a few hundredths of a second and also offers the driver full manual control via a pair of steering wheel-mounted paddles. The 2.0 litre diesel makes do with a six-speed manual gearbox, while Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive is fitted as standard across the range, with the default torque split set at 40/60 front to rear.
For all its carlike abilities, the Q5 still retains a great deal of off-road ability. Audi says that it can handle a 31 degree gradient, pass over 20cm-high obstacles with ease and wade through 50cm-deep water. Hill descent control helps regulate speeds on downward slopes, while the Q5's ABS and ESP systems feature dirt-specific modes to help keep you on the beaten path.
As far as luxury off-roaders go, the Q5 is a pretty attractive thing. The familiar Audi design language is prominently on display with that massive grille, while the sloping C-pillar suggests a car that's less about utility and more about driving pleasure. But don't let that image fool you, the Q5 still manages to pack a large number of useful features into its body. That aluminium tailgate is one of the largest I've ever seen, and by incorporating the tailights into the 'gate Audi has managed to create a boot opening that's massive and easily accessed. The rear seats can be folded flat to increase boot space from 530 litres to 1560 litres, while there's also a storage compartment beneath the boot floor.
Other standard mod cons include climate control and an 8-speaker stereo system. Higher spec Q5s also get Bluetooth phone integration, a Bang and Olufsen audio system, DVD drive, TV receiver, digital radio, heated/chilled cupholders and a panoramic glass roof, to name but a few of the many options.
While most major markets around the world will get their mitts on the mid-size SUV, Australian motorists will need to wait until the second quarter of 2009 to get theirs. Pricing has yet to be announced, but expect it to be priced competitively with the BMW X3.
Audi is creating a new market segment: the Audi Q5, the new performance SUV, combines the dynamism of a sports sedan with an impressively versatile interior and multiple talents aimed at leisure and family use. Three powerful, efficient engines, quattro permanent all-wheel drive and an agile suspension layout form an impressive technological package for on-road and off-road use. The innovative seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission and the driving dynamics system Audi drive select are among the other highlights.
The Audi Q5 is the sports car in the SUV category and the perfect car for an active lifestyle â€“ it is progressive and dynamic, spacious, multifunctional and comfortable. It will be appearing in the fourth quarter of 2008 internationally, and in the second quarter of 2009 for Australia.
The proportions: new configuration
The Audi Q5 is 4.63 metres (15.19 ft) long and 1.88 metres (6.17 ft) wide, but only 1.65 metres (5.41 ft) high, giving it the sportiest proportions in its market category. Its drag coefficient of just 0.33 also represents a top figure for its category. The Q5's design is elegant and sculptural â€“ typically for Audi, which is the leading brand in this domain. The large single-frame grill dominates the front end, and the headlamps can be supplied with xenon plus bulbs and LED daytime running lights as options, in which case the rear lights also feature LED technology.
The side view is dominated by large wheels and rising lines; the elegant roof contour, crowned by flat roof rails, accentuates the Audi Q5's slim, coupe-like appearance. The wraparound tailgate, like the front lid, is made from lightweight aluminium. There are three versions to choose from for the exterior add-on parts â€“ black (standard), color-contrasting, or in the body color. Then there are two body packages. The S line exterior package creates an even sportier look, while the offroad style package has a more gritty look thanks to the underbody guard at the front and rear, and 19-inch wheels.
The wheelbase of 2.81 metres (9.22 ft), the best figure in the segment, means that there is abundant space on board the Audi Q5. The seats are ergonomically shaped and of a flexible design. The angle of the rear seat backs can be adjusted and they can be laid flat very easily â€“ it suffices to operate the release catches in the cargo area so that they can be folded down onto the seat cushions. This increases the cargo capacity from 540 to 1,560 liters (19.07 to 55.09 cubic ft), and there is a second storage compartment beneath its floor panel. There is a load guard as standard, and a cargo-securing kit, a dirt-resistant tray and electric drive for the tailgate are available as options.
The Q5 is a performance SUV that is a highly talented all-rounder for sport, leisure and family use. As an option Audi can supply the rear bench seat plus, which can be adjusted longitudinally by 100 millimetres (3.94 in) and incorporates a load-through hatch. There is also the option of a folding seat back for the front passenger's seat. The Audi Q5 comes with an array of factory-fitted storage compartments and power sockets; a climate-controlled cup holder (option) keeps drinks cool or warm. Another ingenious detail is the fixing point in the front passenger's footwell, to which various storage facilities can be secured.
Out in front: the safety equipment
The body of the Audi Q5 contains a high proportion of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel components. These reduce weight and at the same time improve crash safety, rigidity and vibrational behavior â€“ the impression created by the performance SUV is of an utterly robust, comfortable and quiet car. On the front seats the belt force limiters and airbags combine in a new, particularly intelligent way.
Inside, the Q5 presents a variation on Audi's clear, elegant design language. The cockpit has a bias towards the driver; its controls can be operated with intuitive ease and the build quality entertains no compromises, as is customary in an Audi. Choice materials such as aluminium, wood, chrome, leather and Alcantara lend the interior even greater appeal.
The electromechanical parking brake, the intelligent key, the automatic air conditioning and the display in the instrument cluster are standard; on the Audi Q5 2.0 TDI with manual transmission, the display shows the correct gear as a recommendation for efficient driving. A large central monitor is also standard on all models. If the car is fitted with MMI navigation plus, many of the operating functions are grouped together in the MMI terminal on the center tunnel. This best-in-market operating system has entered a new generation â€“ its operation via the large rotary/pushbutton control is now even more intuitive.
Powerful and efficient: the engines
The Audi Q5 is appearing on the market with three engines â€“ one gasoline and two TDI. All of them are direct injection units with turbocharging. Their major strengths are high performance, beefy pulling power, refined running â€“ and impressive fuel efficiency.
The 2.0 TFSI has been redesigned from the ground up. The four-cylinder engine combines three hi-tech features â€“ turbocharging, gasoline direct injection, and the innovative Audi valvelift system for variable control of valve lift. Its high torque of 350 Nm (258.15 lb-ft) is already reached at 1,500 rpm and is maintained constantly up to 4,200 rpm; the maximum power output is 155 kW (211 hp). The Audi Q5 2.0 TDI reaches 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 7.2 seconds from a standing start, and has a top speed of 222 km/h (137.94 mph). Its fuel consumption averages just 8.5 liters per 100 km (27.67 US mpg).
The 2.0 TDI, which owes its particular refinement to a common rail fuel injection system, also has a displacement of two liters; just like the gasoline version it has two balancing shafts. Also developing 350 Nm (258.15 lb-ft) of torque (from 1,750 to 2,500 rpm), this diesel unit is capable of powerful acceleration and develops a high power output of 125 kW (170 hp). Its average fuel consumption of only 6.7 liters per 100 km (35.11 US mpg) supplies ample proof of Audi's efficiency strategy. The two-liter TDI propels the Audi Q5 from zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 9.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 204 km/h (126.76 mph).
The 3.0 TDI is the most powerful engine in the range. The V6 diesel summons up all of 176 kW (240 hp) and â€“ from 1,500 to 3,000 rpm â€“ 500 Nm (368.78 lb-ft) of torque. This superlative power takes the Audi Q5 from a standstill to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 225 km/h (139.81 mph). On average the three-liter engine needs only 7.5 liters of fuel per 100 km (30.55 US mpg).
The 2.0 TDI channels its power through a six-speed transmission. For the 3.0 TDI and 2.0 TFSI, Audi has developed a new generation of the dynamic S tronic â€“ the innovative dual-clutch transmission now has seven gears. The hi-tech unit changes gear within a few hundredths of a second, and also provides astonishingly smooth gearshifts and high efficiency. The driver can set the seven-speed S tronic to change gear automatically or they can decide for themselves when to shift gear, optionally also via shift paddles on the steering wheel.
As on the Audi A4, the best midsize sedan in the opinion of the trade press, the driveline of the Audi Q5 features a differential located ahead of the clutch, and immediately behind the engine. This repositions the front axle well forward, resulting in a long wheelbase and an ideal axle load distribution. That in turn is the key to the Audi Q5's major strengths â€“ its unruffled directional stability, high standard of comfort and thrilling dynamism.
Audi equips all versions of the Q5 with quattro permanent all-wheel drive. This distributes the engine's power 40:60 between the front and rear wheels, producing a slightly rear-biased, sporty characteristic. If need be, the quattro powertrain can divert up to 65 percent of the torque to the front wheels, or as much as 85 percent to the rear.
Aluminium links: the suspension
The suspension, too, underscores the dynamic character of the Audi Q5. The direct steering layout provides an intimate link between the driver and the road. The five-link front suspension and the trapezoidal-link rear suspension are made substantially from aluminium, and the underslung steering gear applies adjustments at the steering wheel directly to the wheels. Large brakes provide powerful deceleration. 17-inch alloy wheels with size 235/65 tires are fitted as standard, or Audi can supply wheels measuring up to 20 inches in diameter as options.
Audi's performance SUV drives with sporty precision and unwavering stability, while always providing a comfortable ride. Its ESP stabilization system incorporates new functions that the competition is unable to match. For instance, the ESP has a sensor that identifies when a roof rack is fitted and then knows that the Audi Q5's center of gravity is higher â€“ this is significant, because the roof load may be as much as 100 kilograms (220.46 lb).
In this instance the ESP cuts in slightly earlier once the handling limits are approached; this allows the system to adopt a very dynamic basic characteristic. With a trailer load of 2.4 metric tons (4409.25 lb) (braked, at a gradient of eight percent) the Q5 is a powerful towing vehicle.
But the Audi Q5 also excels on rough terrain. Its climbing performance is an exceptionally high 31 degrees. The angles of approach and departure are 25 degrees, and the ramp breakover angle where the wheelbase really does matter is 17.6 degrees. The ground clearance is a substantial 20 centimetres (7.87 in) and a wading depth of 50 centimetres (19.69 in) is permitted when driving through water.
The standard-fit hill descent assist makes driving down steep slopes safer by holding the speed at below 30 km/h (18.64 mph). The ESP and ABS use special characteristic maps for off-road driving. The ESP majors on maximum traction in off-road conditions. The ABS automatically identifies the surface conditions and selects the ideal control strategy for sand, gravel or scree.
Audi drive select â€“ made for driving enjoyment
On the road, too, a whole package of optional high-end technologies make the experience of driving the Audi Q5 even more captivating. The Audi drive select control system manages the engine's throttle response, the power assistance for the steering and the S tronic shift points in automatic mode. The driver determines at the push of a button whether these functions should have a predominantly comfortable, balanced or sporty response. If the MMI navigation plus system is also fitted, there is a fourth characteristic map that the driver can program as preferred.
Audi drive select can also be extended with two other innovative technologies â€“ electronic control for the shock absorbers, and Audi dynamic steering. Equipped with a superposition gear, it varies the steering ratio and power assistance continuously depending on road speed â€“ between a direct ratio at low speed and an indirect ratio at high speed. Near the handling limits, the dynamic steering stabilizes the Audi Q5 in tandem with the ESP by applying minor adjustments to the steering with lightning speed.
Audi is equipping its new performance SUV lavishly â€“ such items as the automatic air conditioning and the audio system with eight speakers are included as standard. There is a particularly attractive system of multimedia components available. In the top specification, MMI navigation plus with hard drive and DVD drive, a Bluetooth phone, a TV tuner, an intelligent speech control system, digital radio reception, an interface for an iPod or MP3 player with USB connection and a high-end sound system from the Danish specialist Bang & Olufsen can all be combined. The top navigation system uses a high-resolution monitor to provide a new, three-dimensional map display. Its hard drive can also store music files in MP3 format.
The assistance systems: luxury from the full-size category
Audi can on request equip the Q5 with hi-tech systems adopted from the full-size category, making driving an even more controlled, relaxing affair. The Audi parking system advanced is a parking aid with rearview camera, Audi lane assist helps the driver to stay in lane, and Audi side assist alerts the driver to potential hazards when changing lane. The adaptive cruise control system keeps the performance SUV at a constant distance from the vehicle in front, and the auxiliary function known as braking guard warns an inattentive driver to prevent a nose-to-tail collision.
The other equipment items likewise underscore the Audi Q5's status as a performance model. These include the convenient key for keyless access, standard-fit tire pressure monitoring, a large panoramic sunroof, three-zone automatic air conditioning, roller sun blinds for the rear side windows and the dynamic cornering light system Audi adaptive light. The high-beam assistant switches automatically between high-beam and low-beam headlamps. The front seats can be adjusted, heated and cooled electrically.
At a glance
The Audi Q5
- Length 4,629 mm (182.24 in), width 1,880 mm (74.02 in), height 1,653 mm (65.08 in)
- Dynamic proportions, best-in-class drag coefficient of 0.33
- Two design packages available
- Cargo capacity 540 to 1,560 liters (19.07 to 55.09 cubic ft)
- Numerous practical details for sport and leisure use, longitudinally adjustable
rear bench seat and folding front passenger's seat back as options
- Long wheelbase of 2.81 metres (9.22 ft), generous amount of space, many
- Intuitive operation, redesigned MMI system available on request
- Particularly high standard of passive safety
- Two TDIs and one TFSI, ranging from 125 kW (170 hp) to 176 kW (240 hp)
- All engines with direct fuel injection and turbocharging, newly developed
2.0 TFSI with AVS valve timing system
- New, dynamic S tronic dual-clutch transmission with seven speeds
- quattro drive with sporty characteristic fitted as standard on all versions
- Front axle located further forward,
- Audi drive select driving dynamics system, dynamic steering and adaptive
damping control available optionally
- Superbly capable off-road, hill descent assist as standard
- Automatic air conditioning and audio system come standard
- Modern assistance and communication systems available
- Large panoramic glass roof available optionally