Audi Q5: confidently efficient
There’s a lot to like about Audis in general: handsome design both inside and out, an airy cabin, comfortable driving position, and excellent driving dynamics.
Its German rivals might be sharper, keener to drive (BMW), or have a tad more perceived prestige inherited from a generation past (Mercedes-Benz), or seem expensive (Lexus).
But nobody specs cars, balances fine design with functionality, and oozes well-heeled sophistication as Audi.
The all-new, second-generation Q5 (codenamed Typ 80A) was unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motorshow, broke cover in Singapore last year for the regional launch, and finally hit Philippine shores a few months after in the last quarter of 2017.
The new model has grown in every direction, now spanning 4.66 meters long, 1.89 meters wide, and 1.66 meters tall, with a wheelbase measuring 2.82 meters.
Yet despite the increase in size, weight is down by 90 kilograms, thanks to Audi’s ultra lightweight technology.
The chassis is based on the Volkswagen-Audi Group’s MLB Evo platform, the scaleable, modular platform architecture that is now prevalent in all of the motoring industry.
This approach helps bring down cost by rationalizing parts, and also makes R&D more efficient.
Gone are the soft, feminine folds, and instead are replaced by sharp, angular and well-defined creases, something we’ve seen in the new A8, Q7 SUV, R8 supercar, and the recently unveiled A7 4-door coupé.
Two engines are offered for now, both turbocharged, four cylinder mills sporting direct injection: a gasoline variant producing 248 hp and 350 Newton meters of torque, and a diesel one producing 168 hp and 400 Nm of torque.
Both versions drive all four wheels via Audi’s latest Quattro all-wheel drive, mated to a 7-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission that’s been tuned to behave more like a regular, torque-converted equipped automatic.
There’s a slight creep when slotted into drive, and the Q5 is far less jerky than its predecessors, not that the previous S-tronics were very jerky to begin with.
As a sidenote, Audi’s latest Quattro is dubbed Ultra Quattro because it disengages drive to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions to help save on fuel.
Much of what we know of Audi is present here: the aforementioned powertrain combination, the large horseshoe radiator grill, and Audi’s 12.3-inch TFT virtual cockpit instrument cluster inside, together with arguably the best multi-media system interface, Audi’s MMI.
As a bonus, our test unit, a premium diesel variant, comes with rich cocoa leather together with a powerful Bang & Olufsen surround sound system, which just really turns MP3 trash music into a concert-like experience.
You also get as much as 550 liters of cargo space, which increases to 1,550 liters with the second row seats folded, making the Q5 a serious load-lugger for your precious cargo.
Audis have long made a benchmark in efficiency. When the German Audi team started racing at Le Mans, they would be able to do a full lap more than their petrol-powered competitors in between pit stops, which, in an endurance race, over 24 hours, is all the difference.
Being the second most successful team in the sport, with 13 overall wins (behind Porsche’s 18 wins), means they know a thing or two about efficiency and speed.
Many years down the line, this proven technology has been passed down to the road car program, and the Q5 is able to do just over 20 kilometers per liter cruising between 90-110 km/h.
Going up to Tagaytay, pressed for time and overtaking slower cars, efficiency drops down to about 8.9-9.2 kilometers per liter. In the city, with traffic, it’s also around the same.
Going down Tagaytay and letting gravity do the work, the Q5 achieved close to 40 kilometers per liter.
Settling inside the Q5, visibility in and out of the cabin is excellent. The seats adjust 14 ways, with the steering wheel for reach and rake.
The Q5 suits a wide variety of statures. Choosing between drive modes in Audi’s drive select, I default to normal mode to give the car decent comfort, and a good balance of response and efficiency in changing traffic conditions.
In-cabin isolation is good: even at highway speeds, no wind and tire noise permeats, the Bang & Olufsen audio plays beautifully, or you can easily have a conversation with friends and family inside.
The steering is light, and our test unit swallows up the bumps and ruts through Cavite and Laguna, thanks to now modestly-sized 18-inch wheels with 235/65R18 tires. You can opt yours all the way to massive 21-inch wheels if that’s your thing.
Dynamic mode is just a tad too responsive and aggressive; it’s hard to find your rhythm given the ever-changing road and traffic conditions.
On an open highway, preferably a de-restricted stretch of the Autobahn, and this would be perfect.
On winding roads, the Q5 is supremely confident. It’s easy to find a rhythm to driving it smooth and devastatingly fast, far more so than you’d think prudent.
Despite not being as dynamically engaging (the feel, or subjective part), the Q5 is devastatingly effective and efficient as it carves and slices up corners.
Throw in some rain, light mud, some loose gravel, potholes and other road imperfections, and the Q5 remains composed and unflustered.
On the high street, the Audi is easy to handle. A modest 5.85-meter turning radius is promising, as is a 203-mm ground clearance that allows the Q5 to climb most city curbs, while overcoming some flash floods.
Should you decide to take it to your provincial home, that’s more than adequate ground clearance to clear the gravel driveway.
The Audi Q5 might not be the best driver’s tool, nor is it the most posh, or value-for-money, but it is arguably the most well-sorted, balanced and enjoyable car to own.
Space is good, there’s loads of versatility, fuel efficiency is legendary, and all the technology works wonders to provide you with more: safety, visibility, efficiency and comfort.
Some cars are only enjoyable when you’re in the mood. But what about 90 percent of the time when you’re not?
Some cars give you a sense of pride when people admire your vehicle? But you didn’t buy it to please others, did you now?
And seriously, if you wanted great value for money, you wouldn’t really be looking at this price point.
The Audi Q5 is for those who recognize true ability and forward-thinking yet functional design in a highly efficient and versatile, yet decently enjoyable, package.
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