by: Mike Ginsca
As fuel prices continue to rise, more and more people are looking to downsize their thirsty SUVs but still keep the safety and space that they offer. Auto manufacturers are listening to the demands on customers as more and more CUVs (Crossover Utility Vehicle) crowd the market. Now Audi has taken a stab at the CUV market with the first generation Q5.
Performance – The Q5 is powered by the same 3.2L V6 that can be found in almost the entire Audi range. This particular engine has been tweaked a bit to produce 270hp and 243lb-ft of torque. The engine feels “peppy” and “energetic” throughout the whole rev band and the 6-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quickly no matter how you are driving. Compared to its rivals from BMW and Mercedes, the Audi Q5 has no trouble keeping up with them in a straight line with 0-100km/h being done in 6.6 seconds.
When the roads get twisty and slick, the Q5 benefits from its Quattro all-wheel-drive system that gives the driver a sense of security and confidence. In the dry, the Q5 feels more like a sedan rather than a large SUV when doing “spirited” driving. However the electronic steering assist does not provide a lot of feedback to the driver giving it an artificial and vague feel that is not very engaging.
Comfort – While the Q5 is geared more towards sportiness, the interior has the upscale and luxury feel of its bigger brother, the Q7. The usual blend of leather and wood trim covers the seats and dashboard and a large panoramic roof makes the cabin feel larger and more spacious than it really is. Although it is smaller than a full size SUV, the Q5 comfortably seats 5 adults with enough space in the back for enough luggage for a weekend trip.
The Q5 has all of the usual gadgets and gizmos that one would expect from a German auto maker. The Multi Media Interface (MMI) system features a satellite navigation system, communication system, satellite radio, and an in-car entertainment system. The interface is fairly simple to use and the navigation system has a 3D layout of the terrain along with photo-realistic depictions of key landmarks.
Odds and Ends – In terms of styling, it looks a little bit bland compared to the other CUVs such as the Land Rover Evoque or even the Mazda CX-5. Richard Hammond famously said that Audi took the Q7 and photocopied it at 75% to make the Q5.
This “new” segment of the auto market is picking up a lot of steam as nearly all of the major auto manufacturers have at least 1 crossover vehicle in their lineup. As for Audi, the Q5 has a good blend of car-like driving dynamics with the comfort and safety of an SUV that will appeal to any young family looking for something a bit bigger than an average car but still fun enough to drive.
Thank you to Autoform Performance Inc. for providing the vehicle.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.