I’m not a huge fan of oversized, pricey SUVs. I find them a bit pointless really. And initially, I wasn’t particularly taken with the Audi Q5 either. My first impressions were very negative, I disliked its bulbous bonnet, I felt too far removed from the whole driving experience with its clever driver assist technology and I really couldn’t see the point of its existence – halfway between a Q3 (which is quite big enough for the school run in my opinion) and a Q7 (which is somehow just magnificent).
And then I fiddled with the Drive Select options. After switching from the Comfort drive mode that I received the car in and changing to the Dynamic mode, the Q5 livened up substantially and became much sportier. The Auto drive mode adapts the transmission, steering and suspension to match your driving style and I must admit this mode impressed me no end. Although the response through the wheel was still somewhat dulled, I began to see what attracts so many to coveting an Audi of this size.
First of all, it plays the popularity game by placing both driver and occupants fairly high above the crowd in traffic. South Africans love driving large vehicles with higher ground clearance for pavement hopping and the feeling of being able to look over the myriad of hatchbacks on our highways and byways. Then there’s the comfort factor. I haven’t yet immersed myself in the soft leather and sculpted seat of an Audi and not enjoyed the experience. The Q5 was no exception.
The Q5 still embodies a sense of spacious and luxurious style…
The Q5 still embodies a sense of spacious and luxurious style made to the usual high standard of comfort and quality that you can expect from Audi. Our model came upholstered in black leather with classy metallic inlays in the dash and along the doors. There is also a capacious luggage compartment to swallow all those school bags and the weekly shop.
Our test car came with a few interior extras including Bluetooth (N$6 000) and a very comprehensive and easy to use multimedia infotainment system incorporating satellite navigation (N$22 000) as well as park distance control (N$4 400). The latter we found to be set a little too high and it started panicking when there was still almost a meter of clearance from an obstacle. I turned it off most of the time.
Dual dials for climate control ensure that no fights will break out over the ambient temperature in the car. I was rather taken aback though by the very manual seat adjustment settings (automatic settings are an option (N$9 600) in the Q5) as this seemed so out of place with the mass of top class technology and sleek finishes of the Q5.
Driving this 2litre 165kW behemoth is an experience.
Driving this 2litre 165kW behemoth is an experience. Utilising technology that effectively builds an SUV on top of an A4 chassis, Audi somehow managed to marry the two rather successfully. You get a little more crossover for the odd adventure as a soft off-roader without the loss of luxury – an ideal that has massive appeal to many South Africans. The Q5 is surprisingly sporty given its bulk and the response when you put your foot down is prompt.
The 6-speed automatic Tiptronic gearbox is smooth and responsive – especially in Dynamic mode. And then there’s Audi’s astounding handbrake technology – it never ceases to amaze me how a tiny finger operated handbrake can hold a 2 ton vehicle on one of Cape Town’s hilly streets. Amazing! Consumption wise, we averaged 10l/100km (although the alleged consumption is 8.5l – 7.9l/100km) on very mixed driving.
Our Q5 came with 18 inch 5 spoke alloy wheels, Xenon headlights with LED lights in the rear and an eye-catching metallic ice silver paint job (N$3 400 extra). The standard price for the Audi Q5 is N$528 000 (ours was N$563 800 inclusive of the extras mentioned above). Included is a 5 year 100 000km maintenance plan with service intervals every 15 000km and a one year warranty.
After a week of admiring glances and comments from work colleagues and of travelling in comfort and some style, I’ll admit that I revised most but not all of negative opinions about the Q5. For the South African market at least, I can see its appeal (if not the point) and there’s no denying the fact that Audi have produced another quality vehicle for the large SUV crossover market. But I invite you to form your own opinion of the vehicle and go test out a Q5 for yourself!