Johannesburg - The second-generation Audi Q5, launched in South Africa this week, is in many ways a microcosm of the challenges facing the motor industry in the second decade of the new millennium.
At 4660mm long, 1890mm wide and 1660mm tall on a 2820mm wheelbase, it is bigger in nearly every dimension than its predecessor because the market demands it; customers want to know they are getting ‘more car for their money’.
It’s bigger inside too; even with the back seat in its rearmost position the cargo bay will swallow 550 litres (10 litres more than the previous Q5) of retail therapy, and with it folded, capacity expands tardis-like to 1550 litres.
Nevertheless, it is also, depending on the engine, up to 90kg lighter - thanks to clever usage of ever-greater percentages of expensive aluminium and high-strength steels, to meet the fuel-efficiency statutes of regulators and clean air authorities around the world.
Five models to choose from
Audi’s new mid-sized SUV arrives in South Africa in a five-strong range comprising two trim levels, with a choice of two-litre diesel or petrol power, as well as the range-topping SQ5 with 260kW of three-litre V6 turbopetrol motorvation.
The two-litre TFSI turbopetrol, rated for 185kW and 370Nm, and the TDI turbodiesel (140kW and 400Nm, on tap from 1750-3000rpm) are each mated to a paddle-shift S tronic automatic transmission with a fuel-saving freewheel function and Audi’s new quattro-on-demand ultra final drive. The system uses 150 sensors to monitor the route, driver and driving status - predicting whether and when one or both of the front wheels will begin to lose traction and bringing in the rear axle ahead of time to transfer up to 100 percent of drive to the rear wheels as needed.
A new electromechanical power steering system is standard, and buyers can opt for Audi's variable-ratio 'Dynamic' steering. The new Q5 rides on five-link suspension all round, with either steel springs and selectable damper control through up to seven modes, or adaptive air suspension that adds the ability to vary the ride height through five stages.
Inside, the optional virtual cockpit displays the instrumentation on a 31cm screen in your choice of classic mode, with two large round dials for speed and revs, or a digital mode where the navigation map or lists dominate.
The MMI operating logic is based on the flat hierarchies used in smartphones, bringing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into the new Q5, along with a phone box that not only wirelessly connects your phone to the car’s system, but also charges it inductively at the same time.
Q5 range and features
The base Q5, in either petrol or diesel format, is trimmed in a mix of genuine real and artificial leather, with 17-inch wheels, an ambient lighting package with 30 colours, drive select, three-zone automatic air-conditioning, cruise control, pre-sense city with pedestrian alert and automatic emergency braking, dynamic suspension, tyre pressure monitoring, rear parking sensors and display, a leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel, and a stainless steel scuff plate on the tailgate sill.
The Sport trim spec adds 18 inch rims, aluminium door-sill trims, full body colour bumpers, high gloss exterior trim and aluminium interior trim inlays, LED headlights, sports seats and a chrome-trimmed steering wheel.
Options for either model include adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, active lane assist, distance warning alert, cross traffic assist rear, exit warning, collision avoidance assist and turn assist.
SQ5: The Big Brother
The big brother of the Q5 family boasts a 2995cc V6 TFSI with a twin-scroll turbocharger (replacing the the mechanical compressor of the previous engine) nestled in the 90 degree V between the cylinder banks.
It’s rated for 260kW and 500Nm from 1370-4500rpm and it’ll take the SQ5 from a standstill to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds, with terminal velocity electronically governed to 250 km/h.
Unlike its two-litre sisters, the eight-speed tiptronic transmission feeds drive to a traditional quattro permanent all-wheel drive layout, with a slight rear-axle bias as its default mode. Torque control gently brakes the inside wheels in hard cornering to negate understeer, while the optional sports rear differential literally pushes the car into a curve, and sends more drive to the outside rear wheel when accelerating out of tight corners.
With the standard steel springs, continuous damping control settings are integrated into the drive select system along with the engine, steering, tiptronic and optional sport differential. The optional S-specific adaptive air suspension also lets you adjust ride according to the driving situation.
What you get in the SQ5
Standard trim, in the SQ5, includes 20 inch alloys, a roof spoiler, LED lighting all round, illuminated door sills with S logos, power-adjustable sports front seats with four-way lumbar support in a mix of leather and alcantara synthetic suede with contrast stitching (nappa leather in a diamond pattern with a pneumatic function is an option), a flat-bottom sports steering wheel, aluminium-look shift paddles, stainless-steel pedals and navigation plus with Audi connect.
|Q5 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic||R698 000|
|Q5 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic Sport||R748 000|
|Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic||R747 500|
|Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic Sport||R797 500|
|SQ5 3.0 TFSI quattro Tiptronic||R1 044 000|
Q5 VERSUS THE ALTERNATIVES
|Volvo XC60 D4 Momentum||140kW/400Nm||R642 056|
|BMW X3 xDrive20d||140kW/400Nm||R660 826|
|Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic||140kW/400Nm||R698 000|
|Mercedes-Benz GLC250d 4Matic||150kW/500Nm||R699 122|
|Lexus NX200t EX||175kW/350Nm||R677 300|
|BMW X3 xDrive28i||180kW/400Nm||R737 888|
|Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic||180kW/370Nm||R742 198|
|Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic||185kW/370Nm||R747 500|
|Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic||270kW/520Nm||R969 406|
|Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI quattro Tiptronic||260kW/500Nm||R1 044 000|
|Jaguar F-Pace 35t AWD R-Sport||250kW/450Nm||R1 115 246|
|Porsche Macan S||250kW/460Nm||R1 122 000|
WATCH THE Q5 AND SQ5 IN ACTION