JOHANNESBURG - The heavy rain around Gauteng in early December gave me an awesome opportunity to get on the road and test the capabilities of the all-wheel-drive Audi Q5 40 TDI Sport I’m using as a daily driver.

Stop and go

I hit the road north, taking the M1 from the city, heading toward a break in the storm. I figured let’s head toward the N4, and then loop around through Rosslyn to stop and say hello at some of the car plants out there. The storm didn’t break, and it rained all the way from the Johannesburg CBD to Rosslyn on the outskirts of Pretoria. 

It was stop and go the whole way, apart from a small break to get up to around 110km/h once we’d passed the Centurion area along the N1. In the dense traffic the Q5 showed off its excellent low-speed cruising ability, capable of picking the right gear for any instance. It’s fitted with a 7- speed S-tronic transmission, sending power through the quattro drivetrain. 

I kept the vehicle in Comfort mode in the Audi Drive Select system for most instances, and it remained the same for most of this 300km drive. The Comfort setting provides a more relaxed accelerator pedal setting and it softens the steering enough to mask the fact that you’re turning a 1.7-ton vehicle.

On part throttle, at around 100km/h, the instantaneous fuel consumption read-out said it was sipping 50ppm at a rate of 4.5l/100km, impressive considering the wet road and the slightly windy conditions near Pretoria. At the end of this 300km loop, the car would give me an average consumption figure of 6.5l/100km.

Apart from its frugal, smooth-driving nature and characteristics in the challenging weather conditions, it really impressed when it came to braking. A few times, I had to climb on the anchors as adjacent vehicles dived into my following distance without indicating. The Q5 seemed to do what the BMWs do when you quickly come off the accelerator, in that the brake pads are already primed and brought as close as possible to the disc so that when you hit the stop-pedal it brakes with maximum brake pressure and intent.

It’s still easy to modulate, but you get this really confident feeling in the leg and foot that you can stop the car or at least brake and avoid an obstacle without losing composure.

Overall then, to drive during a storm, the Q5 is as solid as you can get at this level in the SUV segment. It feels honed, like as though it was made out of one piece of stone, chiselled to give you a tight package that just does what you want it to.

Could be nicer inside

One of the only things that I find disappointing in the Q5 I’m driving is its out-dated multimedia system. There’s no Apple Carplay or Android Auto support, and the USB port that’s in the centre console is only there to charge devices. You can only connect your smartphone using Bluetooth, for calls and audio streaming. It’s simple and effective, but after experiencing the latest MMI system in the new Audi Q3, I can’t help but feel the dated-ness coming through strong here.

Nevertheless, the audio that comes out of the speakers is extremely satisfying for a non-premium system. There’s no Bang & Olufsen in this car, just the standard system, and it’s crisp, loud enough and provides great sound-staging if you enjoy listening to live music or Podcasts while you drive.

Another nifty touch in this car is the optional wireless charger tray that slides over the cupholders or under the armrest. You can chuck a compatible iPhone, Huawei or Samsung on the plate and it will magically suck in the joules.

As standard, the Q5 40 TDI Sport is appointed quite nicely. If you opt for an Offroad Edition you’ll get 19-inch wheels as standard, as well as an upgrade from Xenon headlamps to LED headlamps. You also get LED rear lamps and a cool light signature for the indicator that cascades in a similar manner to more expensive Audis. 

Overall, it’s well built and you feel a sense of quality in the materials. 

Can we achieve sub-5l/100km?

So, Audi’s spec sheet says that this Q5 will sip less than 5l/100km in a combined cycle, which we plan on putting to the test in the next few weeks on a 2000km road trip around South Africa.

You can follow my drive by following the hashtag #Drive360 on Instagram. And, if you’d like to learn more about this car’s features and quirks, you can watch our full walk-through video on the IOL Motoring website.

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