Without question one of the highlights of the Q5 is its exterior styling. Audi took Volkswagen Rabbit, an A4 and a Q7, threw them into a style blender and came out with the Q5. It’s proportions are perfect; broad, tall, aggressive shoulders, a low slung top and 19-inch wheels make the Q5 look as sporty as it drives. Like all other Audi offerings, the Q5 sports the dominant grille with four interlocking rings and air splitters which pay homage to the Auto Union Silver Arrow Grand Prix race cars of the 1930s.
And of course, with it’s innovative LED lighting system with front lights which resemble illuminated eyebrows, the Q5 can never be mistaken at night for another marque.
But the technology doesn’t end there. One of the more innovative features of the Q5 is it’s electronically aided roof rack, which senses when load is placed on the bars, and communicates with the electronic stability control system to adjust handling parameters in relation to the vehicle’s change in center of gravity. Remember Aunt Edna on the roof of the Family Truckster? Clark could have benefited from this kind of technology.
Yes, we listed the Q5′s interior as a ding, but don’t misunderstand why. First and foremost, on our list, an interior must be laid out in an intuitive way so that the second you enter the cockpit, you know where everything is and can start turning dials and pushing buttons with authority. In this regard, the Audi passes with stellar marks. Everything is where it should be, and Audi engineers didn’t employ any unwanted whiz-bang gadgetry that results in head scratching and fulminant frustration. The only niggle we have with the instrument cluster was the manual gear indicator buried at the bottom center of the info display under the odometer. It was hard to see even for someone with perfect vision.
The Q5 also succeeds as a luxurious interior. Like most German interiors, the materials in the Q5 are of the finest quality and make you feel a slight tinge of unworthiness. Perhaps it’s the reason why the Q5 sports such a massive moonroof; so you can more easily profess said unworthiness to your deity of choice.
But despite the copious light brought in by the moonroof, like most Audi interiors, the Q5 lacks a certain warmth; a certain welcoming element. It all just seems a bit too rigid. Too stiff. Too cold. Too, dare we say, German? It almost felt as if we needed to put on a pair of wire-rimmed bifocals, suck in our cheeks and sit as if our bodies were overcome with rigor mortis. But maybe it’s just us.
Aside from the somewhat unwelcoming feel, as was mentioned, the Q5 interior covers the most important check-boxes: intuitive instrument cluster layout, easy-to-use navigation controls, terrific visibility from all angles and copious headroom and legroom for four passengers. But if you find yourself as passenger number five, if you haven’t already acquired a taste for your own kneecaps, get ready. Unless you’re a toddler or are a double amputee, the rear middle seat is useless. We’re assuming the 5 in Q5 isn’t in reference to the ability to hold 5 passengers, because if it is, they need to rename it to Q4.5.
Cargo space is on the small side at 29 cubic feet with the rear seats up, but the rear seats slide fore and aft, and when folded, allowing for 5 extra inches in cargo length, bringing total interior cargo capacity with rear seats down to 57 cubic feet.
Like most lower-to-mid priced German luxury vehicles, depending on how you option it, the Q5 can either be a great value or a complete savings account vacuum. Q5 pricing starts at $37,350, which is quite a bargain for what you get. But our tester was equipped with the $11K Prestige Package (aka Comstock Loaded) and ADS, which is another $3K. All said and done, our tester would put nearly a $53K hurt on the wallet. Quite spendy for a so-called family vehicle with hardly enough room for 5 adults.
Who Should Buy It?
Well, according to a recent AutoWeek interview with Audi of America President, Johan de Nysschen, the typical Audi buyers “are dynamic achievers, but they have an enormous sense of self-worth and confidence – without being taken with themselves. They don’t need so much of the external reinforcement that other cars might give them. An Audi reinforces that in them. We are luxurious. We are progressive, but we do it in an understated way.”
Do you match this description? Do you want something smaller than an SUV but more stylish than a station wagon? Do you only required a maximum capacity of 4.5 humans? Then you should buy the Q5.
2009 marks the 100th anniversary of Audi’s founding. Although the brand went dark for over 30 years, it has always focused on progress through innovative technology. And within the last ten years, Audi has really seemed to find its stride. Worldwide sales are growing, reliability is improving, and Audis are appealing to a distinct consumer who seeks a blend of performance, luxury and style at a pricepoint below its German counterparts.
With the introduction of the Q5 in 2009, Audi set out on the mission to provide consumers every positive attribute of owning a smaller, more sensible SUV while still retaining the positives of a full-size SUV. The attractive, stylish exterior design makes up for the cold shortcomings of the interior, and the combination of nimble handling paired with Audi’s Quattro system make the Q5 an exceptionally well-rounded crossover vehicle. The only potential improvement we can see is Audi’s addition of a 2.0T option to make the Q5 even more well-rounded with a lower entry pricepoint. And how about a special edition with wood paneling? Give those Audi designers a real challenge and see if they can pull it off.
|The official Audi of America website – www.audiusa.com|
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