Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
On the inside, you can look at the Q5 as an oversized A4, or an A4 with extra headroom and cargo space. The driver’s seat was fully adjustable with lumbar support and was comfortable in a German way. At first, we felt the front seats were too firm, but a long ride confirmed that these seats provided comfort for long journeys and worked well around town. The seats in the Q5 are relatively flat or un-bolstered, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as ingress and egress for larger people is much easier in the Q5 than many of its counterparts. The bolsters were only missed when it came to high speed cornering or pushing the Q5 through the twisties.
We really liked how the interior flowed. Audi even exchanged the orange-red gauge lights for something a little easier on the eye. One of the best things that Audi has done was to remove seldom used functions from the steering wheel by moving the cruise control to a third stalk on the steering column in addition to the turn signal and wiper stalks. This was clever as it cleans up the steering wheel with a better focus for the driver.
Ventilation is top notch and quiet for both heating a cooling as it has tri-space (driver, passenger, rear seat) controls. The heated seats were a welcome addition in the winter and are also ventilated for warmer climates.
By far the number one item inside was the Bang and Olufsen sound system. This is an $850 option but I have yet to hear a factory sound system like this. It was complete with surround sound and was like sitting in the front row of a concert hall. This was something that we will all remember the Q5 for and must be heard to be believed.
Compartments – or lack thereof – were a downside for the Q5. Much of the center console is consumed by buttons and controls which would normally be on the vertical part of the center dash, but Audi decided to place many of them just behind the shifter. This limits the amount of items that can be stored between the passenger and driver.
Our test car came with the $4200 luxury option, which provided us with a large two-panel Panorama sunroof. Audi uses a fabric sunshade that is semi transparent and it will be interesting to see how the car does during the summer months when trying to block out sunlight and heat.
Let’s begin by stating that this small sport utility has a hefty curb weight of 4,090 pounds. Now this is nice once you get going on the freeway, but it affects all other things like braking, acceleration, and cornering. The turbocharged direct injected and intercooled engine has 211 HP and pulls well throughout the power band. Audi has done a great job extracting all of the power out of this workhorse engine, even at low revs. Maximum torque of 258 lbs.-ft. is available at 1500 RPMs
Braking is also admirable and can be attributed to a large set of rotors in combination with sporty wheels and tires that haul the car down from speed quickly. The 2.0T engine is mated to an 8-speed Tiptronic® automatic transmission with sport and manual shift programs. The 3.2L V6 models get the 6-speed Tiptronic gearbox. Manual shifting is essentially useless since nobody can go through that many gears as flawlessly as a computer, so our testers just left the car in “drive” or full automatic mode.
The fuel economy is claimed to be 22 in the city and 27 on the highway. With very tame driving one can manage to average about 23-24 MPG in combined driving. At 70 MPH fuel economy is closer to 30 MPG than 27. When we drove the car with a little more performance in mind, the average quickly dropped to 17 MPG, so mileage tends to be a little deceiving.
The Q5 is not a pushover when called upon to be agile, it has all the underpinnings of an A4 and sits on large 18 inch Dunlops, giving it the ability to master the turns with great grip and finesse. This is where the Q5 really shines; it’s probably the best handling sport utility vehicle I have been in. It can also make for some carsick passengers, since one tends to push the Q5 on the back roads more than the usual wagon or sport-ute. Handling is neutral at speed and the only drawback is in slower turns, where the power steering doesn’t really react quickly enough for some transitions, but this will only affect a fairly small group of drivers. If Audi could trim 500 pounds off of the Q5, the performance would be almost Porsche-like….a tall S4 perhaps?
Audi has done a nice job with the exterior of the Q5; it looks sporty but not overly flashy. Some women have commented that they don’t like Audi’s large front grill, but the rest of the exterior is great. Inside Audi has modernized the interior and used a lot less wood accents and more aluminum accents to dress it up. Everyone was impressed by the large double-panel sunroof and thought the fabric cover was a new idea. Our test car was white, which is probably one of the better colors to offset the grill and show off the profile. The lines to the rear quarter windows were attractive, but did limit outward visibility during lane changes.
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