Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

A Teutonic treat: Audi Q5 Driving impressions

Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are a dime a dozen in South Africa at the moment. Just about every brand offers one, or more, so when it comes to choosing one it pretty much boils down to personal preference and budget. Liana Reiners has a soft spot for Audi’s Q5 and explains why.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but after three decades as a motoring journalist I’ve become a bit of a car snob. Granted, there are a great number of affordable, attractive and competent vehicles out there, but at my age one appreciates and yearns for the finer, more luxurious (and obviously more expensive) things in life. Electric windows, leather seats, a high-end sound system, premium finishes, plenty of driver aids, comfort features galore, a comfortable ride and good performance… these are the things my middle-aged dreams are made of. As such, I have an affinity for German cars because – let’s be honest – nobody does premium better than the Germans.

Audi is a case in point. I have yet to drive an Audi that I didn’t like. They’re always elegant, beautifully crafted and with an understated yet distinctive character that sets them apart from the crowd. Its Q5 is no different and has been a favourite in the premium mid-size segment across the world for many years. In the third quarter of 2021 a better and even more attractive version arrived in South Africa. Think sporty character combined with everyday usability and practicality and you’ll have an inkling of what the upgraded Q5 is all about. I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days with the Q5 40 TDI quattro and I enjoyed every minute!

Hey good-looking

There’s no denying that this is a very attractive vehicle in anyone’s book. From a design perspective, the Audi Q identity – as seen on the Q2, Q3, Q7 and Q8 – is unmistakable, with the main features being sharper lines and an octagonal singleframe grille. On the Q5 the latter is shallower and wider than before, while the side air intakes have grown in height and are now structured by trapezoidal insets. The upper section of the LED headlamps features a new signature for the daytime running lights (DRLs).

Viewed from the side, the Q5 has greater ground clearance, thanks to the redesigned sill insert. At the rear end is a new trim element between the light clusters and a new diffuser insert with a horizontal fin.

One can’t help but appreciate the elegant looks of the Q5. It’s attractive in an understated but thoroughly modern way. If it were a person, it would be a confident businessman in a trendy but classy designer suit.

A touch of class

The cabin of the Q5 is an altogether great place to be. The seats are comfortable (electrically adjustable, of course) and there’s leg- and headroom aplenty, both front and rear. I could go on… and on… and on about how great the interior is, but that would fill up the entire magazine. Instead, let me just say that you will want for almost nothing in terms of mod cons. In addition, all controls are intuitively placed and easy to operate so you’ll spend less time fiddling and more time focusing on the road.

Speaking of focus, the focal point on the dashboard of the Q5 is a freestanding 10.1-inch MMI touch display. From here you can access the navigation system, audio settings, and the smartphone interface. Its menu structure with flat hierarchies makes it user-friendly, even for technologically challenged people like me, and is searchable using free text. The driver has the choice of entering characters and letters manually or via voice control, which understands a vast array of everyday terms. Of course, there are satellite controls on the steering wheel too.

A power trip

The Audi Q5 is available in South Africa with two engine options. The version I had on test uses a powerful 2-litre four-cylinder diesel unit that generates 140kW and 400Nm of peak torque. I had the opportunity to stretch its legs on the N4 between Pretoria and Rayton and believe me when I say that it’s no slouch. You’re not going to set a new land-speed record, but you certainly won’t be left behind either. It accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds and uses approximately 6.2 litres of fuel/100km. Not bad for a vehicle of this size.

When I was younger, I used think that automatic transmissions appealed to older and lazier people only. Admittedly auto gearboxes have come a long way since then and I’m not ashamed to admit that nowadays manual gear changing isn’t as much fun as it used to be. I really do appreciate a good auto when I drive one and the Q5 didn’t disappoint.

A seven-speed S Tronic gearbox is standard and sends the engine power to the quattro all-wheel drive with ultratechnology. In normal operation, it sends all the power to the front wheels, but if all-wheel drive becomes necessary – say in slippery conditions or during dynamic driving – two clutches connect the rear wheels to the driveline in fractions of a second. So, in terms of traction and performance, the system leaves nothing to be desired.

Its well-balanced running gear is one of the Q5’s strengths. The multilink suspension front and rear are exceptionally lightweight, thus improving not only handling, but also efficiency. And have I mentioned how comfortable the ride is?

Audi’s Drive Select handling system, which influences the characteristics of several technical components, is part of the standard equipment package of the Q5.

The verdict

I thought long and hard about this, but I couldn’t find anything to complain about with the Q5. It’s attractive, comfortable, competent, well appointed and really great to drive. Shut up and take my money!

Model line -up and pricing

  • Q5 40 TDI quattro: R852 000
  • Q5 40 TDI quattro Advanced: R871 000
  • Q5 40 TDI quattro S line: R897 000
  • Q5 45 TFSI quattro S line: R947 000
  • SQ5 TFSI quattro: R1 208 000

*All Audi Q5 models come standard with a 5-year Audi Freeway Plan.

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