Audi is rapidly establishing itself as the premier SUV brand in a this popular segment, and the latest Q5 is nothing short of breath-taking, smashing its competition back to the drawing board in one fell swoop.
The 3.0TDI has a whooping 180kW/580Nm at its disposal and remains the range-topper, packing quite a punch with a searing 0-100 km/h time of just under seven seconds, nearly a second faster than last year’s model - giving you sports car performance. It’s everything you’d expect from an Audi, which has arguably become the leader of the pack over the last five years.
This particular road test was started in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in the heart of Pretoria, a welcome oasis from the concrete jungle that is the greater Gauteng area. The Q5 is very comfortable on gravel roads, whilst the high riding position and elongated sunroof make for formidable game driving vehicle.
The power is responsive, with the legendary Quattro all wheel drive system proving itself as the ideal traction system in moderate conditions. However, it must be said that when the Q5 hit a patch of mud she felt a touch squirrely, and I really had to get the power down to ensure safe passage. That’s the difference between a Land Rover and anything else that attempts to present itself as an off-road contender. Granted 99 % of the people driving the new Q5 will never see a mud laden gravel road and will be just fine mounting the pavement on a Saturday morning.
Luckily the Q5 turned out to be more than a match for the majority of the rough roads of Rietvlei, which is a good thing as the resident Rhinos started to take an interest in the German thoroughbred.
The interior is tastefully decked out, without trying too hard. It’s good clean Audi, no more, no less. The sound system is fantastic, whilst there’s plenty of room to fit in the family and the golf clubs in rear.
On road it’s sublime, with terrific handling and acceleration. The Q5’s also friendlier on the environment than previous models, boasting a 15 % improvement in efficiency. You’re able to cruise at 120 km/h with the three little diesel engine hardly getting out of an idle at under 2 000 rpm. So you can go from being a boy racer in a hot SUV to Miss Daisy, it’s all up to you in the new Q5.
If one had to nit-pick, the indicator was a touch irritating and was difficult to change its direction once selected at times. It astounds me that little things like that creep through the cracks in an otherwise near faultless car.
On the flip side, this particular Audi is a beauty to behold and can get away with irritating quirks all the way to a top speed way beyond the limit in South Africa.
At a touch over 700k for the top of the range diesel there’s not much else out there that can touch it on all around appeal, from the handling, sophistication through to the pulsating performance. Having driven the Q5 I’d question why anybody would need to buy the enormous Q7 unless they had a soccer team to fit in or where trying to make up for something.