Driven - August 2017

We drive the new Audi Q5 & SQ5

New Audi Q5 & SQ5 Driven

I realise that I speak a lot about Sci-fi here but it’s for good reason. In my opinion, Sci-fi and in specific, its movies, give us snippets as to how life will be in the not too distant future. If you have watched the movie iRobot, you will know what I’m talking about. You see, in this movie, the hero (real life hero to yours truly) drives the fanciest Audi that drives itself, has a brain of its own and makes you want to jump thirty years into the future to sample the latest and greatest. The all-new Audi Q5 is a snippet of that future. An evolution rather than revolution in terms of design, this vehicle brings the latest in tech and design to Audi’s midsize SUV.

Audi Q5

When we landed in Cape Town, we were greeted by the typical June weather with a hint of sun here and there. After a short while at Cape Town International Airport, we headed for the picturesque Gansbaai in the Western Cape. The first vehicle we were acquainted with was the Q5 2.0 TFSI, producing 185 kW and 370 N.m from its petrol motor it seemed very eager to show off its new-found muscle from the Vorsprung gym. The cabin is nothing short of “Audi Spec” and showcases Audi’s continued strides in terms of build quality and materials used. Its simply sublime.

Enquire about the new Audi Q5 and book a test drive at Audi Centurion here!

Audi Q5

Carving our way through a grey and drizzle soaked Cape, as passenger, I decided to start playing with all the new toys and gimmicks. The new MMI system, still a bit confusing with the trackpad, makes the iRobot dream come alive-ish. What I keep on going on about is the cabin and the quality thereof. There is no doubt that you feel like you have achieved in life, surrounded by this well-kept launch spec cabin. The extras adorned on the TFSI model were many, but not enough to warrant a second mortgage on your home.

Audi Q5

The navigation system, which is married to the virtual cockpit, makes you fall in love. The directions are shown to you at binnacle height and the LED display is crisp, clear and doesn’t tire the eyes. I would have liked a change in colour scheme to suit the different driving modes, being Eco, Normal, Dynamic and Individual. Yes, I’m that guy!

Audi Q5

Halfway to the overnight destination, I found myself in the driver’s seat of the 2.0 TDI variant with 140 kW and a very healthy wave of torque to the tune of 400 N.m. Pair this to the famous Franschoek Pass and it makes for an entertaining drive. Steering, although too light for my taste, provides good communication as to what inputs the front axle needs when you first start throwing the Audi Q5 from apex to apex. The steering rack does feel very quick but you soon learn to modulate your inputs to place the vehicle where you want. To be very honest, this vehicle will never, with it’s natural driver such as the interior designer from Sandton or the Private Wealth Manager from Investec, throw it from mid S bend to apex like I did, but we needed to see what this new Quattro system is all about. This has changed considerably from the old system. While the old system was configured to be on the whole time, this system goes with the less is more option. What the new system does, called “Quattro on Demand”, is de-couple the rear axle when not in need and within 200 milliseconds, full Quattro can be activated which will give the familiar on rails feeling of yesteryear. Lean on the chassis and yes, it will understeer, as Audi have built this vehicle for the discerning driver and not for the “extract every split second” racing driver. We got to our overnight hotel, the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, and the Q5 was well at home on the make shift rally circuit being the odd four kilometers of gravel, stones and mud. The vehicle felt very sure footed at speeds that would make the late Colin McRae proud and my co-driver sick to the stomach.

Audi SQ5

The next morning, nursing a post 30’s red wine headache courtesy of the kind Audi staff, I was let loose in the range topping SQ5. This vehicle is definitely built for the sportier wealth manager and thankfully, this variant sports a mighty 3.0 V6 TFSI Turbo petrol motor. The reason for Audi SA’s decision is simple. There is currently no diesel version of this vehicle so the Petrol will have to do. From start up, the silky-smooth motor, delivering 260 kW and 500 N.m, makes itself known and purrs away beckoning to be let loose through the rev range. The make shift rally track, now done in reverse direction, gave insight to the new dynamic direction that Audi is focused on. An oversteering Audi? Surely that wine wasn’t that good? It wasn’t, and the new steering from the rear was from the reworked Quattro System. See, for the SQ5, the Quattro is not the same but rather has a rear bias under normal driving and when driven enthusiastically, will call in the help of the front axle and even braking the inside wheels due to some clever electronic wizardry. Turn in is crisp, body roll is at a minimum and ride comfort is sublime thanks to the 45 profile tyres. This seems like a car to drop the kids off and take the back routes to work just for the sake of driving those few extra kilometers.

I handed over the SQ5 to my co-driver very reluctantly, and had to play DJ. This wasn’t the worst job to have as this SQ5 had the optional Bang & Olufsen sound system among some of the toys already mentioned.

Overall, the New Audi Q5 is a force to be reckoned with. Yes, its styling might not be wild or as provocative as we would have liked but look at the whole package and you can forgive the “facelift” appearance. The SQ5 left an impression on me though, and I would love to see what it will do against its natural rivals, the Mercedes GLC 43 and the upcoming BMW X3 M40i. The school run King. Who will take the crown? Bring on the Sci-Fi future.

Audi Q5 Pricing in South Africa

Q5 2.0 TDI Quattro S Tronic: R698,000

Q5 2.0 TDI Quattro S Tronic Sport: R748,000

Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro S Tronic: R747,500

Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro S Tronic Sport: R797,500

SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Tiptronic: R1,044,000

 

Enquire about the new Audi Q5 and book a test drive at Audi Centurion here!