Driving Notes

Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila

MUCH fanfare has surrounded the enthroning of the Q8 as Audi’s preeminent SUV. Supplanting the Q7, the mid-size Q8 is imagined by the Ingolstadt-based premium car maker as “[uniting] the elegance of a four-door luxury coupe with the practical versatility of a large SUV than can be used for both business and leisure.”
Perhaps lost in the powerplay between the two perfectly executed vehicles is the Q5. The approximate midpoint in heft for Audi may not hold the limelight or command center-stage importance, but I sincerely believe it behooves car buyers to take an earnest look at it if they’re perusing the price point. Consumer Reports concurs that it is “one of the best choices among compact luxury SUVs.”
Additionally, Kelley Blue Book, the California-based auto valuation and research company, gave the Q5 the Luxury SUV Best Buy award last year, and its inaugural 2019 Compact Luxury SUV Best Buy plum — a unanimous first pick in the latter.
• The Q5 is blessed with an exterior profile and sheet work that exude confidence in a businesslike manner. It doesn’t struggle to get your attention; it just does. The four rings seated on the trapezoidal grille are pretty much you need. Flanked on both ends by smart-looking headlamp assemblies marked by DRLs (and we know that Audi helped pioneer this safety innovation), the front fascia is just an eyeful without it being gaudy.
• From the side, the Q5’s character line extends seamlessly from headlamp to tail lamp, passing above the door handles. A crimp on the lower part of the doors imbues a sexy, dynamic characteristic.
• It would also please buyers to know that the Q5 has been awarded five stars in the Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Program), which ranks it among the safest in its class in terms of occupant protection, child safety, pedestrian protection, driver-assistance systems, and crash safety. It also garners five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the US.
• The cabin is spacious and comfortably appointed — again, without going overboard. It’s sometimes easy to be overwhelmed with a panoply of buttons, switches, and whatnot. Audi has made the Q5 very legible and intuitive.
• Invariably, the driver will be captivated by Audi’s amazing Virtual Cockpit. A large 12.3-inch LCD screen supplants traditional analog instrumentation. The driver can access a number of indicators (and views) using buttons on the multi-function steering wheel. A classic view reproduces an analog tachometer and speedometer, latency-free; Infotainment Mode reduces the size of these gauges to accommodate a navigation map, telephone information, radio, or audio list.
• A large MMI terminal lends itself as the main control interface, linked to the 8.3-inch fixed display, situated ideally to be just out of the windshield view. A touchpad with haptic feedback, first seen in the Q7, is complemented by a rotary pushbutton. The driver can use this pad to input “handwritten” entries and other gestures.
• A torque-rich 2.0-liter TDI engine blurts out 190hp and 400Nm, and pairs to a seven-speed automatic transmission which you can choose to override with the shift paddles behind the steering wheel. I observed a fuel economy figure in the neighborhood of 15 kilometers per liter in light to normal traffic. The system up-shifts below 2,000rpm during normal duty, which proves to be a fuel-saving move. But not to worry, there is much torque (and driving fun) to be had even below this rev mark. Audi’s proprietary quattro-brand all-wheel drive promises better steering and acceleration poise, while a new start-stop system seamlessly switches off the engine during coasting to aid fuel economy. An auto-hold function, which engages the brakes when the car is stationary, is especially useful when on inclines. Never be antsy about them again.

• I may be nitpicking (or lazy) here, but I expected powered steering-wheel adjustment.
• Executive SUV, thy name is Q5.

Bluffer’s Box

Audi Q5 2.0 TDI
Price: Available upon request
Engine: 2.0-liter, inline four turbocharged diesel with common rail injection and exhaust gas recirculation; 150 hp @ 4,200 rpm, 320 Nm @ 1,500 — 3,250 rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed S-Tronic
Drivetrain: All-wheel drive (quattro)
Wheels/Tires: 18 inches, 235/60
Key features: Audi Drive Select, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, adaptive air suspension, ambient lighting, powered tailgate, Audi Virtual Cockpit, touchpad, multifunction steering wheel, Bang & Olufsen Sound System with 3D sound.