Review: 2009 Audi Q5
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2013.
By James Tate of MSN Autos
The toughest segment manufacturers can waltz into right now is probably the “compact luxury crossover” class — in English, these are small SUVs built on a car chassis. Think of the paradoxical demands they must meet: luxurious but sporting, capable off-road but pleasant on the highway. They must get decent gas mileage but tow trailers, and they should be able to carry tons of stuff, but still be small. Yet with handsome looks, a slick interior and sedan-like handling, the Audi Q5 may be the best balance yet.
The quickest way to do so is to choose two optional trim packages. The first gets you a power tailgate, bi-xenon headlights and LED taillights, while the second package includes Audi’s smart key system, blind spot detection, and a 14-speaker, 504-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo. This second package also includes 19-inch wheels, but 20-inch S-Line wheels, as well as (brace yourself) 20-inch chromed wheels will also be available as stand-alone options.
Other notable options include the largest panoramic sunroof in the class, adaptive cruise control, ventilated front seats and a climate-controlled cupholder. Also available is Audi’s new Drive Select, which alters suspension stiffness, steering and throttle response, and shift algorithms with the push of a button. There are three settings: comfort, dynamic and auto. If you opt for Audi’s MMI (multi-media interface), there’s the option to create your own setting by fine-tuning each aspect on screen.
Under the Hood
There’s good reason to hold your breath, however, since Audi says America will get a second engine offering in 2010 models. If you want our guess, it’ll be the rocket ship 3.0-liter twin-turbo diesel V6, which by then will be available in U.S.-bound Q7s. Expect the diesel’s EPA fuel ratings to be somewhere in the mid-20s around town and over 30 on the highway.
U.S.-spec Q5s will arrive with a sole transmission option (6-speed automatic), which is teamed with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive setup. The combination is said to propel the Q5 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, and S-Line models will have steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Q5s will only be available with leather seating. The front buckets hold the driver comfortably in place during spirited driving, and the rear seats can be laid flat right from the cargo area, providing just over 55 cubic-feet of storage capacity.
Audi’s MMI is much improved in the Q5, and we’d suggest ticking the option box. Gone are full-screen windows noting simple adjustments, replaced by a much more intuitive interface that uses momentary pop-ups. Similar to the navigation display in the Infiniti EX35, 3D buildings are now displayed where available.
On the Road
Push too hard and Audi’s stability control system (ESP) intervenes seamlessly, helping to aim the Q5 in the right direction. On active steering-equipped models, the ESP setup will actually make perceptible steering adjustments to help avoid disaster.
The capable V6 is a good match for the impressive handling, but, because most of its punch comes at higher rpm, a couple toggles of the paddle shifter are often necessary for quick passing. At the end of the day it’s satisfying, but you can’t help but lust after the torquey European diesel offerings.
At the same time, the Q5 has 7.87 inches of ground clearance, 25-degree approach and departure angles, and can tow 4,409 pounds. The ABS system can even automatically detect if you’re driving on sand, gravel or stone and adjust accordingly. It’s almost sad that the closest thing to off-roading most Q5s will see in America is a scenic overlook.
Right for You?
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side asSenior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.