2014 Audi Q5 TDI Quattro TiptronicPosted on October 3rd, 2013 1 comment
Clean diesel technology means fewer stops at the fuel pump
By Nina Russin
I’m sitting behind the wheel of the Audi Q5 TDI five-passenger crossover, having logged about 80 miles on the vehicle. The fuel gauge needle has yet to move off full. Had I been writing this ten year’s ago or driving a different car, I would assume that there was a problem with the ground on the gas tank, causing the needle to give an inaccurate reading.
But knowing Audi’s almost magical ability to extend fuel economy with clean diesel technology, I understand that the reading is correct. The EPA estimated 31 miles-per-gallon on the highway is if anything, conservative.
The TDI model is new for the Q5 this year, expanding a line-up that already includes gasoline-powered cars and a hybrid. A S-line variant, also new for 2014, adds a supercharged 354-horsepower V-6 engine that propels the car from zero-to-sixty is just over five seconds.
Standard convenience features include a panoramic sunroof, three-zone climate control, heated eight-way power front seats, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth interface.
Base price on the test car is $46,500 excluding the $895 destination charge. An option package adds navigation and Audi connect that turns the car into a mobile hotspot. Final MSRP is $51,445.
Diesel that doesn’t compromise
Despite the fact that clean diesel vehicles have been in the US market for several years, Americans remain wary. Two things have changed since the influx of diesel cars in the late 1970s and 1980s, both of which impact performance and fuel economy.
The first is onboard computers that have resulted in more accurate calibration and enable the systems to operate at much higher fuel pressures. Because of this, diesel cars no longer have the annoying lag that once characterized them.
The second is low-sulfur fuel that is compatible with more sophisticated exhaust systems. In fact clean diesel produces a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline because the exhaust contains less carbon dioxide.
The only remaining downside is the fluctuating price of diesel fuel, which is still higher than gasoline. However since diesel offers drivers a 25-30 percent boost in fuel economy across the board, car owners still come out ahead.
From the driver’s seat, the three-liter turbo-diesel injection engine in the Audi Q5 feels much like its gas-powered equivalent. During my test drive, I never heard diesel tick, nor did I experience any turbo or diesel lag.
The diesel engine develops 240 peak horsepower: slightly less than the turbocharged gasoline engine rated at 272. But peak torque is 428 foot-pounds as compared to 295 for the gas car. Since the engine develops this torque at 1750 rpm, the Q5 is a rocket ship off the line. Zero-to-sixty acceleration is 6.5 seconds.
Engineers added a fuel cut-off feature when the Q5 is stopped at a light. It works very much like a gasoline-electric hybrid, restarting the engine as soon as the driver takes his foot off the brake.
An eight-speed automatic transmission includes large overdrive gears for highway driving. The unit performs seamlessly with the engine, with no perceptible shift shock.
In typical Audi style, the Q5′s performance is as close to a sports car as a five-passenger crossover can get. Standard 19-inch wheels give the car an ample footprint for better maneuverability at speed. The electric power steering system is as well tuned for the car as these systems can get with surprisingly good on-center response. I had to make an evasive maneuver on the highway to avoid a piece of metal that had fallen off a truck and felt completely in control.
Audi is known for its refined suspensions. Although the test car does not have the adaptive suspension, the five-link front and trapezoidal link rear suspensions work beautifully, with stabilizer bars to keep the chassis flat while cornering.
Large ventilated disc brakes stop the car on a dime.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. The rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back, eliminating large blind spots in the back corners and under the rear glass. Lines superimposed over the image show the car’s trajectory according to steering inputs.
Engineers did an excellent job of isolating passengers from wind, road and engine noise so both rows can converse easily on the highway.
The Q5′s versatile interior offers buyers with active lifestyles a lot to love. Keyless entry and remote start enable the driver to enter the car and fire the ignition without removing the keys from his pocket. A power liftgate makes it easier to load large cargo into the back. Standard roof rails and tow hitch wiring allow owners to add a rack up top or tow a trailer.
Audi’s MMI interface uses a mouse-type device on the center console to control infotainment functions. I found it intuitive to use, eliminating unnecessary clutter on the instrument panel.
Power driver’s seat adjustments provide ample lower lumbar support for longer road trips.
The available mobile hotspot is a boon for owners who have long commutes or use their vehicles as mobile offices.
The Audi Q5 comes with quattro all-wheel drive that automatically sends power to the wheels with the best traction. Other standard safety features include front, side and side curtain airbags, daytime running lamps, xenon headlamps, antilock brakes, traction control and stability control.
Audi builds the Q5 at its Ingolstadt, Germany assembly plant.
Like: A versatile five-passenger crossover with all-wheel drive and exceptional fuel economy.
Dislike: Large TDI logo on the exterior is unattractive.
Model: Q5 TDI quattro Tiptronic
Base price: $46,500
As tested: $51,445
Horsepower: 240 Hp @ 3700 rpm
Torque: 428 lbs.-ft. @ 1750 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 6.5 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 24/31 mpg city/highway2014, Green Hybrid, Luxury 2014, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, Audi, auto review, performance, pricing, standard safety
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