2009 Audi Q5 3.2 quattro TiptronicPosted on November 6th, 2009
Style meets performance in Audi’s first compact SUV
By Nina Russin
This year, Audi expands its sport-utility lineup with the Q5: a compact alternative to the full-sized Q7. Built on the same chassis as the A4 sedan, the Q5 melds Audi’s race-inspired performance with sleek, upscale styling. Base price for the Q5 is $37,200, not including a $825 delivery charge.
Power comes from a 270-horsepower V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The Q5 accelerates from zero-to-sixty miles-per-hour in 6.7 seconds. Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system maintains a rear bias under normal conditions, but can transfer engine torque between axles and wheels to maximize traction.
The Q5 tows up to 4400 pounds: well above our 3500-pound ALV minimum standard. A new navigation system displays maps with three-dimensional graphics, and includes real-time traffic updates ($3000). I found the graphics hard to read while I was driving: simpler is better to keep drivers focused on the road.
The traffic updates are easy to access using the car’s mouse device. They appear on a separate screen which makes them easier to read. The driver can use the same mouse device to check the oil level and tire pressure from inside the car.
Test drive in the high desert
This week, I took the Q5 on an extended test drive from Phoenix, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada: a distance of just over 300 miles. The route included urban surface streets and highways, as well as long stretches of winding two and four-lane interstate between the two cities.
Most of the drive is along route 93: one of this country‘s prettiest interstates. The road begins in Wickenburg, northwest of Phoenix, passing through fields of Joshua trees, cactus and granite rock formations. Close to the state line, the route curves through a series of mountains, across the Hoover dam and Mojave desert into Las Vegas.
Its variety of terrain makes the 93 ideal for a test drive, combining some high-speed stretches of sparsely-traveled highway, with wide, sweeping turns through the mountains. Wide sweeping turns are Audi’s bread-and-butter.
Pawing the ground
Runners often talk about pawing the ground: optimized gait that combines rapid leg turnover with very light foot strikes. The term aptly describes the Q5‘s handling: light, nimble and responsive.
Standard 18-inch wheels on the test car give the chassis a wide, stable footprint. Engineers made extensive use of aluminum throughout the suspension, to reduce unsprung weight and enhance steering response. Use of high strength and ultra-high strength steel in key areas of the chassis makes the body rigid, to prevent bending when the car is pushed to its limits.
A drive select system allows the driver to tune the suspension, steering and transmission according to his preference: comfort, automatic, dynamic and individual ($2,950). The individual setting lets the driver customize the settings even further. The driver accesses the system using a mouse device on the center console.
Even with drive select in the automatic mode, it’s almost impossible to push the chassis beyond its limits. On an open stretch of road, I got the car close to 100 miles-per-hour. The wheels remained glued to the pavement. Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the Q5 on a dime.
The navigation system includes a rearview camera, that automatically displays a wide-angle image to the back of the car when the driver shifts into reverse. Lines superimposed over the image show the driver’s trajectory, according to steering inputs. Audible signals and graphics on the screen warn the driver about obstacles around the car perimeter.
The system is an important safety feature for parents of small children, since it shows objects below the driver’s sight-line.
I find that the rearview camera also makes it easier to back out of parking spots in which the view to either side of the vehicle is somewhat obstructed. Needless to say, the rearview camera is a great asset when parallel parking, or backing into a parking space.
Visibility to the front and sides of the car is pretty good, although the left side mirror blocked my view when cornering to the left. Over-the-shoulder visibility is good to both sides. A standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel allows smaller drivers to maintain a clear forward view, and a safe distance from the front airbag.
The Q5 comes with eight-way power adjustable front seats with four-way power lumbar controls. Two-position driver’s seat memory allows multiple family members to share the car. I found the driver’s seat quite comfortable on my five-hour drive. A dead pedal keeps the left and right feet at the same angle, and reduces leg fatigue on longer trips.
Audi’s direct injection fuel delivery system not only enhances throttle response, it also extends gas mileage by reducing the amount of unburned gas in the engine. My 316-mile drive used up 14.4 gallons of fuel, giving me an average 22 miles-per-gallon.
A premium package on the test car ($4300) includes a panoramic sunroof that positions a large glass panel over the first and second-row seats. Mesh shades allow ambient light in without direct sunlight heating up the car. Overhead reading lamps illuminate the passenger cabin after dark.
Xenon headlamps, also part of the package, produce a longer beam of light that’s closer to daylight. The option package also adds heated front seats, a power tailgate, an audio upgrade with iPod interface, dimming and folding side mirrors, and a dimming interior mirror with compass.
All passengers have ample access to cup and bottle holders. All four doors have bottle holders, and both the center console and fold-down second-row armrest include cupholders. There are three 12-volt power points: in the front ashtray, behind the center console, and in the cargo area.
Front-row occupants can stow valuables in the locking glove box, or a covered center console bin. A standard tonneau cover keeps items stored in the cargo area protected from prying eyes.
Although Audi classifies the Q5 as a five-passenger vehicle, it really holds four adults. A tall floor tunnel and the center console use up most of the legroom in the center position. Outboard passengers in the second row have ample head, hip and legroom.
Releases on the second-row seat cushions fold the seatbacks flat to extend the cargo floor. Designers added a second set of levers in the cargo area, making it much easier to load up the back. The power liftgate that comes with the premium package is a great feature for people who carry large cargo on a regular basis. Standard roof rails and cross bars allow buyers to add a roof rack for stowing items up top.
The test car comes standard with front, side and side curtain airbags, electronic stability control, antilock brakes and a tire pressure monitoring system. Audi builds the Q5 at its assembly plant in Ingolstadt, Germany.
Likes: A right-sized sport-utility vehicle with outstanding handling and performance, and a stylish, versatile interior.
Dislikes: Left outside mirror obstructs visibility to the left corner; lack of legroom for the second-row middle passenger.
Model: Q5 3.2 quattro Tiptronic
Base price: $37,200
As tested: $48,275
Horsepower: 270 Hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 243 lbs.-ft. @ 3000 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 6.7 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 18/23 mpg city/highway
3 responses to “2009 Audi Q5 3.2 quattro Tiptronic”
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I have had several Subaru SVX including 1992, one of my favorite cars, and two Audi V8, and now have a 2007 Subaru Legacy spec.B 2007 and a 6-cylinder Outback LLBean. The Subaru was good, but Audi has much more desirable amenities and features.
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