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Published 27 February 2013 21:23, Updated 28 February 2013 14:34
Not that much has changed on the Q5 but it’s still a hard vehicle not to like if you want a composed and stylish mid-size SUV for inner-city driving. Photo: Audi
A decent coffee is hard to find in outback South Australia, so it’s an unlikely habitat for an Audi owner.
Most Audis hug the coast, where coffee comes from a machine not a jar and lunch is focaccia and sun-dried tomatoes, not Four ’N Twenty pies and sun-dried Vegemite sandwiches.
So it came as a surprise when Audi said it would launch its touched up Q5 SUV at Parachilna in the baking sun of the Flinders Ranges. That’s Toyota territory, where every second vehicle is a LandCruiser or a HiLux.
Break down out there in a luxury German runabout and you’ll provide the locals with their entertainment for the year as you wait for parts and someone to fix it.
Still, Audi wanted to show that Australia’s biggest selling, medium size luxury SUV is more than a Toorak tractor and doesn’t mind a bit of rough, so the country’s media were encouraged to roll politely through an easy dirt track on Nilpena Station.
Apart from getting dirty, this just showed how good the air-conditioning was in 42-degree heat. It was not a serious off-road challenge, as Audi admits the Q5 is not designed for this.
But given the challenge it faces from the Range Rover Evoque, which has genuine off-road credentials, throwing up a little bit of dust was meant to make the Q5 look more masculine.
The Q5 has been on the Australian market since 2009 and sales in 2011-12 were 2830 out of total premium SUV sales of 30,036.
This market has grown by more than 14,000 vehicles since 2006.
There are a few styling tweeks on the new Q5, with a revised grille, new rear diffuser, flattened bottoms on the exhaust pipes, new LED strip lighting around the xenon-plus headlights on the V6 and a few other bits and pieces.
Proximity keys and electric tailgates are now standard, the media system has been simplified and new interior colours are available.
The biggest changes have been under the bonnet, the engines – two diesel and two petrol – being upgraded and improved or replaced. The top of the range Q5 now has a 3-litre TFSI, a supercharged V6, in place of the previous, naturally aspirated 3.2-litre.
It has 200kW of power and produces 400Nm of torque between 2150 and 4780rpm. It gets to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds yet fuel consumption is just 8.5 litres per 100km with CO2 emissions of 199 grams per km.
Helping the fuel consumption is a stop-start system.
The diesel engines are mated to a seven-speed gearbox while the petrol engines go through a beautifully smooth eight-speed box.
The electro-mechanical steering – in straight-line driving, the Q5 no longer needs any energy for steering – doesn’t feel as positive as it could be but that’s unlikely to be an issue for most people.
Audi has also tuned the springs, shock absorbers and stabilisers and its road manners are excellent. It holds lines through corners and smooths out our atrociously bumpy roads very well.
Otherwise the cabin’s comfort and refinement is first-rate. On the 500kms from Parachilna to Adelaide, there was plenty of open road and I didn’t even notice the seats. When you don’t have to shift to get comfortable, that’s when you know the bum holders are terrific.
Not that much has changed on the Q5 but it’s still a hard vehicle not to like if you want a composed and stylish mid-size SUV for inner-city driving.
Standard equipment in all the variants has been upgraded. The six-cylinder models, the 3-litre TFSI and TDI, get a navigation upgrade, a reversing camera, electric passenger seat, a memory package for seats and side mirrors, drive select, tyre pressure monitor and hill-hold assist. Audi says this is worth more than $7000.
They all have a Bluetooth interface but you still have to pay $110 for the cord if you want to connect an iPhone for charging.
The four-cylinder models get an extra $6500 worth of upgrades.
A radar-based cruise control system is available as an optional $1193 extra for the first time. It regulates the distance to the car in front and below 30km/h slaps on the anchors if it detects an impending collision.
It also includes active lane assist, which corrects the steering to stay within the lane, and a blind spot monitor in the wing mirrors.
The diesel 2.0 TDI (turbocharged direct injection) is almost as likeable as the bigger option and at a base price of $62,200 it’s enough car for most people.