2016 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Review
The Q5 is mostly unchanged for 2016, but that certainly won’t get in the way of this models popularity. It remains one of North America’s most popular compact crossover SUVs. That’s right, the Q5’s record-breaking 42,420 U.S. deliveries in calendar year 2014 beat all comers except Acura’s RDX that just narrowly edged it out, with both model’s 2015 sales looking to outpace last year’s numbers before year end. This is even more interesting because the premium sector especially loves the latest styles and newest tech, and despite its continued success today’s Q5 is hardly new in any respect.
This current generation dates back to 2008 when it first wowed Beijing auto show goers and then later that year did likewise in LA before going on sale in 2009. That’s six long years with only a minor update in 2012, which introduced new headlamps and taillights, refreshed fascias, updated mechanicals with increased output and efficiency, enhanced infotainment systems and a few interior trim modifications.
Most will agree that the Q5 remains a thoroughly attractive compact to near mid-size crossover ute, done out in Audi’s traditional understated elegance, albeit still fitted with one of the bolder grilles in the luxury sector. Its singleframe design is a stunning piece of vertically slatted brightwork, while its headlamps, albeit simpler in style than more recent Audi designs, are still up-to-date due to LEDs that wrap all the way around. Its edgy LED-enhanced tail lamps are as fresh as anything in the four-ringed fleet, mind you, while Audi finishes off this example with plenty of tasteful polished aluminum and chromed bits and pieces that included stylish yet beefy optional aluminum roof rack cross members clamped onto the standard aluminum-tone roof rails.
If a Q5 so-equipped can’t get you excited about the year’s first snowfall then boarding, downhill or Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, tubing and/or any number of other winter recreational activities aren’t likely amongst your personal passions, but you can still take satisfaction, let alone have comfort in knowing that you can get just about anywhere you want in as little time as possible aboard a Q5.
First off, all Q5s come standard with the brand’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive, so getting to your destination is not an issue, even in inclement weather or slippery road conditions. My tester was fitted with the base 16-valve, DOHC, direct-injected and turbocharged 2.0 TFSI powertrain that produces 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, a wonderfully efficient yet amply powerful design that creates full twist from as low as 1,500 rpm and maintains it right through to 4,300 rpm, whereas full power can be found from 4,450 to 6,000 rpm, a good range for easy highway passing performance. It’s smooth and quiet for a four too, this at least partially due to how well Audi isolates the Q5’s cabin, which also limits wind and road noise very effectively, while the eight-speed automatic it comes mated to is perfectly configured to the Q5’s personality, delivering quick, responsive shifts whether actuated by hand on the Tiptronic shift lever or left to its own devices, which either way are as smooth as smooth can be.
To this end I can’t think of another compact SUV that provides the Q5’s level of driving refinement whether on city roads or cruising the highway, its ride easily one of, if not the best in its class. I’ve got a feeling this is one of its most popular attributes, because the majority of buyers aren’t purchasing a vehicle in this class for ultimate handling around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, although I’m sure the top-line SQ5 would do quite well on any track. Rather, most are looking for a nice balance of adept road-holding for both enjoyment and safety reasons, plus a compliant ride due to the harshness of road surfaces that pretty well each and every one of us must endure due to the ill state of our cities’ inner and arterial networks.
Yet even on fresh tarmac the Q5 is a dream to pilot, its ride so sublime that it’ll make you wonder if it can handle a curve at all. Your first fast-paced attack on an unsuspecting set of esses will verify the opposite, however, as the Q5 is as capable of slaying apexes as its more firmly sprung competitors, and even more so if that corner is littered with uneven pavement patchwork or worse, unfilled frost heaves or potholes, which is often the case in our country’s colder regions. The Q5’s softer sprung yet fully independent five-link front and trapezoidal-link rear setup, that comes with good suspension travel, keeps all four wheels in more constant contact with the road than a more rigid design can, and I don’t know about you but I find it much easier to rotate a car around a turn quickly when it’s tires aren’t futilely grasping for air.
All of this performance comes with excellent fuel economy, another 2.0 TFSI attribute. While premium buyers aren’t as concerned about pump savings as those in the mainstream volume sector, most didn’t achieve their success by reckless spending, the smaller 2.0-liter four addressing ever-tightening middle class budgets as well as environmental considerations with an EPA rating of 20 mpg city, 28 highway and 23 combined, partial thanks given to standard kinetic brake-energy recovery (the Q5 also gets an optional auto start/stop system in higher trims). For the time being Audi’s VW connection means that the Q5’s 3.0-liter TDI turbo-diesel is temporarily off the market, last year’s version delivering the best highway and combined ratings amongst the 2015 model’s four available powertrains at 31 and 27 mpg respectively, whereas its city rating was identical to the hybrid’s at 24 mpg, and yes in case you didn’t already know, Audi offers an electrified hybrid version of the Q5 that’s good for 24 mpg city, 30 highway and 26 combined. Finally, the gasoline-powered 3.0 TFSI is wonderfully quick with a 272-horsepower six capable of shaving a second off the Q5’s sprint from 0 to 60 mph at only 6.0 seconds compared to the 2.0 TFSI’s 7.0-second dash, while of course using more fuel to do so, whereas the SQ5’s 354-horsepower mill lowers that 0-60 charge down to 5.1 seconds, although those wanting to upgrade to either direct-injected, supercharged V6-powered model won’t likely care a single iota about fuel economy.
As wonderful as its powertrain is and as refined its chassis, I’ll hazard to guess that the Q5’s many admirers are equally enamored with its interior. As with all Audis it’s nicely finished, with most surfaces that aren’t treated to leather or a high-end wood, aluminum or metallic trim covered in soft touch pliable plastics including the dash top, instrument panel, and even the sides of the center stack, not to mention the door uppers front and rear, although some might find the lack of softer synthetics on the lower door panels, lower dash and especially the glove box lid a bit out of premium character. I can overlook this luxury miss because of how well everything fits together, plus the beautiful detail of its gorgeous textured aluminum inlays, the cabin’s mostly high-quality switchgear that fit together tightly across the center stack and better damped than the slightly wiggly ones around the infotainment controller, plus its smaller but still very good graphic displays that include a color MID in as-tested Premium Plus with Technology package trim and a fair-sized infotainment screen across the line, the latter filled with Audi’s excellent, user-friendly Multi Media Interface (MMI) that’s controlled by a particularly handy lower console-mounted rotating dial surrounded by ample feature shortcut buttons.
Without turning this review into a buyers’ guide or worse, a brochure, some of my $42,750 Premium Plus tester’s most notable features include stainless doorsill plates, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, aluminum interior inlays, heatable front seats, driver’s seat memory, a gorgeous stainless steel trunk sill protection plate and more.
All of these goodies get added to a bevy of equipment pulled up from $40,900 base Premium trim, a shortlist including auto on/off HID headlamps, LED driving lights, fog lamps, LED taillights, heatable and powered side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, ambient LED interior lighting, an electromechanical parking brake, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, a four-spoke leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel,three-zone auto HVAC, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/satellite audio, Bluetooth, eight-way powered front seats with four-way powered lumbar support, leather upholstery, a large panoramic glass sunroof overhead, a powered liftgate, a removable cargo floor, and totally flexible 40/20/40-split rear seats that slide, recline and of course fold to accommodate various combinations of passengers and cargo, the multi-adaptable configuration including a center pass-through that lets two rear passengers join you for a day on the slopes with previously mentioned ski gear down the middle, the Q5’s max cargo volume measuring a sizable 29.1 cubic feet with rear seatbacks upright and 55.1 cubic feet when all are laid flat.
You may remember that my tester was also fitted with a Technology package that, for $4,500, adds the aforementioned color multi-information display, Audi’s side assist lane change safety system, hard drive-sourced navigation, a rearview camera (that really should be standard), front and rear parking sonar, voice recognition, a DVD player, HD Radio, Audi connect wireless internet, and the pièce de résistance, a 705-watt, 15-channel, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system that sounded fabulous.
You can also add a $750 Sport package with steering wheel paddles, Audi Drive Select with Dynamic sport mode and more, whereas you can dress up the interior with piano black lacquered inlays or ash hardwood, while a number of additional options are available too, such as rear side-impact airbags for $350.
OK, that’s a longer list of features than I planned to include but I couldn’t help myself, as there’s just so much to like even with the base model. As-tested the 2016 Q5 2.0 TFSI Premium Plus with its Technology package is an ideal mixture of performance and comfort highlighted by exquisitely luxurious detailing that’s combined with purposeful Teutonic minimalism, Audi never going over the top with excess and therefore providing those who like a more subdued take on sport-luxury with a near perfect reflection of sophisticated contemporary taste. Yes, Audi understands today’s compact luxury crossover buyer, even making sure that all safety considerations are met and therefore earning the 2016 Q5 a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS, so it’ll likely remain one of the segment’s sales leaders for years to come as long as it doesn’t deviate from this well-proven formula.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press; Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press; Copyright: American Auto Press Inc.