DETROIT – I waited much too long before asking Audi to let me test drive the Q5, the German automaker's small crossover utility vehicle. But it was well worth the wait.
First, Audi's Q5 has two engine choices: A 3.2-liter direct fuel injected V6 that makes 270 horsepower and a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 211 horsepower. I had the turbo and I'm glad I did.
My turbocharged Audi Q5 also made 258 pound-feet of torque at an awfully low 1,500 rpm. Plus, it was mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability. It's the well engineered street engine that makes more torque than horsepower and maximum torque at such a low rpm meant that my test vehicle was awfully quick from just about any speed.
Once I was headed downtown on I-75 and I assertively pushed the pedal towards the metal and my Audi Q5 sped from about 65 mph to 110 mph and there was plenty of oomph to go. In fact, the Q5 will automatically shut off at 130 mph.
Acceleration didn't press me back into the seat but it was steady and speedy; it took about one tenth of a mile to break the three digit barrier. I found the accelerator pedal very sensitive; that is I had to press that pedal with the respect I give vehicles with a lot more horsepower. The Q5 was just that quick and the gas pedal just that sensitive.
And the ride was exceptional. My test vehicle, as do all Q5s, had a long wheel base which gave it a sedan-like ride especially on the Interstates. Cornering was precise and it handled with rifle shot accuracy. In other words, just a slight turn of the steering wheel and my test vehicle headed in whatever direction I wanted to go.
Braking was great; in fact the vehicle would abruptly downshift under aggressive braking. My sense was that it would downshift from say seventh gear to fifth when aggressively slowed to a cruise.
Like all Audis, the Q5's instrument pod was dominated by the tachometer on the left and the speedometer on the right with an information readout rectangle separating them. Controls were backlit in red at night, another Audi trademark. My only quibble was that the MMI (multimedia interface) was sandwiched between the audio and climate controls on the center stack. It was a little too much togetherness for me; still, it was nicely done.
My test vehicle was pretty straightforward. It didn't feature adaptive Xenon headlights, nor did it have a panoramic roof, nor did it feature Audi's available system that will determine if the crossbars are installed on the roof rails and then adjust the Q5's handling dynamics to account for a higher center of gravity and absent was the climate controlled cupholders.
However, it had other attributes common to all Q5s. My test vehicle could tow 4,400 lbs., it had two zone climate controls and there was 55 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats folded down for hauling all sorts of stuff. And the sounds were simply the best I've heard on a "concert" system.
Power front seats that were heated, heated side view mirrors, Bluetooth, satellite radio, adjustable rear seats, tire pressure monitoring and top notch aluminum, leather and wood trim rounded out what I thought was a well equipped vehicle.
It also looked good. Audi's new design is hard to categorize; it's conservatively sleek and dominated by the single frame grille that I just love. Audi also was one of the first automakers to use LED external lighting.
For the $38,000 sticker on my test vehicle, I thought the 2011 Audi Q5 Quattro (all-wheel-drive) was an awfully good deal.