It was three years ago that Audi released the enormous Q7 and jumped into the SUV market. However, Audi’s been having some difficulty competing with BMW’s X5 and Mercedes-Benz’s GL, mainly because Americans hardly consider Audi when it comes to the luxury segment, and because the Q7 is downright beastly and unappealing.
Last year Audi decided to get a little sensible with the release of the smaller Audi Q5. Not a bad decision seeing as the compact pocket-size SUV segment is considered one of the fastest growing markets in the automotive industry. BMW, which has been competing in the segment since 2003, has done its best to beat the competition to the market and set the standard with the X3. However, shoppers now have a choice between at least 5 compact luxury SUVs in addition to the X3, and we feel it’s safe to say that some of them are better alternatives than the Munich automaker’s compact sports utility, which has yet to see a major transformation since its inception. Acura now offers the RDX, Volvo has the XC60 and Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti offer the GLK and the EX35 respectively. So how does the Q5 stand-up to the competition?
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Reviewed: 2009 Audi Q5 3.2 quattro:
2010 Audi Q5 3.2 quattro Specifications:
Base Price: $37,200
Price as Tested: $52,950
Engine: 3.2L V6 FSI direct injection – 270-hp/243 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 6-Speed Triptronic Automatic Transmission
Curb Weight: 4,178 lbs
0 to 62 mph: 6.7 seconds
Fuel-Economy: 18/23 mpg (city/highway)
At first glance – the Audi Q5 seems nothing more than a shrunken Q7. It measures 15.19 feet long and 6.17 feet wide and 5.41 feet high ““ making it sportier than any of its competitors – and sits on Audi MLP platform (Modular Longitudinal Platform), which debuted in the Audi A5.
Stylish headlights and a large single-frame grille dominate the Q5’s front end. Bi-xenon lamps and LED daytime running lights are available as an optional upgrade. From the side, the standard 18-inch wheels and aluminum exterior trim give the Q5 a sleek look. The rear end features stylish tail lamps with a motorized tail gate, which we felt was a clever deception – it looks to be quite wide when closed, but when opened, reveals the narrowest opening in the segment.
Nonetheless, the Audi Q5 is very stylish and sporty looking when compared to the rest of the bunch in the compact luxury SUV segment.
Open the driver-side door and all the buttons and gadgets in the interior might frighten you. Our 2009 Audi Q5 3.2 Premium Quatrro with a Prestige Package was fully-loaded with a bunch of options including Audi’s third-generation MMI with 3D navigation with HDD-based Navigation and real-time traffic information, a joystick control, SIRIUS satellite radio, 3-zone climate control, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, Audi’s side assist blind spot protection and much much more. Be aware however, that all those extra options throw the price tag of the Q5 sky-high.
Getting back to Audi’s third-generation MMI system; the feature seemed very confusing at first, but once we got ourselves situated and spent a good half-hour with it, we were blown away. The system is coupled with a high-resolution 800×480 pixel LED backlit 7-inch screen, on which every action is performed with a smooth animation that almost makes you feel like you’re using an Apple product. Most of the function in the MMI system are controlled via a new joystick located on the center knob or voice input. The voice input features allows commands such as “I’m hungry,” “I need money,” “I need gas,” “I need coffee,” and will point you toward the closest relevant locations.
Another MMI option that is a “wow” factor is the 3D navigation; you can use the joystick to navigate to a location on the screen and just point and click for directions.
If you”re not the tech-savvy type you”re going to completely hate everything about the MMI system.
Audi says that the Q5 can comfortably accommodate five individual and we have to agree since the ergonomically designed seats can be flexibly arranged. Available as an option is the “rear bench seat plus”, which slides almost 4-inches lengthwise, provides adequate leg-room for rear-seat passengers. The Q5 also features numerous storage compartments including, drink holders, bottle holders, storage compartments in the trunk and one under the passenger-side footwell.
Power for the 2009 Audi Q5 comes courtesy of a 3.2L V6 FSI direct injection making 270-hp with a maximum torque of 243 lb-ft. Mated with a 6-speed Triptronic automatic transmission, the 2009 Q5 can go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. The quattro all-wheel-drive system has a rear-biased torque split of 40/60, which allows for a more sporty drive.
Overall, performance of the Audi Q5 is much better than its competitors, a large part of which is due to its drive-select system that allows you to choose from four different modes including Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and a customized Individual mode. The system tightens up the steering of the car along with the throttle response time, reacting to road conditions or your specifications. Handling of the 2009 Q5 is very nimble and sharp. It tracks accurately around the curves and keeps body-roll in check when you throw it around the corners.
For those worried about fuel-economy figures, Audi says that its Q5 gets an estimated at 18/23 mpg (city/highway). We fluctuated between 18.5 and 19 mpg throughout the week-long test.
The 2009 Audi Q5 also has the best-in-class towing capacity with a total capacity of 4,400 lbs.
– Acura RDX = 1500 lbs
– BMW X3 = 3500 lbs
– Mercedes GLK = 3500 lbs
– Infiniti EX = Towing not recommended
– Volvo XC60 = 3307 lbs
After spending four days with the 2009 Audi Q5, we feel that the Audi Q5 has managed to separate itself from its competitors and may give the brand the boost it needs to compete strongly against other luxury brands. A few reasons for that is due to its gorgeous looks inside out, its sporty yet well-composed driving capabilities and the host of luxury features.
Pricing for the 2009 Audi Q5 starts at $37,200. Comparing that to a $39,700 BMW X3, $32,520 Acura RDX, $33,800 Infiniti EX35, the $34,600 Mercedes-Benz GLK and the $33,845 Volvo XC60 – the Q5 feels fairly well-priced. However, the extended list of options and features will run the pricing of the Q5 unreasonably high.
Our test-model was priced at $52,950 as it came with an $11,000 Prestige Package, which includes a Panorama sunroof, Audi xenon plus lights with LEDs, a power tailgate, a garage door opener, heated front seats, Bluetooth, memory seating, 19-inch alloy-wheels with all-season tires, iPod connectivity, Audi advanced key, MMI navigation with cd/dvd player and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. Other options include a $475 Meteor gray pearl effect paint, a $2,950 Audi drive select option and a $500 Audi side assist.
Overall, the Q5 is a very fine SUV, but it is also a very expensive one for those shopping in the compact luxury SUV segment.
Reviewed: 2009 Audi Q5:
– By: Stephen Calogera
All Photos Copyright ©2009 Omar Rana ““ egmCarTech.