SINGING TO THE TUNE OF A DIFFERENT SONG
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Published on Mon, Jul 11, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
You’ve seen the commercial. Everybody in the neighborhood is driving identical silver SUVs. Suddenly, heads turn toward a distinctive, black crossover of striking proportions. It’s the Audi Q5, and it’s not singing the same old song. After living with the Q5 for a week, we now know why the black bird sings. It’s singing to the tune of a different song. By John-Fredrik Wright One of my first thoughts when I got in the Q5 was “this would be a great car for my better half.” Later that same day my better half got in the car, looked around, and said “wow, this is a nice car, what is it?” That she asked what it is, is in itself a good sign. She’s gotten used to seeing so many different cars parked in the driveway that none usually get a passing thought. She may make note of the exterior color, especially if it stands out. With the Q5, however, this is not what caught her eye. It is, instead, the fact that she sits comfortably in the front seat, with a pretty good view of the road, and the interior aesthetics—especially the interior aesthetics. And I must agree; the cockpit of the Q5 is great. It looks great. It works great. Even if it is pretty much par for Audi, the Q5 must be the perfect size for the Audi-pit.
It should be noted that this particular Q5 is a top-of-the-line SUV, Audi’s S-line. In other words, this car is a sweet ride. In my mind all Audis are special, but the S-line is something extra. Some of the features in the Q5, not solely S-line options, are neat touches to the daily luxurious ride. How about a cooled or heated cup-holder? Of course it won’t boil your can of chicken noodle soup or turn your soft-serve into ice cream scoops, but it will slow down how fast your Caramel Macchiato cools down or how quickly your Cinnamon Dolce Crème Frappuccino loses its great icy texture. Pretty cool. The fact that the GPS has traffic information (which many, but not all, GPS systems do) makes driving around the greater LA area much easier. It’s great to see what freeways to avoid. With this system, you can find alternative routes quickly and be on your merry way. Speaking of the GPS, the system is fully functional even when the car is in motion. I always hate having to stop the car to let my passenger use the GPS, so this is worth a lot to me. This does mean that Audi, and a very select few other manufacturers, trust that the driver will let a passenger run the GPS system and, if a co-pilot is lacking, stay safe while working it themselves. The good news is that the system is so intuitive that it might even be okay to use while driving. And as there are some GPS interfaces that shouldn’t even be allowed when parked, this really is a great feat.
But getting back to the interior: First off, there’s a lot of it. Interior that is. There’s enough room for four adults to go on road trips and five on shorter runs. Even with the rear row upright, there’s enough room for a large dog (or two). Fold the rear row, and suddenly you can haul all the boxes you bought at IKEA. Now, this isn’t the big Q7, but it still feels roomy enough to cope with whatever I can think of moving on any random day. That bigness, thankfully, doesn’t translate over to the feel of the drive. A truck this is not. I won’t go so far as to say that this is a sport sedan, but Audi has done a fabulous job making it feel as close to it as possible. There is virtually no roll during normal driving circumstances (like that you might find in other sloppy SUVs), and in sharper corners the Q5 feels stable and safe. The fully loaded S-line Q5 comes with the Audi Adaptive Cruise Control, Parking System with rearview camera, Audi Side Assist, and a tire pressure monitoring system, just to name a few. The adaptive cruise control is always a little nerve-racking to get used to, but once you trust it, it’s a great tool—both safety wise and for comfort and convenience. The side assist system, which notifies you if there is a car in the lane next to you, also adds a great deal of safety. I’m always impressed how fast my brain starts registering if the orange warning light by the side mirrors is on or off, even without me really looking that way. I hope my brain will remember if there is a car there or not if I need to make a rapid lane change to avoid an accident. I assume, and hope, that my subconscious will tell me what lane is free and what one is occupied. The adaptive cruise will even blink a light and audibly notify you if you need to step on the brake. With all this technology doing so much of the work for me, one can’t help but feel like Goofy a little over five minutes into the classic clip “Mickey’s Trailer”, when Mickey and Donald Duck ask “Who’s driving?”. Yeah, who is driving?
Beyond all the safety tools, the Q5 also can be equipped with the Bang & Olufsen sound system, which is surely one of best available in mobile application. The one thing missing on the Q5 are the speakers that retract and disappear into the dashboard, available in the A8 and Q7. The 3.2 liter V6 makes for one quick Q5—maybe not sports car quick, but definitely quick enough to get you comfortably up to speed. It’s definitely fast enough for the all-around great car that the Q5 is. The automatic transmission is smooth, as is the ride, even under rapid acceleration. The 3.2 can easily battle hills, both up and down, and with the cruise control on. It will make sure you don’t lose speed going up or gain speed going down the other side. The cockpit controls—most of them integrated into the couple of buttons around the main MMI-button (multi media interface)—are situated between the two front seats. Having the controls down low means they are always within easy reach for the driver. Instead of leaning forward to reach the buttons on the dashboard, you can easily move your right hand down to where the gear lever is (where your hand is used to go anyway) and—without looking—operate the entire system. Brilliant!
One of my parting thoughts I had, as the week with the Q5 comes to an end: “Forget my better half; this is a great car for me.” I wonder if Audi will give me a discount if I buy two? For more information about Audi products, go to www.audiusa.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Audi Q5 3.2 quattro Tiptronic Price: $42,500 (base) $59,900 (as tested) EPA fuel economy rating: 18 mpg (city) 23 mpg (highway) Engine size and type: 3.2 liter DOHC V6 gasoline engine with FSI direct injection and Audi valvelift system
Horsepower: 270 hp @ 6500 rpm Torque: 243 pound-feet @ 3000 rpm Transmission type: Six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with Sport and manual mode Drive configuration: quattro all-wheel drive Steering (type): Servotronic, speed-sensitive power rack and pinion, maintenance-free Suspension (front and rear): Front five-link independent steel spring suspension Rear trapezoidal-link independent steel spring suspension Brakes and tires: Dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split, Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake pressure Distribution (EBD) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC); brake booster 255/45 summer performance tires Dimensions Length: 182.2 in. Width: 82.2 in. Height: 65.1 in. Curb weight: 4299 lbs.