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An SUV for the city

Vikrant Singh     September 3, 2008

The night life in Valencia, it is said, ends in the wee hours of the morning. And when it does, people head straight to the beach. Now, this isn’t something we do back home, but for more reasons than one, Valencia still feels closer to home than most other European cities. That there are fewer blondes (if any), is, of course, a good reason, but it’s the way people drive that makes you more comfortable. So, there are a few who jump red lights, cut lanes, and turn without indication, and drive as if they were born on the racetrack. The Audi Q5, which I am piloting around the city, is a bit like the crowd, as well.

You see, it’s an SUV; so, it’s supposed to go mud-plugging, and should be lost on tarmac. But, no, the Q5, too, thinks it was born on a racetrack. Go fast around corners and it’s confident and forgiving. On straight stretches with speeds topping the exhilarating side of 150 kmph, it behaves as if it were out on a Sunday morning beach ride. It Is a Car in SUV Clothing Unlike its elder sibling, the Q7, you cannot adjust the ride height on this one, and if you do decide to go off road, make sure it’s gravel, or, at the most, shallow muck you are negotiating. Anything more challenging, and there’s no guarantee that it will plug itself out without the help of a tractor. The Q5 is based on the A4 platform.

The Q5, based on A4 platform, uses a monocoque chassis
That means it uses a monocoque chassis, the same (aluminium) suspension architecture, the same wheelbase and the same set of engines—both diesel and petrol. However, in terms of styling, it’s more like a baby Q7—the front grille is similarly gaping and menacing, while the headlamps are more sedate. The lamps do additionally get the LED running lamps, the new Audi trademark. Inside though, it feels like the A4, only higher. The dash layout and design continue almost unchanged as well. Furthermore, it gets Audi’s drive select module, with no off-road option (no surprise there). The drive select module allows the user to switch between three modes— Comfort, Auto and Dynamic, depending on whether it’s a relaxed drive one is looking for or a sporty, corner-carving endeavour.

Like on the A4, the module alters the throttle response, the gear-change rpm, the steering feel and preciseness—and, of course, the suspension damping characteristics. But it’s the new 7-speed S-tronic transmission that is the highlight of the new SUV. It’s a dual clutch gearbox, which means faster and smoother gearshifts than a conventional automatic. It’s particularly good in downshifts—the throttle blips before every gear change are really pronounced. This box is mated to either a 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection petrol or a 3.0-litre common rail diesel unit.

Both engines are refined, poky and quite efficient. The diesel is the same as the one on the Q7 with 240 bhp and 500 Nm on tap, but thanks to Q5’s lesser weight, it returns better performance and economy figures. The Q5 will take on the BMW X3, and will make for a good alternative to it. It’s newer, packs in more technology and drives almost as well. But, off road, both are equally
The Q5 drive select module switches between Comfort, Auto and Dynamic modes
shallow.

Engine 2.0 litre petrol 3.0 litre diesel
Gearbox 7-speed dual clutch automatic
Max power 211/240 bhp
Max torque 350/500 Nm
0-100 KMPH 7.5/8 seconds (estimated)
Top speed 210/190 kmph
Price Rs 33-35 lakh (estimated)


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