2012 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Premium Plus S Line Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on September 05, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on September 05, 2012

Published on September 05, 2012

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on September 05, 2012

Where was I when the Q5 was launched? It's been almost four years amongst us and this is the first time I've had opportunity to drive Audi's pint-sized crossover. I know there was one in the German brand's press fleet back in late 2008 or at least 2009, but that was when I was spending most of my time trying to grow my business in Brazil where the market wasn't imploding, and I don't think the Q5 had been launched throughout the whole of the Americas at that point. All I can say now that I've finally gotten behind the wheel is that I really missed out. Truly, I think I've found my new favourite SUV.

It's not only how it looks, although I really like its trademark Audi design cues and overall solid stance, but more so how it drives. Where the last BMW X3 I drove was rigid to the point of being rough, the Q5 absorbs everything in its path without so much as a backwards glance. Speed bumps that upset other SUVs with shuddering underfoot and commotion up top are a hop, skip and jump for the little Audi, so I can only imagine that it would perform wonderfully on the trail to the cottage too.

While some light-duty off-roading would have been fun, my test week was made up of city driving with jaunts on the highway now and then, which is probably more of how average users will put the Q5 through its paces. It's one of the easiest vehicles to drive that I've had this year. It rides taller than some in this class, yet it never feels tippy even in sharp corners taken quickly. Rather, it snakes through turns with the composure of an A4 Avant, confident, controlled and almost casual in its demeanor. Its height makes for fabulous visibility all-round, which combines with forward and back-up sensors for ultra-easy parking.

And its 2.0-litre TFSI engine is one of those powerplants that never makes you wish it had more cylinders. Four is enough thanks to 211-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the latter from as low as 1,500 rpm. In an SUV, or anything that weighs more than a compact car (and the Q5 is a bit hefty for a compact crossover at 1,895 kilos/4,177 lbs), torque is what matters most when trying to get off the line. Audi offers the Q5 with a V6 too, which adds another 1.2 litres of displacement for a total of 3.2, and while output is up by 59-horsepower, torque is actually down by 15 lb-ft at 243, and it takes twice as many revs to achieve maximum thrust. That's why the little 2.0-litre direct-injected turbo feels so strong off the line. Well, that and its state-of-the-art 8-speed automatic transmission, a move way up from the 3.2-litre engine's old 6-speed unit.

Yah, impressive huh? Like the Q5 3.2, a number of Audi's rivals are still making do with 6-speed gearboxes, whereas the 2.0 TFSI's 8-speed unit almost shifts as smoothly as a "gearless" CVT, yet with the kind of positive engagement from increment to increment that can only come from having distinct gearing ratios. It helps the Q5 eke out a claimed 10.6 L/100km city and 7.7 highway compared to the V6 engine's 11.5 and 9.0.

That's pretty good, but not as thrifty as the new Q5 Hybrid launching this fall as a 2013 model. That little crossover achieves a claimed 6.9 L/100km combined city/highway from the same 2.0-litre/eight-speed powertrain with an electric motor, and comes rated at 245-horsepower and a staggering 354 lb-ft of torque, so fuel economy won't be it's only strength.

The Q5 Hybrid will come standard with quattro all-wheel drive, as do all Audis including the 2012 Q5 2.0 TFSI I tested, so all-weather grip is included. My test week was absolutely dry and sun-filled, and while I'm hardly complaining, I wasn't given opportunity to test out its foul weather capability. I'm guessing this version of quattro measures up to others I've driven in the past, which have never disappointed no matter the road conditions.

What also never disappoints in an Audi is interior design and refinement, and the Q5 is one of the nicest in the premium compact class with rich soft-touch plastics, superb quality switchgear and top-tier features all housed in a clean, uncluttered design that should be thoroughly appealing to all but the woodgrain and tufted velvet crowd. All the usual luxury items are included in standard "Premium" trim, such as heated leather seats, these ones 8-way powered up front with driver's side memory, and a leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic multifunction steering wheel. The latest version of Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) is included too, and it's about as user-friendly as these advanced infotainment systems get. The base Q5 includes Sirius satellite radio as well, plus Bluetooth. I was pleasantly surprised that such a small vehicle would have standard tri-zone automatic climate control, and it worked flawlessly with everyone inside enjoying just the right temperature during some extremely hot summer days. While the standard items list continues on with an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated mirrors that tip-down when reversing, fog lamps, LED taillights, and more, Audi spiffed up my tester with a number of packages and options that really took things to new levels of luxury and performance.

First was the inclusion of "Premium Plus" trim, and no it wasn't supplied by Mr. Christie. Included is proximity sensing Advanced Key with pushbutton ignition, heated rear seats, rain-sensing wipers, an iPod interface, LED daytime running lights and bi-xenon headlamps with washers, Audi Side Assist, and an S-Line Sport Select driver-selectable suspension with Comfort, Auto and Dynamic modes. It works wonderfully, allowing a little more sport when the road opens up, yet without harshness during everyday driving.

Audi also added in its Navigation package, highlighted by a 7-inch colour screen displaying 3D map topography, with all the info stored on a 40-gig hard drive. Oddly a backup camera costs extra, and wasn't included. The Bang & Olufsen Sound upgrade was added onto my Q5's options list, delivering brilliant audio from 14 speakers and a 505-watt digital amp, easily worth the $1,000 asked. Additionally, Audi upped performance with its S-Line Sport package, featuring 20-inch rims and tires, a revised front grille, and a unique 3-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles. Topping everything off, literally, was an expansive panoramic glass sunroof. Premium Plus trim moves the price up from the base Premium's $43,195, including destination fees, to $47,295. Adding on the extras, which totaled $8,650, my tester rang in at $55,945, destination in.

For that you get a beautifully finished compact crossover SUV with enough options to keep you entertained for the next few years at least. Add in the convenience of a roomy passenger compartment with a lot more cargo capacity than any four-door sedan, 540 litres with the 60/40-split seatbacks upright and 1,560 when they're folded flat, plus up to 2,000 kilos of towing capacity and great fuel efficiency, as well as what I think is the best sport-comfort compromise in the class, and you've got one very impressive little luxury ute.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Audi, 2012, Q5, $40,000 - $49,999, $50,000 - $74,999, Compact,

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