Luxury Hatch On Stilts | Audi Q5 3.0 TFSI

BY Joel Tam

Audi bid's their naturally aspirated 3.2 V6 farewell, and the updated Q5 SUV impresses with a good drive thanks to a new 3-litre power-plant pushing 272 bhp and a hefty 400 Nm.

Photos: Joel Tam

The first-generation Audi Q5 had a good take-up rate around the world and here in Singapore too. Launched with two models, the 2.0 TFSI and the 3.2 FSI V6, the former did clearly better, although a fair number of 3.2s made it on our roads as well.

Well that engine is, along with the rest of the lineup, being phased out to make way for Audi’s potent supercharged 3.0 TFSI. But rather than the performance-tuned 333 bhp you'll find in say the S4, the Q5 has 272 bhp and 400 Nm of torque. Paired with Audi’s 8-speed Tiptronic transmission, it is the same quick-shifting unit you'll find on top tier Audi sedans. We would have loved for it to be mated to the S-tronic though, because the Q5 is a rather nifty handling SUV, and with all that power, it makes for a rather sporty drive.

Our test car came with chunky five-spoke 20" wheels that surprisingly, didn't seem to affect the ride too much. We've yet to test the 2.0 TFSI, so we can't comment on how much better that rides, but most buyers won't complain with these optional sweet looking 20" rollers.

Outwardly the Q5 gets very subtle changes. The Audi grille now has a hexagonal shape, keeping to the latest look from Ingolstadt. The lower S-line bumpers on our test car gets some additional details at the ventilation vents. Also new are the front and rear LED headlamps with modern looking daytime-running lamps.

The new Q5's interior is slightly update too, with a new three-spoked steering wheel. Specced with a matching brown leather and interior panel colour scheme, our tester came fitted with the yacht-like wood trimming that gave it a really premium feel. Getting comfortable in the Q5 is just too easy, you sit high, visibility is good and all the controls are within reach.

I'm still not a fan of Audi's control panel though. You have the menu buttons, a central knob, and four corner buttons to navigate through every time you need to access information or settings. Sure, you'll eventually get used to it over some time, but it's got to be one of the least user-friendly systems available in the market.

Equipment level is adequate for a premium SUV, the Q5 3.0 TFSI comes with Audi Drive Select, which allows the driver to pilot the car in four modes: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. As usual, we don't spend a lot of time in any other mode other than 'Dynamic'. Here the throttle response is sharpened, and the suspension and steering play a sportier tune. Want Dynamic suspension but not the sharp throttle response? No issue at all. Configure the settings in 'Individual' and you'll be able to set the car up according to your own driving taste.

Keeping it in 'Dynamic' mode, the steering is direct enough, and body roll is kept to a minimum. 0-100 km/h will be easily dispatched in 5.9 seconds thanks to the supercharged 3.0-litre heart, making this "Mom's Taxi" a rather fun car to drive, despite being a tall SUV. But again, while the 8-speed auto is no slouch, Audi's DSG gearbox in the form of the S-tronic would have really sweetened the deal.

On the whole, the Audi Q5 3.0 TFSI left a pretty good impression on me. As an enthusiast, I expect not just the cars and hatches we drive, but even the SUVs and MPVs to perform fairly well, and the Q5 passes with flying colours. I would still get an A4 Avant over an SUV, but if I'm ever thinking of taking on some rugged terrain in style, I'd be sure to check out the Audi Q5 3.0 TFSI.