It’s Long in the Tooth, But So Are Audi’s Q5 Rivals. We Test the 40 TDI

The middle of the road sporty executive SUV market is a busy little niche. Its where the likes of the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Porsche Macan, and the Range Rover Velar play.

And there are some bigger local offerings that offer much value, space, and practicality too. Interestingly enough, all those noted above are well into the second phase of their life cycles. Which also serves to crack a reprieve for Audi’s similarly long in the tooth Q5.

So, What Does Q5 40 Stand For?

So, it was good to get a refreshed Q5 on test after recently tying some of those rivals. Ours packed ‘40’ level output. In accordance to the obscure numbered system Audi deployed a couple of years ago.

It groups similarly athletic engines in the four-ring range. Typical VAG fare, this one has a 140 kW 400 Nm turbodiesel 2-liter four-cylinder. Subtly electrified, it has a 5kW belt driven mild hybrid starter alternator to harvest energy when coasting or braking.

Stored in a lithium ion battery, the electric energy then aids acceleration and allows 40 TDI to coast between 50 and 160 km/h. And save fuel. Power goes through a 7-speed dual-clutch S tronic auto to Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive. It retains an intelligent electronic clutch based Torsen coupling centre differential.

Premium Q5 40 Packs Adaptive Air Springs

Packing five-link front and rear suspension, and progressive electromechanical steering, this premium packed Q5 got adaptive air springs too. Stopping is courtesy of meaty 13.3 front and 13.0 inch aft ventilated disc brakes. Nestling within this premium spec’s shiny face-polished 18” alloys.

Our premium S-Line car’s blacked out trim eases the regular version’s chrome grimace to make it a bit more of a Velar or Macan rival. And less predictable for a mid-sized German SUV that suffers from the old Bavarian sausage factory family design.

The nip and tuck retains Audi’s lightweight multi-material steel and aluminum hybrid chassis construction. So, it’s still 4.6 m long, 1.6 m tall and rides on a 2.8 m wheelbase. And a tad heavier. Endowed with a handy 2,400 kg towing capacity, ours also had a chunky fold-away hitch.

Cabin Finish is Still Good and Rich

Step inside and fit and finish is still good and rich. This one may be dark with a mix of black leather and deep veneer trim. But you can spec a more colourful solution for yours.

Like most middling to senior Audis, Q5 packs it all in. Its versatile digital dash and displays and albeit last season’s version of Audi’s ever-evolving MMI infotainment technology is cool. Even though this facelift Q5 lags behind some of its peers. The all-new Q3, for instance.

So, despite a few brave updates, this one is a bit more an Audi of a bygone era. Which means its cabin is more cluttered and curvier than that new kit. But that may very well be a plus if you prefer buttons to pinch and swipe surfaces.

Buttons a Disadvantage. Or Not?

Q5 has also lost its touchpad, so its tablet-like free-standing 10.1-inch infotainment system is touchscreen only. It’s relatively easy to navigate and packs all the latest programs but lacks the haptic convenience of those newer Audis. So, touching the screen on the fly can be compromised by bumping the wrong part of the screen.

Still, Q5 packs in everything that opens and shuts. All wrapped up in splendid Audi cabin quality that can be so easy to ignore. Second-row space a little mean, but ample for four adults and the boot will swallow a generous cargo.

Power in reserve is ample and there’s ample accessible torque and grunt on the road. That’s backed by good drivability and crisp response. The 40 engine is responsive, refined and quiet enough. Mechanical din is softer than the wind noise. Which was odd, considering the severe cracking noise as the windows power down.

Q5 40 TDI Lighter on Gas. Slower than Claimed

Economy is better than claimed. You can easily better 6 litres per hundred every day. They promise 7.3 city and 5.5 highway l/100 km for a combined 6.2 l/100. But this 40 TDI proved a bit off its claimed performance – we tested it some way off what Audi says we would achieve, at all stations.

Gear changing is unobtrusive, but Q5 40 TDI reacts with aplomb when you manually tug back a gear, or two on the steering paddles. It responds as urgently as you’d want from a mid-sized luxury SUV.

If you want quicker You still have the 45 TFSI and SQ5. This one’s more composed, its adaptive damping soaks up the bumps, thumps and miles and maintains a level poise at pace. Steering feel may seem a tad remote, but the chassis is sable and composed and fun enough to indulge in.

Q5 40 Modern Enough Versus its Real Rivals

Quiet, swift, and precise, yet smooth and luxurious, this Audi is modern enough, if you don’t consider its latest in-house siblings. That said, its real market rivals are also a little too long in the tooth. Which leaves the Audi Q5 40 TDI’s material lustre, refinement and practicality to speak for itself.

ROAD TEST: Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro S line
Engine: 140 kW 400 Nm 2-lire turbodiesel I4
Hybrid: 5 kW starter alternator
Drive: 7-speed DC automatic AWD
0-60 km/h:        4.01 sec
0-100 km/h:       9.03 sec
0-160 km/h:       23.54 sec
400m:             16.5 sec @ 137 km/h
80-120 km/h:      6.42 sec
120-160 km/h:     10.79 sec
VMax:             220 km/h
Fuel: average:    6.2 l/100 km
CO2:              185 g/km
Warranty/Service: 1y unl/5y 100K km
LIST PRICE:       R1.00M
RATED:            7
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