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in this issue ASA BUTTERFIELD BY MITCHELL NGUYEN MCCORMACK

Wheels: Audi Q5

FOUR WHEELS FOR A FULL HOUSE. A manly car for a family man: That’s the Audi Q5 in a nutshell. DAMAN’s resident gearhead and model father Haruns Maharbina takes the crossover for a spin

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At one time, Audi seemed like the awkward kid at the German school of automotive giants. But that was a long time ago, and the company has since stepped up their game and emerged as a strong contender. Representing Audi at the luxury crossover arena and perfectly epitomizing the brand’s strengths is the powerful Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro.

FIRST CONTACT
When I finally saw the Audi Q5 from close up, the first word that came to mind was “manly.” The front of the car really caught my eye, especially with its large grill and halo-like LED daytime running lights. The back DRLs were similarly eye-catching in red. More importantly, though, the Q5 also looks and feels large, making it a solid choice for urban gentlemen looking for a more adventurous ride.

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Despite its macho aura, the Q5 sports very clean and smooth lines with subtle curves, quite unlike most crossovers in its class. The overall effect is that of an elegant and rather pretty machine. This feel continues as I moved to the interior of the car.

The car’s large dimensions become even more apparent from the inside. Even my rather stout colleague who came along for the ride found that he had plenty of legroom, both up front and in the back. Moreover, the powered front seats were extremely comfortable, while the back seats were just as cozy for long trips.

Alas, the car I had the chance to test-drive came without some of the standard extra features like an SD card reader and smartphone connectivity. Audi’s vaunted GPS system was also nowhere to be seen, although the absence of this particular item is due to the lack of the requisite infrastructure in Indonesia. A shame, but understandable. Besides, the onboard multimedia system proved to be more than adequate to entertain me and my passengers during long rides. It turned out that I was listening to the brand’s very own Audi Concert audio system, instead of a Bang & Olufsen in-car set (which is available with higher trim options). But, again, the sound was clear and the bass notes reverberated firmly throughout the interior. The audio system—along with the car’s onboard computer, lighting options, etc.—is accessible from the center panel. The interface is, unfortunately, rather unintuitive; and in the age of dirt-cheap smartphones and tablets, the lack of a touch-screen display was a bit baffling. Still, it’s functional. It also helped that the Q5’s cabin does a fine job of keeping outside noises at bay and conveniently damped the powerful rumble of the car’s own engine.

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PEDAL TO THE METAL
While the Q5 is a fine exercise in subtle luxury, the selling point of any crossover worth its salt is lots of power along with top-notch performance even on rugged terrain. Long story short: I took an extended trip that involved a bit of semi off-roading, and the Q5 delivered.

Now, most cars this heavy would use larger engines to achieve acceptable mileage. Not so with the Q5, which putters along happily with its 2.0-liter engine. Of course, we’re talking about a turbocharged engine here. At around 4,000rpm, you can really feel the turbocharger kick in with a hefty power boost. Officially, the Q5 can go from zero to 100kph in a mere 5.9 seconds. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to really put the car through her paces, but speeding up to 160kph felt quick and smooth.

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The handling also felt smooth and natural—much more car-like than a full-fledged SUV, especially if you take the time to familiarize yourself with the various modes of operation available. By using the Drive

Select feature you can pick Auto, Comfort (which was surprisingly useful when navigating some of Jakarta’s more bumpy roads) and Dynamic (for long straight drives on toll ways).

 

“At around 4,000rpm, you can really feel the turbocharger kick in with a hefty power boost”

I was initially skeptical of Audi’s adaptive controls, but my brief time spent with the Q5 showed me otherwise. On Comfort, my wife and daughter occupying the backseat didn’t even notice the potholes and speed bumps I drove over. Using the Dynamic option, drivers can also shift gears manually, either by using the stick or paddle shifts on the steering wheel. Again, the acceleration felt silky smooth even during short bursts of speed to overtake other vehicles on the notoriously crowded Jagorawi toll road (bear in mind that this happened on a long weekend).

The icing on the Q5 cake was its fuel economy. Over the course of my intercity drive, the Q5 registered an average mileage of around 11l/100km. More than respectable, even bordering on excellent considering the Q5’s size.

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IS IT WORTH A BUY?
At first glance, the Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro isn’t exactly a “sexy” car; it doesn’t necessarily look like a-billion-plus crossover. Take it for a ride, though, and you’ll realize that the Q5 offers incredible power to satisfy the macho driver inside all of us, along with amazing comforts, plus enough bells and whistles to convince your paternal instincts. This is, above all else, a manly car for a family man.

SPECS: Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro
Engine:
Turbocharged Gas I4, 2.0L
Power: 225bhp
Transmission: 8 speed Tiptronic automatic transmission

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