Well, you do have to admire the attitude… Whilst my colleagues in the media remain determined to talk us all into ‘the forthcoming recession’ just because a pox of relentlessly greedy estate agents have had to give their Minis back and get proper jobs, Audi is having none of it.
At the recent 2008 Paris motor show, Audi obersturm gruppenfuhrer Rupert Stadler was asked how Audi is preparing for the financial crisis. His response was: ‘We’ve had a board meeting, discussed it thoroughly, and decided not to participate.’
Predictably, then, any suggestions that the introduction of the new Audi Q5 in the current climate is tantamount to re-arranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic have been swatted aside with the gently bullish rejoinder that Audi has never been interested in overheating any of the rapidly burgeoning number of market segments it occupies, and that they’ll undoubtedly sell every one they make.
And, having driven it, I suspect they’re right. Largely because the damned thing’s so bloody convincing.
Really? The Audi Q5 doesn’t look that enthralling…
True, but to those of us who find the my-God-it’s-moving-towards-us Q7 so preposterously gargantuan that it’ll never really look the part until Audi fits a gun turret on the roof, the Q5 represents a welcome return to sizing sanity.
Boasting beefed-up A4 architecture under the skin, the Q5 doesn’t look instantly off-road friendly in the manner of a Freelander or Volvo XC60, but then again, it doesn’t look utter cack like an X3 either. Oversized front grille aside (and, no, I’m never going to stop complaining about that), this is classic, safe, Audi styling simply left a tad longer on the party balloon pump.
What's the Q5 like inside?
On board, space afforded by the five-seat layout is considerably abetted by the cunning relocation of the drive differentials in front of the clutch, buying an extra 152mm of wheelbase. Astern, sensibly engineered lever systems make rear seat origami a doddle, and Audi has no plans to insert a Bangalore torpedo up the exhaust of the Q7 through the introduction of a seven-seat variant.
The driving position’s first class, and only marred by a constriction of the footwell aggressive enough to push your resting clutch foot rather too far to the right; the only downside to that differential relocation. Happily, this model’s fitted with Audi’s superb seven-speed DSG gearbox (which we must now call ‘S tronic’), but I wonder, in manual guise, just how much room there would be for three pedals and two feet….
The tidy, A4 sourced dashboard is elegantly oriented towards the driver, and loaded with good stuff, including an extremely trick sat-nav which not only gives you topography in something akin to 3D, but also affords views of major cities’ landmark buildings in remarkable detail. Zoom in on Paris, for instance, and you can actually see blokes scrambling about on the Eiffel Tower’s steelwork with paint brushes. OK, I lied about that, but it’s still a nice conceit.