German manufacturers keep expanding their diesel offerings – and we should thank them for setting an example to be emulated! The most recent addition to the compression-ignition set is the Audi Q5 3.0 TDI.
Audi’s smallest CUV received a mild makeover for the 2013 model year and for 2014 the big news is the availability of a new a diesel engine. And it’s a treat.
Amazing fuel economy
The 2014 Q5 with the latest generation 3.0-litre V-6 turbocharged diesel piles on the kilometres with effortless grace, leaving a smile on your face and fuel stations in the rear-view mirror.
Over several-hundred kilometres of mixed conditions I averaged 6.7 litres/100 km in this roomy and relatively heavy vehicle, with four people aboard and the cargo compartment full. And with no alteration of my driving habits to conserve fuel.
This new engine will be shared with a variety of Audi and VW products. Modern technology means it's one of the "strong and silent" types, providing exemplary performance.
In this case, torque peaks at only 1,750 rpm. The Q5's eight-speed automatic transmission ensures you are never more than a few hundred rpm from maximum thrust, making this the virtual definition of effortless performance.
Combined with amazing fuel economy, it makes for a mighty attractive ride!
Four available engines
The Q5 is available with four different engines. The base unit is the corporate (VW/Audi) 2.0-litre turbocharged four, one of my favorites in its own right, producing 220-horsepower in this application.
Next up is a 3.0-litre V-6 with 272-horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The diesel’s 240-horsepower and 6.7-second 0-to-100 km/h numbers put it between the other two in acceleration, but its 428 lb-ft of torque and impressively-low fuel consumption numbers give it a clear edge overall.
If saving fuel and minimizing emissions are top of mind for you, there is also a hybrid version of the Q5 available.
A run through the specifications reveals the degree of engineering that goes into these products, from the slightly different final drive ratios for each engine to the fact the diesel has bigger ventilated brakes front and rear than the others.
All share the same eight-speed automatic, Audi’s excellent Quatrro all-wheel-drive system and a new electric power steering system.
Refinement to the fore
Looking beyond the powertrain, we can see why the Q5 leads the pack in sales. This is a refined, well thought-out vehicle with Audi quality and style at the forefront.
Three-zone automatic climate control allows the rear seat occupants to control their own environment. They also get heated seats, while those up front are both heated and ventilated.
The Q5 is available with a variety of trim options. My tester had supple Milano leather in a dark brown shade, which helped to counter the seriousness of the otherwise black (inside and out) vehicle.
Another nice touch was the dark ash wood trim. Also on the "lighten up" list was a heated and cooled cup holder.The centre armrest can be adjusted for height and angle for those who like to rest their elbow.
The usual Audi level of fit, finish and design detail is evident throughout. The steering wheel is agreeably thick and the instrument cluster highly legible and glare-free day and night.
Functional as well
The front seats are supportive and infinitely adjustable, the rears more spacious than you’d think from the outside. The sloping roofline makes it necessary to duck when getting into and out of the rear seat.
It also reduces visibility to the rear – something that can be addressed by the use of the rear view cameras. But as an option – Really? – in a $50,000 vehicle?
The cargo compartment is easily accessed and the floor flat with recessed cargo tie-down hooks. You can fold down the 60/40 split rear seats via a lever at their side or one accessible from the rear. They don't fold completely flat however.
The Q5 received a facelift and revised suspension last year. With the addition of the new diesel engine for 2014, it becomes one of the most fuel efficient vehicles of any type – let alone one offering this much space, utility and style.