2013 Audi Q5 2.0T
2013 Audi Q5 2.0T
2013 Audi Q5 2.0T. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Lesley Wimbush

Whenever I hear the word “Audi”, my inner voice subconsciously channels Arnold Schwarzenegger, those two syllables rolling off the tongue like some verbal manifestation of fragrant leather and fine German engineering.

It’s a word that’s come to represent well-crafted luxury backed up by Quattro agility – a system honed by years on the World Rally Championship circuit.

Smaller than the full-size Q7, and based on the A4 platform, the mid-size Audi Q5 strikes a nice balance between crossover and hatchback.  A late arrival to the small premium-ute segment, the Q5 has nevertheless established itself as a top player by offering a balanced blend of utility and luxury. Back for 2013 with very few exterior changes, the Q5 now offers an expanded range of engine offerings – which include a 3.0L supercharged V6 (which puzzlingly wears the “T” designation) and a new hybrid powertrain. European markets will also get a 3.0L turbodiesel version – there’s a very strong possibility that it will be available in Canada too, but that’s yet to be confirmed.

There’s an endless list of vehicles that cause the heart to race just a little bit faster. Mind you, not many of those inhabit the SUV or crossover categories (Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG being one exception).

The Q5 is no head-turner; instead, with its understated elegance, it could best be described as handsome.  My Q5 2.0T tester in lovely pewter grey is an exercise in subtlety with tasteful chrome brightwork. Reworked headlamps have become futuristic LED parallelograms rather than the twinkling eyelashes that have since become ubiquitous on everything from Smart to Lexus.  They frame a six-corner, vertically slatted grille that bisects an edgier front bumper.

Rather than making a definitive design statement, the Q5 projects an air of planted, Teutonic solidity that’s reassuring.

There are very few interior changes for 2013, and the cabin is exactly what you’d expect from Audi: not flashy but exceedingly well crafted.  Panels meet with tight gaps and surfaces not covered in premium leather are finished with soft touch materials.  The revised steering wheel is leather-wrapped – thick and grippy, it features contoured notches so the hands immediately find the correct positions.  Surprisingly – it’s not heated. Pity.

Centre stack is fairly straightforward, but most functions are controlled by Audi’s MMI user interface, which does have a bit of a learning curve. Even a simple climate control change will frustrate the newcomer, who’ll eventually learn that it’s accessed via the MMI’s large adjustable knob, and displayed on the info screen.  The cabin feels light and airy thanks to a huge panoramic sunroof, despite the rather sombre black colour scheme.

2013 Audi Q5 2.0T2013 Audi Q5 2.0T2013 Audi Q5 2.0T2013 Audi Q5 2.0T
2013 Audi Q5 2.0T. Click image to enlarge

Seating is plump and cushy and adjustable twelve ways.  There is an available Sport seat, but it’s part of the optional S Line package – which gives the Q5 a sportier character overall. The package includes exterior badging, 20-inch wheels, a flat-bottomed steering wheel with paddle shifters, and Audi Drive Select, allowing the driver to choose between Comfort and the more firm and responsive Dynamic mode.

The Q5 has a whole lot of a certain quality that I call “just-right-ness” – the ability to seamlessly integrate into the driver’s lifestyle with surprisingly little drama.

My tester’s Premium Plus trim level included Navigation, back-up camera and advanced Parking Assist.  This not only gives you a graphic overview of the vehicle and surroundings complete with audible proximity warnings – it also mutes the sound system until you’re finished reversing.  “You vill pay attention, jah?”

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