2014 Audi Q5 TDI Technik
2014 Audi Q5 TDI Technik
2014 Audi Q5 TDI Technik. Click image to enlarge

Review and Photos by Jeff Wilson

Every once in a while, despite best intentions, life takes you down a path that doesn’t quite turn out as planned. That’s exactly what happened to our 2014 Audi Q5 test car recently, a car universally loved by the Autos.ca team.

Due diligence was done and a sensible test circuit around some of the most scenic parts of rural Niagara was prepared; designed to get a sense of the Audi’s on-road capabilities in everyday life. Alas, the innocuous-looking gravel road selected to give a glimpse of how the Q5 would handle some simple cottage roads quickly became a gauntlet of sticky muck and mystery-depth puddles determined to swallow expensive 20” wheels whole. Lesson learned: don’t always believe what you see in Google Street View.

As is the case with so many situations in life, this unexpected foray into the Q5’s real off-road prowess required a bear-down-and-commit attitude, even if the car – and its driver – were a little out of their elements.

The little Audi’s suspension setup, big, spidery wheels, and tires befitting a sport sedan more than an off-road mudder, provide impressive on-pavement performance. Handling along nicely paved ribbons of road undulating and slinking through Niagara’s wine country is impressively composed, especially for a tall hatchback like this. Indeed, the stiffness and corner carving are reminiscent of Audi’s A4 sport sedan and provide solid, surefooted grip to navigate around trouble.

At least that’s the case when the roads are indeed paved and driver is paying careful attention to the changing surface conditions before it’s too late. But it’s the Audi’s impressive on-road prowess that makes it all the more impressive that the Q5 did not find itself entirely mired in hub-deep muck when travelling that cursed side road.

The worse the road conditions got, the more surprisingly capable the Q5 proved to be in spite of its first impressions. Threat of sinking in? Apply more throttle and let Audi’s magnificent Quattro all-wheel-drive system sort it out. More speed and whiter knuckles on the driver also equal a more thrilling ride through the bog with some alarming jigs and directional changes thrown in to cause some real pucker moments. Although tautly sprung, the adaptive dampers (part of the optional S-Line Select Package) helped keep the once-shiny side up. In the end though, the Audi made it through nearly a kilometre of nastiness the designers in Ingolstadt surely never intended it to ever see.

At this point, the Q5 convincingly transformed its own image from a suburbanite around-town grocery getter for well-to-do moms, to something far more masculine. One muddy trip and it’s as if the little Audi grew chest hair and a deeper voice.

2014 Audi Q5 TDI Technik2014 Audi Q5 TDI Technik
2014 Audi Q5 TDI Technik. Click image to enlarge

That deeper voice part comes from a more gruff sounding diesel engine fitted to this little rig. Where Mercedes-Benz’s new GLK 250 BlueTec makes do with a four-pot diesel, Audi has taken the same stellar 3.0L V6 diesel mill from the larger Audi Q7 (and Porsche Cayennen Diesel, if we’re looking for bragging rights) and stuffed it into the Q5.

The results are nothing short of sensational. Fully 428 stump-pulling lb-ft of torque are on call from 1,750 rpm through 2,250 rpm ensuring that motivation is always completely effortless. That the horsepower rating of 240 is 32 ponies shy of the gasoline V6 Q5 is completely moot since Audi rates 0-100 km /h times for each at less than 7 seconds (6.2 for the gas, 6.7 for the diesel). What that figure does not reveal on paper, however, is how boldly the Q5 oil burner zips around town, making it honestly a lot of fun to drive.

If a Q5 purchase is in your near future, there is no excuse to buy any model other than the TDI. The Hybrid model also offered provides marginally better city fuel consumption (8.6 L/100 km versus the diesel’s 9.0) but worse highway consumption (6.9 hybrid, 6.4 diesel), and costs considerably more. The two gas-powered Q5s are nowhere near as efficient and don’t offer the same wallop of torque that the diesel does. This engine (and the excellent eight-speed automatic) were made for this application. Then again, the SQ5 is a wholly different beast.

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