2009 Audi Q5
2009 Audi Q5. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by James Bergeron

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2009 Audi Q5

Sebring, Florida – They say when in Rome… well, when in Florida, do as the Floridians do. I’m not actually sure what Floridians do, though, except perhaps drive extremely slowly on perfectly flat highways that have been repaved because they have the slightest bit of wear on them. I did drink quite a lot of orange juice while in Florida, but oddly enough, unlike other “local” foods, it didn’t really taste any fresher.

You would think heading to Orlando and Sebring, Florida during spring break, the most obvious destination would be the beaches, but instead I was where any race fan should be: the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race.

The goal? To test drive the new Audi Q5 mid-size crossover (starting at $43,400) and the diesel-powered Q7 TDI (starting at $57,700). Upon my arrival in Florida, I was greeted by a gorgeous line-up of Q5s and Q7 TDIs, and a nice warm Florida sun to warm myself and other members of the Canadian press. The Q5, new for 2009, is a mini Q7, if you will, and a direct competitor to other smaller five-passenger crossovers like the BMW X3, Acura RDX, and Infiniti EX35.

2009 Audi Q5
2009 Audi Q5
2009 Audi Q5. Click image to enlarge

The Q5 is based on the Audi B8 chassis, a platform shared with the A4/S4 and the A5/S5 models. One would expect the crossover version to be larger than the sedan or wagon, but this is not the case with the Q5: the A4 Sedan and A4 Avant (wagon body style) are 4702 mm in total length while the Q5 is 4629 mm long. The Q5 is wider though, at 1880 mm vs 1825 mm, which results in more shoulder room in the cabin and an overall more spacious feeling to the interior.

The Q5 is available in two configurations – Standard and Premium. Both come extremely well-equipped, starting with their standard 3.2-litre V6 engine with FSI Direct Injection. This engine produces a hefty 270 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque, and moves the 1,895-kg vehicle easily and with authority when needed. Standard fare is quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission.

As you would expect with an Audi, safety is a priority, and the Q5’s standard active and passive safety features are impressive: ABS (anti-lock brakes), EBD (electronic brake differential) and ESP (electronic stabilization program) are some of the active safety features, while a slew of airbags including driver and front passenger dual-stage airbags, dual front seat-mounted side airbags and curtain airbags (and optional rear side airbags) provide standard passive safety.

The high quality of the Q5’s interior is typical of Audi; those who are familiar with the brand will feel right at home. Audi has redone some aspects of the interior including the MMI (Multi Media Interface) system, but I do still have some gripes about it: the Q5 I drove had the controls on the centre stack while the Q7 I drove at this same event had the same controls on the console. The console controls were easy to reach but hard to operate without looking down at them. The centre stack control location in the Q5 was a little harder to reach although slightly easier to operate without looking. One large control knob or a touch screen would make all the difference here, as I found myself constantly wandering in my lane as I attempted to change radio settings.

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