2009 Audi Q5

David Gluckman
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2009 Audi Q5

Audi will unveil its second crossover SUV at the 2008 Beijing auto show. The idea for the Q5 is pretty simple, think Q7 but smaller.

Only one engine and transmission combination will be offered in the U.S. - Audi's 3.2-liter FSI V-6 engine mated to a six-speed Tiptronic transmission. The engine is direct injected and produces 270 hp and 243 lb-ft, which Audi estimates will propel the Q5 from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. Contrary to earlier reports, Audi's new seven-speed S tronic (DSG) transmission will not be offered. All Q5s will use a rear-biased Quattro all-wheel-drive system with a 40/60 torque split turning either standard 18-inch wheels or optional 20-inchers.

Exterior styling is, not surprisingly, very similar to the larger Q7's - we can see the same athletic stance and overall profile. That said, we can't help but notice some visual similarities to Volkswagen's smaller Tiguan SUV. Audi has avoided using a roof joint strip, the seam found on many vehicles where the roof panel meets the body sides. The company says this helps to reduce wind noise while improving the Q5's appearance. For those looking to see and be seen, Audi will offer Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights as an option. LED taillights, reminiscent of other Audis of late, are standard.

The interior is much the same story and has the familiar Audi feel with maybe a bit less of the visual flow we admire on the A4 and A5. Seating is available for five with 19 cubic feet of cargo space which can be expanded to 55 cubic feet with the rear seats down. Options include a power liftgate; heated and cooled cup holders; tri-zone climate control; and a blind-spot monitoring system. An eight-speaker stereo is standard while a 505-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen system will be an option. Bluetooth and iPod connectivity are also available. The Q5 will be the first Audi to use the new, third-generation MMI infotainment system with navigation and real-time traffic information.

Audi lists key competitors as the BMW X3, the Infiniti EX35, the Land Rover LR2, the Lexus RX350, and the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and Volvo XC60. As we've said before, this market is getting very crowded very quickly. We'll see how well the Q5 stands up to that crowd after it goes on sale in the first quarter of 2009.

What comes after Q5? Q3 of course. Audi is working from the top down to fill out its crossover SUV line and will tackle its own version of the VW Tiguan next. A Q1 is also rumored to be in the pipeline.

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