2009 Audi Q5

Automobile Magazine has just driven the all-new, 2009 Audi Q5, a vehicle that made its world debut this past April at the Beijing auto show and which is Audi's answer to the BMW X3. The Q5 is the latest luxury entry in the small crossover SUV market segment that has grown rapidly in recent years and which is expected to continue expanding as more and more Americans ditch their full-size SUVs for smaller crossovers that drive better, achieve better fuel economy, and yet retain many of the utility and all-weather features of traditional SUVs. While vehicles as myriad as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Saturn Vue, and Hyundai Santa Fe serve the mainstream part of this market segment, the 2009 Audi Q5 joins the likes of the BMW X3, the Acura RDX, and the Land Rover LR2 in serving the luxury slice of the small-crossover segment. When it goes on sale here in February or March of 2009, it will also be joined by the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLK and the all-new Volvo XC60. Like those vehicles, the Q5 attempts to let its drivers have it all: attractive, modern styling; a powerful but efficient drivetrain; a luxurious, versatile interior; a full complement of safety equipment; and a sporty driving experience. Now that we've driven the U.S.-spec version of the 2009 Q5 in Valencia, Spain, let's see how successful Audi was in meeting those goals.

Not just another pretty face.

To our eyes, the Q5 is a very handsome, even pretty, vehicle, with good proportions and exquisite detailing in items like the LED headlights and taillamps. Audi's modern, so-called shield grille dominates the front-end styling, and it makes for a very attractive face. In America, the Q5 will be offered exclusively with a full chrome treatment for the grille, whereas in other markets it is available in glossy black and matte gray guise as well. The European market also is offered an off-road styling package with polished front scuff plates, but at launch, Audi of America will not offer that here. Eighteen-, nineteen-, and twenty-inch wheels will be offered, and all of them are attractive, save for a twenty-inch chrome wheel (twenty-inch aluminum are also available).

In Spain, where Audi enjoys a higher luxury-brand awareness and regard than BMW and Mercedes-Benz (so claims Audi) and where Audi A3s and A4s are a very common site, people on the streets of Valencia took favorable notice of the Q5. We expect that Americans will like it, as well.

Step in, sit down, enjoy.

Anyone who has sat inside the 2009 Audi Q5's big brother, the Q7, or for that matter in the new, 2009 Audi A4 or Audi's flagship, the R8 supercoupe, will instantly recognize the Q5's interior design theme, instrument panel, and controls. As in all contemporary Audi models, the Q5's interior is beautifully rendered in quality plastics, supple leather, and precisely engineered controls. It's a very pleasant place to be.

For the U.S. market, many features will of course be standard, such as power seats, windows, and locks; leather upholstery, a ten-speaker stereo, 60/40-split rear seats that recline and also slide fore and aft by four inches; and a new-and-improved version of Audi's MMI, or Multi-Media Interface, system that controls climate, radio, and navigation functions through a central knob and a display screen.

Audi of America plans two major options packages plus a number of stand-alone options.

The first options package will include bi-xenon headlights and a power-operated tailgate, among other items. (Cornering headlights will not be offered.)

The second options package will offer keyless start, a blind-spot detection system, nineteen-inch wheels, and a 14-speaker, 504-watt, Bang & Olufsen stereo system.

Among the stand-alone options are:

  • An all-new navigation system, bundled with a rearview camera, that is likely to cost about $2400;
  • A panoramic sunroof, which Audi claims is the biggest in the segment;
  • The aforementioned Bang & Olufsen stereo, which will probably cost about $1000;
  • An S Line exterior appearance package, which includes twenty-inch wheels;
  • The aforementioned twenty-inch chrome wheels;
  • Adaptive cruise control;
  • Audi Drive Select, which allows the driver to choose among three levels of tuning for three dynamic parameters: powertrain, suspension, and steering. This option is likely to cost close to $3000; more details on it are below.

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