Best of all is that this segment-topping fuel economy comes at essentially no cost in drivability. Yes, the 2.0T is a bit slower than its blistering-fast six-cylinder sibling, but 7.1 seconds from 0 to 60 mph is hardly sluggish and it's only 0.4 second behind the 3.2-liter. Because Audi's turbo four makes all of its 258 pound-feet of torque available at only 1500 rpm, the 8-speed automatic usually has to drop down only one gear for most on-the-move calls for acceleration, making the Q5 2.0T very responsive in real-world driving. In other respects, the driving 2.0T is pretty much a repeat of our experience with the six-cylinder Q5. This tall-boy crossover is an agile handler but at a cost of an occasionally stiff ride. And here, as in several other Audis, the steering is marred by too much variation in the level of power assist. The driver's environment is much the same, with leather again standard. This example was missing the optional navigation system that we had on our long-term Q5, but even without it, you get Audi's MMI multi-media controller, although it's in a slightly less convenient location on the dashboard rather than on the center console.
Audi has positioned the 2.0T as the base model, and at a starting price of $36,075, it's $7300 less expensive than the Q5 3.2. Appropriately, Audi is now playing up the performance aspect of the 3.2, by making the S-Line exterior package standard on that model and offering rolling stock as large as 20 inches, with summer performance tires.
Chalk up the Q5 as another success for Audi's ultra-versatile direct-injected turbo four. But this engine's greatest challenge still lies ahead: it's headed for the redesigned 2012 A6. We'll be interested to see if it continues to impress us as much as it did here.