HIGH AND HAPPY (Audi Q5 3.0 TDI S line long term test month two)


FAMILIARITY is supposed to breed contempt, as my next-door neighbours will probably testify, but in the case of the Daytona Grey Audi Q5 sitting happily behind the house nothing could be further from the truth. In month one it covered enough miles to sail through the running-in period comfortably, and in month two the mileage has gone up in a yet-more dramatic fashion.

Invariably a family vehicle like this attracts more family duties, and once word has spread the phone begins to ring more frequently with tasks to be carried out. An overnight trip to the highlands of Fife provided the chance to put over 800 miles beneath the Q5’s wheels in a single hit, and also get a proper handle on what sort of economy it could muster.

It wasn’t just the distance to be travelled however, as on board were two passengers expecting to be chauffeured in comfort. No worries on that front however: the standard leather upholstery on the S line model meant my female passengers were as cocooned as they could wish for. The six-foot frame of the front seat occupant was easily accommodated while the slighter-built lady in the back had enough space to snooze horizontally for much of the M6.The climate-controlled cup holders are hardly an essential bit of kit but being able to cool and keep warm various drinks at the same time helped to keep my fatigue at bay.

With no great hurry to cover the distance the Q5 cruise-controlled its way along at a steady 75mph, the engine not even reaching 2,000rpm and noise levels reduced to a gentle thrum. Even before crossing the border the comprehensive trip computer was showing over 40mpg, and by the time it rolled back into home it had achieved a very impressive 46.2mpg. The total fuel bill was around £150: I’ve not looked at how much the equivalent train ticket would be for three people, but I know it’s considerably more than that.

Despite this impressive thrift I’ve not yet figured out a way for the Q5 to actually put money back into my pocket, and hence I’ve continued to explore the outer limits of economical driving on the way to work. Duking it out with the trucks in lane one is neither fun or fast, but hitting 53.2mpg for the 82-mile journey meant commuting costing less than £9 a day and put a smile on my face.

I’m hoping for more smiles in the coming months too. Despite the ridiculously-warm late autumn temperatures leaving me cursing, I’m still waiting patiently for the first signs of proper winter. Not that the Q5 doesn’t get on with summer of course – the dual-zone climate control takes care of that – but the lure of the heated seats and four-wheel drive means smugness comes as standard. Even on the beefy 19-inch summer tyres it would have good purchase on snow and ice, but a set of winter tyres would turn it into a proper unstoppable snow buster.

Even while the roads are merely damp, the combination of Quattro delivery and V6 diesel muscle has made for some entertaining cross-country dashes. With the S tronic gearbox shifting in a super-slick fashion and the engine well and truly freed up the performance is hilarious quick. At least a dozen so-called hot hatch drivers have found themselves watching the Q5’s rear disappear into the distance, and it does so with a pleasing multi-cylinder thrum.

Even without having ever switched off the ESP system the Q5 is grippy and capable through the bends too, and despite the unshakable fact that it is a relatively heavy car it never feels handicapped by its bulk and will duck and dive to follow a twisting road.

Despite the distance covered and the variety of roads travelled I still get the feeling that I’ve barely scratched the surface of the Q5’s ability. However, the next month could see the towing hitch and roof rails see some action, as well as it dipping its toes in mud or snow for the first time. Either way, the Q5 will be ready and able.

Audi Q5 3.0-TDI S line, £45,897.50 as tested

Engine: 3,0-litre diesel producing 237bhp and 368lb.ft of torque

Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic driving all four wheels

Performance: Top speed 146mph, 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds

Economy: 37.6 combined claimed, 53.2mpg best actual

Emissions: 199g/km of C02

Costs: None


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