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Review

Game on (Audi Q5 3.0 TDI long-term test part four) car review

20/02/12

ASK and you shall receive Stevie Jacks. The last report on this Audi Q5 long-termer caught the very last of what could be described as a very British summer, which is hardly a stern test for a car with four-wheel drive, a grunty diesel engine and the kind of clever electronic safety nets that the German marque seem to do very well. That led my Internet friend Stevie to suggest I was some kind of 'you know what' for not giving the Q5 a proper test.

But in the short space of a month the Q5 has been fitted with winter tyres which have happily coincided with some of the coldest weather this country has seen in years, and the need to cross the country in varying directions has not let up in the slightest. Game on, as they say.

A quick trip to a friendly local dealer got the Q5 up and running on some prime winter rubber. It meant a switch to a smaller size of alloy wheel which did detract a little from its confident stance, but it is still running on 17-inchers which somehow look right with the aggressive tread pattern. The first couple of weeks running were met with wet rather than cold weather, but that's good news too; with more channels to squeeze out the water, big puddles and sodden roads were despatched with complete ease.

And then the chaos came, because for some reason in this country the word 'snow' can only be used if it is immediately followed by the word 'chaos'. For two weeks the Q5's temperature gauge has not registered more than +4.0 degress Celcius, with a seasonal low of -5.0. And apart from the amount of chiselling required before setting off, from the driver's seat there was very little to indicate that the roads were anything other than slightly less grippy; what little compromise there was dynamically over summer rubber was negligible.

When the snow finally arrived I had to think up numerous reasons why I needed to be out on the road rather than tucked safely up at home, and just as hoped the Q5 got stuck into the freshly-fallen stuff as if its life depended on it. It was hard to overcome the initial delicacy that normally applies when driving on snow, and it took quite a bit of provocation – much more than you would normally dream of applying in those kind of conditions – before the tyres eventually relinquished their grip. If overtaking in the snow wasn't a hideously dangerous and anti-social piece of driving the Q5 would have despatched every other car on the road with ease.

The plummeting mercury has also shone some bright lights on other aspects of the Q5 too. The heated seats have become worth every single penny, going from nought to toasty in under two minutes while that giant washer bottle that takes almost as long to fill as the fuel tank has kept the view out crystal clear.

The trickier conditions have also helped keep the fuel economy up. With all that power and torque to play with it can be a challenge to use a sensible right foot, but with everyone driving at crawling pace it has regularly been clocking over 40 miles per gallon – not bad at all for such a big beast.

The back seats have been folded on numerous occasions in the last couple of weeks too. Another house move has seen the back loaded up with a king-sized bed (dismantled first of course) a dishwasher, a cross-trainer and a sizeable TV. At times like these I wish I’d specified some rubber mats for the boot rather than carpet but even that isn’t really showing any wear from its duties.

Being a modern-day neglectful motorist it also took the Audi to remind me that the oil needed topping up. A quick visit to the spanking-new Bristol Audi centre had me back on my way in 15 minutes – a shame it wasn’t longer as the luxurious showroom is a far more pleasant place to be than the office… Now all that’s left to do to keep Stevie Jacks happy is to get the Q5 into some seriously tricky off-roading. I need to ask Audi very nicely if they mind me putting their £45k car up to its axles in mud, but I’ll suspect they’ll be up for it. And then you can be as convinced as I am that this car, particularly with this engine and gearbox combination, can tackle pretty much anything.

FACTS AT A GLANCE 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: 37.6mpg combined claimed, 53.2mpg best actual Emissions: 199g/km of C02 Costs: Oil top up £15

  • Enginesdiesel
  • Power4 (higher than average performance)
  • 0-60 mph
  • Economy3 (average fuel economy)
  • CO2g/km
  • Insurance groups2 (higher than average costs)
  • Airbags
  • Seats5

Motors.co.uk value verdict:    stars

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