2022 Audi Q5 Sportback S Line 45 TFSI Quattro – Review by David Colman
A Study in Incongruity
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Audi's latest compact SUV continues the brand's long-standing emphasis on genteel refinement. Visualize VW's Tiguan fitted with a Hugo Boss tuxedo and you've got a Q5 Audi. Just don't forget to just about double the $37,790 price of the VW, because the Q5 we test drove priced out at $61,905. While the base price of the Audi commences at a reasonable $48,400, by the time you've added the niceties provided by the $8,700 "Prestige Package" and the $2,500 "Black Optic Sport package," you've blasted into BMW/Mercedes territory.
The Prestige package adds no less than 24 separate refinements that effectively turn a VW into an Audi. Chief among them are a sensational Bang & Olufsen sound system "with 3D sound," a heated and cooled pair of front cup holders that proved unbeatably nifty on a 92 degree day, and a Navigation system that works in consort with Audi's "Virtual Cockpit" (also part of this package) to present spectacular Google Earth images on the crystal clear 10.1 inch MMI (multi- media interface) touchscreen.
The Black Optic package includes some very appealing aluminum rhombus inlays which are scattered through the interior surfaces of the Q5's cabin. More importantly, your $2,500 outlay replaces the Q5's standard 19 inch alloy rims with a set of 21 inch, "5 double spoke module design wheels" mounting Pirelli P Zero rubber (255/40R21). These Pirellis carry a super soft treadwear rating of TW220 and a traction rating of AA. The sport package is thus rather a bargain, since it also upgrades the suspension system to "sport" specification. If you twist the drive mode of the sport-spec Q5 to the "Dynamic" setting, this agile Audi handles more like an Audi TT sports car than an SUV. Best of all, once you select Dynamic mode, it remains pre-set every time you restart the Q5.
Like BMW, Audi delights in appending mysterious descriptive titles to their products. In the case of our Q5, the nomenclature translates thusly: "Sportback" refers to the reduced height of the rear roofline compared to a standard Q5; "S Line" defines a visually refined trim level similar to VW's "R Line"; "45" is one of several numerical designations (40/45/55PHEV) that define the Q5's engine specification (our test model's "45" translates to an inline 4 producing 261hp/273lb.-ft. of torque ); TFSI (Turbo Fuel Stratified Injection) refers to the intercooled/turbocharged intake system of our test car; "Quattro" is Audi's pioneering all-wheel-drive system which came into vogue in the early 1980s. Quattro predates and out-performs most other AWD systems offered today.
On a back road run from Stinson Beach to Point Reyes Station and Petaluma, our fully optioned Q5 quickly proved its mettle. Audi's Q-ship made short work of the few legal passing opportunities on this drive. With a 0-60mph capability of 5.5 seconds, and a quarter mile time of 14.2 seconds at 97mph, the Audi proved that while it may share an inline 4 with VW's Tiguan, the Audi's "45" tune level gives you 77hp and 52lb.-ft. of torque more than the VW. These differences put the quick Q5 in a different league altogether from any other compact SUV marketed by VW.
However, the Audi shares enough common componentry with the Tiguan to make you wonder where all the extra expense went. For example, the Q5's 7-speed S-Tronic transmission utilizes the same cheap-feeling, tiny plastic paddle shifts you'd find in any bargain priced Tiguan. And although the Premium Package listed a "Power Adjusted Steering Column," our Audi was fitted with a manual adjust unit that seemed completely out of keeping for a vehicle in this price range.
Since Audi has assigned construction of the Q5 to their assembly facility in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico, there's precious little about this SUV - aside from its design - that is German. In fact, the engine is now built in Mexico, and 76% of the Q5's parts come from Mexico as well. Only the transmission is still of German origin. While the Audi's construction quality seemed sound, there was nothing about its interior that felt in any way lavish or extravagant. In fact, the fully optioned Q5 lags behind much less expensive SUV competitors from South Korea, like Hyundai and Kia, in both price and functionality.
2022 AUDI Q5 SPORTBACK S LINE 45 TFSI QUATTRO
ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4, intercooled and turbocharged
HORSEPOWER: 262hp@5000rpm TORQUE: 273lb.-ft.@1600rpm
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 23MPG City/28MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $61,905
HYPES: Quick, handsome and Practical
GRIPES: Value Shortfall
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10