Used Car Review: 2011 Audi Q5 2.0T FSI Quattro S-Tronic

Ageless styling with performance to trouble hot hatchbacks.

The first generation Audi Q5 set the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons when it was introduced to the local marketplace in 2009. High equipment levels, dynamic driving characteristics and class-leading levels of refinement mated to gutsy petrol- and diesel-powered engines made for an effortless open-road cruiser and highway bruiser. Sweeping lines, elegant curves and typical Bauhaus styling cues were favourably met with about 11,000 Q5s finding homes in South Africa.

It was the second Audi SUV model in to land here, following on from the success of the large-and-in-charge Q7. Now in its second generation, the Q5’s popularity continues to grow on its predecessors’ charms. Demand for the first-generation model – the subject of this review – now offers even better value for your money.

The Audi Q5 (code name Type 8R) was released alongside the mighty popular Audi A4 (B8-series) and A5 on the same Audi MLB chassis platform. Hailed for its comfort, dynamic handling traits, this platform could easily rank as one of the best ever to be created by the Ingolstadt firm. To back those bold words, the MLB platform also served as the basis for the Audi A6, Audi A7, Audi A8, Porsche Macan and more recently the second-generations of Audi Q7 and Q5 (on the updated MLBevo platform).

Introduced in 2009 on local shores, the range was made up of four engine units with two petrol- and diesel-powered choices: a 2.0T FSI (in two states of tune: 132kW and 155kW) and 3.2 FSI (199kW) petrol models and the diesel units on offer were 2.0TDI (in 105kW and 125kW tunes) and 3.0TDI (177kW) engines. The Q5 was facelifted in 2012 with minor interior and exterior styling updates, but the most juicy upgrades came to the engines: the 3.2 FSI V6 was replaced with a forced-induction 3.0T and the 2.0T FSI (155kW) unit was uprated to 165kW.

All models were equipped with Quattro all-wheel drive for true confidence in every situation on any road. These were mated with three transmission options: an S-Tronic 7-speed automatic, 6-speed manual gearboxes and an 8-speed Tiptronic. More than 85 percent of models were equipped with the S-Tronic tranmission, with a handful number of buyers opting for the manual version. The lusty 3.0TDI model was offered only with the Tiptronic system.

There’s nothing better than an Audi cabin. The Q5’s interior was heavily reliant on its A4 and A5 stablemates for parts, controls and equipment making the most of the highest quality materials, and a beautiful soft-touch dashboard. The number of cows that perished for those leather interiors must have ranked in their thousands, for the Q5’s upholstery was only offered in luxurious leather. Audi’s now ubiquitous MMI (Multi Media Interface) technology sat on the centre console with pride. A digital interface’s system featured navigation, communication, on-board computer functions and entertainment systems. SD card slots, Bluetooth, and AUX inputs were offered, with USB joining the list after the 2012 face-lift (as well as an uprated digital interface display).

Of course, S Line packages were also offered as well an Off-Road Package. The S Line kit included 20-inch alloy wheels, sports steering wheel, brushed aluminium inlays, S line aluminium door sills, and a black headliner. The Off-Road exterior package included front and rear underbody protection panels, along with flared fender and door sill protection.

The standard items equipped were electrically-operated windows and exterior mirrors; electrochromic rearview mirror; aircon with climate control; remote central locking; cruise control; daytime driving lights; foglights; automatic headlights and windscreen wiper function; multifunction steering wheel controls; ISOFIX mounts; PDC front and rear; manual aircon for rear seat passengers.

Interestingly, the Q5 was offered with Run-Flat tyres. Some owners specced theirs with space-saver spare wheels, however. For Run-Flat equipped Q5s, an air compressor and tyre plugging kit was installed.

The adventure-fuelled buyers will also have learned that optioning their Q5 with the roof racks would prove handy. With ESP sensors mounted in the roof rack (honestly), when it detected roof racks installed, the centre of gravity of the car shifted higher. This meant the ESP would engage earlier. Without roof racks in place, the full performance of the Q5 could be unleashed.

This vehicle can also tow up to 750kg unbraked mass and 2,000kg braked mass. Hill Descent Control works tidily to keep the car at a steady 30km/h on steep hills.

Service intervals are set at 15,000km or need to be completed annually. The dashboard warning light will indicated this information, as well as the condition of the brake pads and discs and engine oil level.

And this particular one?

This 2011 model Q5 2.0T FSI Quattro S-Tronic drives with confidence on any road surface that belie its 119,000km life. It is equipped with all the standard safety systems, and includes an headlight washing system; stowable and detachable towbar; Run-Flat Tyre system; roof racks; cruise control; Xenon headlights; LED daytime driving lights; PDC front and rear; 19-inch alloy wheels; Audi Concert audio upgraded system; multifunction steering wheel controls with sports paddle shifting controls; and a full service history with Audi dealerships.

Mash the accelerator pedal to the floor, and the Q5 lurches forward with anger. It is responsive, surprisingly agile and comfortable over any road surface. Wind noise is minimal and interior squeaks and creaks are absent – there’s that German build quality that places this vehicle in the premium segment. The fuel gauge does move from Full to Empty with enthusiasm, and we averaged a rather heady 11.2-litres/100km throughout our test period. On a fuel cycle test route of 100km, we did see that figure drop slightly to 10.3-litres/100km. However, behind the steering wheel and in the comfort leather seats, the power underfoot and the luxury surrounding you, you’ll also forgive the Q5’s thirstiness.

The rear luggage compartment is fantastically wide and deep, and it can easily swallow a week-long family roadtrip’s luggage. This one is fitted with the electronic boot closing system, but a simple grab of the bootlid to gently close the door was never a discomfort.

Rear seating space proved helpful when carrying 5 adults on a journey, with none complaining of cramped knees or necks, and space enough to enjoy their time in this Audi. The centre console is clearly and easily navigated, with controls falling easily to hand. Why modern vehicles don’t keep it as ergonomically simple as an Audi cabin is beyond my logic…

This vehicle is in excellent condition overall and our AA/Dekra 101-point road test provided the paperwork to back up this car’s driving manners. This is a rare, unmolested beauty that has been cared for throughout its 119,000km.

What to look out for on Audi Q5s?

This particular Audi’s 2.0T engine is troublesome. A quick Google search will turn up horror stories of Q5s riddled with extreme engine oil consumption. Reportedly, some 2 percent of engines produced between 2009 and 2011 were afflicted with what is a manufacturing fault. The cylinder liners had to replaced, and this is a costly exercise. Under warranty, this was rectified to afflicted engines. This particular vehicle – once it ticked over the mileage for its Factory Warranty – began burning a litre of oil every 500km. An Audi dealership performed oil consumption tests, ran through Audi’s protocol for repairing this problem, and it needed to be rebuilt. Some 10,000km after the workshop’s magic spanners performed their miracles, this Q5 now uses not a drop extra of oil. This was backed up by a 1-year workshop warranty, and over that period no visit to the workshop was required.

If there is some creaking from the suspension, it is most likely worn ball-joints. Due to this vehicle’s urban life, speed bumps wear out the rubbers quicker than usual. Worn ball-joints will make a Q5’s steering feel vague: this is a sharp-steerer by nature and if it doesn’t feel agile through a set of corners, the ball-joints are most likely the culprits.

Apart from the propensity to burn oil, and fuel, the Audi Q5 has no major flaws to report on. JD Powers and Consumer Reports (both international consumer-centric programs) found no problems with this model in terms of customer satisfaction in their exhaustive research. It is a testament once more to that German build quality.

What should I be paying for this Audi Q5?

An excellent example will easily fetch R200,000 on the second-hand car market at a reputable dealership. One in this condition as tested is available for R199,900, a price that offers value for money with reasonably low mileage. Vehicles with far higher mileage and the same year model are available from R162,500. However, the condition and service history might not be as complete as this one here. If you can find one with less than 130,000km under R190,000 you’ll be doing rather well in your car shopping.

Which other Audi Q5 models should I consider?

For performance, there’s only one: this 2.0T FSI engine is the pick of the bunch. It offers strong acceleration, reasonable fuel economy and great comfort. If pressed, the 2.0TDI would be a wise buy but I’d miss that punch from the petrol engine. Also, the petrol models on offer at dealerships and privately advertised today offer lower mileages for the same model years.

What are the alternative choices?

The standard SUV on our roads is the BMW X3. Similarly sized, similarly specced, the X3 carries a slightly higher price for the same year model, mileage and condition. The Volvo XC60, Mazda CX-5, the Volkswagen Tiguan all fight for the same slice of the SUV pie too, and each has a strong case for your money.

Conclusion

The Q5 might be old on our roads now, but it hasn’t aged. It is as desirable today as it was when it first appeared in 2009. With Audi’s exemplary build quality, age doesn’t really play as big as role in a vehicle’s overall condition any longer. For a mid-sized SUV, with the 2.0T FSI engine, reasonably low mileage, this Q5 shouldn’t be parked at the dealership but rather outside your home.

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