By Mthuthuzeli Mpiti*
How quickly that special weekend flew by! Audi Southern Africa’s was running a competition on the introduction of the all new Audi Q5, and I submitted my entry form responding to how I define adventure and my most recent adventure. I was one of the lucky winners. The prize was a weekend away in the new Audi Q5. To be honest, I was expecting a normal Q5 and to my surprise, an SQ5 rocked up. From that very moment I realized that Audi is full of surprises. I could not believe that I was actually in possession of a 260 kW machine from Ingolstadt.
I made sure I that threw in my bags into its massive boot space almost as quickly as 5.4s, the car’s claimed sprint to 100km/h from standstill. This is a bit of a departure from the previous generation SQ5 that was offered in diesel only in our shores. It’s now powered by a 3.0TFSI V6 petrol engine. This engine makes all sorts of pops and cracks on gearshift, which in turn sends naughty smiles in the little petrol head rascal that is me. My route was already pre-planned, and I was to take the scenic Clarence Drive (R44) passing Gordon’s Bay and all I could think about was whether I could tame this beast, as my route had some interesting twisties.
But how does it drive you wonder? With quattro, it means the SQ5 planted into the tarmac with zero wheel spin. Inclines are taken with less effort because 500Nm of torque available. I was cruising on comfort mode but by default, I engaged Dynamic Mode which is basically Sport mode when you are kind of late for the school run. I kid you not, when you are in Dynamic Mode, an animal gets unleashed. The 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox ensures a smooth gearshift but you will feel as if you are at odds with Cape gale force winds when you are in Dynamic Mode as you engage a bit of gas. I had to constantly remind myself that I’m on a public road and jail speeds are easily achievable here and it would be disrespectful and dangerous to fellow road users if I did what is reserved for the controlled track conditions on public roads.
Inside, the SQ5 was fitted with Virtual Cockpit with navigation which made finding my destination, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, quite easy. Build quality is unmistakable with Audi, and demonstrates greatness in every detail. Adventure comes standard when you are in such an impressively crafted environment with attention to detail.
You might be asking yourself how much does she cost. The SQ5 is priced from R1,056,923.80, naturally you might think that is a steep asking price but she is no ordinary compact luxury SUV and is actually competitively priced against fellow German rivals in the form of BMW X3 M40i and Mercedes-Benz GLC43 AMG.
My test SQ5 came with an optional glass panoramic roof that covers most of the roof, making sure you get all the light and views of the sky you need to connect with Mother Nature. You can close the panoramic roof with a curtain close if the sun becomes too much, at just a press of a button. Exterior mirrors are electrically adjustable, heated and fold electrically. Anodised roof rails come standard as do powered seats. If you want them to remember your last seating position and automatically adjust accordingly, that comes at a price.
Other optional features include matrix LED headlights with dynamic turn signals, Virtual Cockpit with Navigation, MMI Navigation, matt brushed aluminium dashboard inlays, door sill trims with aluminium inlays, illuminated S rhombus emblem and a sport contour leather steering wheel with a 3-spoke design.
The craftsmanship is impressive in the SQ5. The gear lever selector made me think I was flying some special Lufthansa bird every time I touched it to select drive or engage reverse. What amused me is how by just pressing the park button, everything just neutralizes without having to physically select the parking gear. I can go on and on. The overall impression is that you spoilt with standard options and (at a cost I might add), you can add all sorts of extras to make your SQ5 be according to your taste.
Key words being Sports Utility Vehicle, I kid you not, this is not just a pretty face. With proper ground clearance and quattro on demand, you can really get close to where adventure lies. Yes, you can’t really go extreme off-roading as this is no 4×4, and the vehicle is not meant for that. Whilst at it, the 360-degree radar will ensure that you won’t scrape your expensive paintwork or bumper as the car will tell you and warn you when you get too close to an obstacle. Real life imagery a beeping sound will guide you through. If you want sporty performance in an SUV, the SQ5 will give you that. Similarly, if you want versatility, this Audi will also cater to you.
*Mthuthuzeli describes himself as a motoring enthusiast with a particular affinity for Volkswagen Audi Group products. You can also send us your own written or video review and we will gladly publish it. Your contribution will be subject to our editorial policy of course.
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