Car review: Audi Q5 2.0 gets less power, more value

The 204hp Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 remains as drivable in Singapore as its 249hp twin. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE – Desperate times call for desperate measures. In the face of stratospheric certificate of entitlement (COE) prices and amplified registration taxes, Audi has brought in cars with less power than before, such as the Q5 Sportback 2.0.

The car has 204hp and 320Nm of torque from a detuned engine. It hits 100kmh in 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 223kmh. It sits alongside a 249hp/370Nm variant which was launched two years ago, and which hits the century mark in 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 237kmh.

At $320,027, the lesser car is $23,437 less costly than its more powerful twin, which is still available in the showroom.

Elsewhere, the 204hp Q5 Sportback compares well against its closest rival, the BMW X4 xDrive20i, which is priced at $360,888 and which has 181hp.

The 204hp Q5 Sportback – a quattro all-wheel drive like its beefier namesake – is still an eminently drivable car, with electric-like torque flowing powerfully the moment you step on the pedal. Throttle response is predictable and wonderfully linear, giving the car a lightness and spontaneity which elude many other turbocharged cars.

While not as bristling as the 249hp car, it has no problem at all keeping up with others on the road. It is adequately breezy at low engine speeds, which is crucial to drivability in an urban setting. On highways, it has enough reserves for reasonably quick overtaking. Even its adaptive cruise control is responsive enough to close up gaps in traffic, which you cannot count on all cars equipped with this feature to do.

Perhaps the car’s power deficit will come into play during more demanding tasks such as lane-switching or passing on Malaysia’s fast-flowing North South Expressway. But a top speed of 223kmh is still pretty respectable.

A 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine sheds some power for slightly better efficiency. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

In Singapore, the car is more than sufficient for everyday needs. It is a car which goes about its business in a completely fuss-free fashion, with enough performance to keep driving enthusiasts from nodding off, and commuters who drive from getting sweaty palms.

Audi says another benefit of a lower-powered car is fuel savings. The test car averages 9.8 litres/100km, versus 10.1 litres/100km clocked by the 249hp Q5 Sportback as tested two years ago. Both are not near the stated figures of 6.8 litres/100km (204hp car) and 8 litres/100km (249hp car). Hence, the potential savings could be as low as 3 per cent, and not 15 per cent if calculated with the stated figures.

Cars which are tuned down often have their equipment list pared down as well. Thankfully, not so in the case of this Audi. Its adaptive cruise control aside, features and equipment include 18-inch alloys, three-zone automatic climate control, electrically adjustable front seats with four-way lumbar support, heat-insulated glass for the side and rear windows, and an infotainment system with eight-speaker stereo, built-in navigation and emergency call service. The last two features are rare, even in segments loftier than the Q5.

The cockpit is familiar, with a proper gear change lever and steering-mounted shift paddles. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
A sizeable cargo area, expandable when the rear seat backs are collapsed. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The car also comes with Audi’s selection of drive modes, including one for efficiency. Its 510-litre cargo capacity remains a strong selling point, with access via a motorised tailgate with door-locking function.

As before, the Q5 Sportback has a more conventional sport utility vehicle (SUV) sibling, which is also now available with a tuned-down engine. While the Sportback targets those who want a sporty shape to go with a utility vehicle, the traditional SUV variant offers a tad more stowage without the rear-sloping roof.

Either one is worth considering for those who do not need extra power. While high COE prices and revised registration taxes have rendered just about every premium car substantially costlier than before, the detuned Q5 cars are a small attempt on Audi’s part to ease the pain of ownership.

Follow Christopher Tan on Instagram @chris.motoring

PRICE $320,027 with COE
ENGINE 1,984cc 16-valve turbocharged inline-4
TRANSMISSION Seven-speed dual-clutch with shift paddles
POWER 204hp at 4,475-6,000rpm
TORQUE 320Nm at 1,450-4,375rpm
0-100KMH 7.3 seconds
TOP SPEED 223kmh
FUEL CONSUMPTION 6.8 litres/100km
AGENT Premium Automobiles

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