Is The Audi Q5 Comfortable?
The 12-way power adjustment is worth its weight in gold as every bit of fine tuning makes a difference when searching for the ideal seating position.
There were two reasons I had been looking forward to hitting the road for a few days. The first: nothing more banal than to escape the confines of my office. The second and far weightier matter on hand was to convince myself I`d made the right decision after taking delivery of a MY18 Audi Q5 TFSI Sport.
So that`s how I found myself negotiating through the last remnants of peak hour traffic in the outbound lanes of the Monash freeway on a chilly Friday afternoon. The salesman hadn`t been kidding – Audi had spared no expense on sound proofing the interior from the hubbub of the outside world. Despite the afternoon traffic being horrendous as usual, the peace and quiet of the whisper-quiet cabin were balm to the soul, thanks to the quality door seals, thick glass and vehicle insulation – it was almost as if I was wearing a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
It`s funny a thing; no matter how impartial and professional I try to be regarding the purchase of a motor vehicle, I end up taking the same predictable approach every time. Perusing everything on four wheels within a given budget, I will pretty soon find myself leaning towards a particular make and model. From there, it`s a case of eagerly devouring every positive review I can find to justify my strong feelings for it, subconsciously glossing over any constructive criticism of said vehicle.
However, typically a week or so after the actual purchase is all it takes for any neutral or negative observations in afore mentioned reviews to come back to haunt me; I simply can`t block out the information I`ve absorbed, and the seeds of doubt are sown. The Audi Q5 was no exception, and after reading all there was to be found on the internet concerning both positive and negative opinions associated with the Q5, it was time to dedicate some quality time to putting my demons to rest regarding the latter and find out for myself, exactly how comfortable of a car it was.
True, I had seized the opportunity to test drive the thing at the dealership, but as a first time Audi driver most of the those precious minutes with the vehicle stationary had been spent familiarising myself with the renowned MMI system. The test drive itself consisted of me nodding politely to the chirpy salesman in the passenger seat who could no doubt have talked under wet cement with his mouth full of marbles. Don`t get me wrong, it was all useful info, but it deprived me of the ability to draw my own conclusions. Besides, I didn`t have the gall to really push the Q5 to its limits before I had signed on the dotted line. Escaping the rat-race of corporate Melbourne for a coastal road trip at my own pace was just what the doctor ordered.
Day 1 – Melbourne to Lakes Entrance
Leaving the rush hour crawl on the multi-lane M1 for the dual carriageway Princes Highway didn`t see any deterioration in interior noise levels either. Impressive, given that my arctic white Q5 Sport was rolling on factory fitted 20-inch low profile tyres. There will always be contradictory opinions on tyre brands, so for the Audi drivers not completely satisfied with the level of road noise, it`s definitely worth trialing a different brand of tyre – as road noise can vary substantially between the different tyre brands at highway speeds. Worth a mention though, is that the extraordinary steps the Audi design team has taken to eliminate both wind and engine noise levels – has resulted in the otherwise unnoticeable hum of the tyres being slightly more audible on occasion, in the Q5.
Next up was a refueling stop in Sale, a town settled by Europeans as early as the 1840s but which was really put on the map when it became an important base for the goldfields further north in Omeo, during the goldrush years of the 1850s. As with most country towns it is eerily quiet after 9 pm, but the navigation system didn`t waste time in giving me the luxury of two 24-hour service stations to choose between. An icy gust of wind as I opened the door reminded me why I didn`t live permanently in this postcode, and, after a bit of a chat with the lone service station attendant who had drawn the short straw for the long weekend, I was on my way.
The snow icon illuminated on the dash shortly after getting back into the Q5, testament to the fact that outside air temperature was creeping into the lower spectrum of single digits. (It comes on between temperatures of +5 and -5 degrees.)
I have to admit, so far my overall impression of the Audi Q5 had been extremely favourable. I had capitalized on the long, straight stretches of highway between Morwell and Rosedale, to make subtle changes to the driver seating position and had finally settled upon an optimal seating height and angle. After a hectic week; it was time to focus on the road ahead, whilst enjoying the best of Hans Zimmer through the world class Bang and Olufsen sound system.
For the Audi drivers not completely satisfied with the level of road noise, it’s definitely worth trialling a different brand of tyre, as road noise can vary substantially between the different tyre brands at highway speeds.
Day 2 – Lakes Entrance to Nowra
After enjoying a leisurely read of a non-digitalised version of the news, it was time to hit the road.
After a latte sipping morning, Lakes Entrance was fast disappearing in the rear view mirror and it was time to spend the rest of the day road-testing my latest acquisition. Ahead lay over 500km worth of smooth bitumen, with stunning coastal towns such as Eden, Narooma, Bateman`s Bay and Ulladulla scattered along the route to Nowra.
I was well aware that the sport badge on the boot was an ambitious call for an SUV in the compact luxury segment, but I was still cautiously hopeful that it would live up to the title. As I powered through the sweeping bends of the Mount Raymond Regional Park, I couldn`t help being genuinely impressed with the handling of the thing; I could not fault the way the Q5 swiftly responded to my steering and braking inputs. Enabling Dynamic Mode in the vehicle Drive Select menu definitely made a difference to throttle response, transmission shifts and ride firmness. If anything, it would have been nice to get a more aggressive exhaust note when envisioning myself as Lewis Hamilton. I was a tad disappointed that even in Dynamic, the exhaust note was still whisper quiet at wide open throttle. Maybe it`s just my ego, but hearing the engine respond with more than a hum would in my opinion make for a more entertaining driving experience.
One thing that I have come to accept as a necessary evil in pretty much every modern car, is the fly-by-wire throttle technology. Call me eccentric, but I occasionally find myself harking back to the throttle cable days of old, where throttle response was in direct proportion to how fast you stomped on the go pedal. I`m all for technological advancement and I do understand the benefits of it. But the delay that occurs as the vehicle computer converts the simple act of pushing the accelerator into a mathematical equation, bugs me to no end; It`s one function where I feel like reclaiming ownership of the decision-making process
One option I may consider if it keeps bothering me down the track, is to try out one of the many different types of throttle controllers on the market. They are a plug and play type modification which connect directly into the throttle connector, allowing for throttle sensitivity to be programmed for a quicker response time. This obviously doesn`t increase power but can apparently eliminate the lag associated with fly-by-wire throttle response.
After an enjoyable 3 hours of driving, it was time to for a pit stop in the whaling town of Eden. I purchased a ticket on a whim to the Killer Whale Museum and was soon engrossed in this fascinating aspect of the town`s history. With all the time in the world at my disposal, I took my time viewing the various exhibits. The showpiece is definitely the complete skeleton of ‘Old Tom’ the killer whale who was one of many orcas which assisted the whalers in the early 1900s by amongst other things, herding the highly sought-after baleen whales into Twofold Bay.
Are Audi Q5 Sports Seats Comfortable?
Having covered over 500km I was fast approaching the halfway mark of my trip and was relieved to find the sports seat comfort levels growing on me. I have the privilege of owning a 2002 Saab 95 Aero which aside from having somewhat of a cult following, also happens to be fitted (in my humble opinion) with the world`s most comfortable seats. The most boring and predictable thing in this case, would be to compare the business class comfort levels of my ‘02 Aero with that of my newly acquired MY18 Q5 Sport. So, that`s what I did.
There`s no doubt about it, the Q5 sports seats are firm, but after a few hundred kilometres behind the wheel, and nearing the picturesque, seaside town of Narooma, I had grown quite accustomed to level of support the driver seat provided. The 12-way power adjustment is worth its weight in gold as I discovered that every bit of fine tuning makes a difference when searching for the ideal seating position. The sides of the seat are also fairly supportive, something which suits my build, but I can imagine that a larger person may have an issue with the front seat bolsters being fairly confining compared to the more generous proportions found inside the brilliantly architectured 95 Aero. One stand-out feature that I must concede was missing in my Saab was the adjustable thigh support. Being taller than average, this feature alone makes the Q5 sports seats worth it for me, especially on road trips like this.
My only gripe with the seating position of the Q5 so far, was the driver door armrest. I can`t quite pinpoint it, call me pedantic, but it`s almost as if the armrest is a fraction low or narrow – one of the two, compared to other cars I`ve driven recently. Anyhow, seating position and seat comfort are probably the most divisive topics to review; comfort being such a subjective term – so I won`t make a mountain out of a molehill on that particular point.
Does Audi Use Fake Leather?
Audi Australia provided a whole consortium of upholstery options for the second generation Q5 ranging from a combination of cloth and leather seats right through to the (top of the line) full leather option available on the sports seats in either Milano or Fine Nappa leather. You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible amount of work that goes into producing Audi leather interiors in this informative video by Audi.
Most MY18 Q5s advertised on carsales.com.au, list partial leather seats under the interior features menu, with general consensus on online discussion forums being that the high contact areas such as the seat back and bottom are genuine leather, whilst the bolsters, sides and rear of the seat are often synthetic leather, commonly referred to as artificial leather, or leatherette.
Having said that, there is a lot of conflicting information on the internet regarding the proportion of genuine to imitation leather in an Audi Q5 interior. This is probably due to the fact that there are subtle trim level differences depending on where in the world the Q5 was released. For example, North America, Europe and Australian markets vary significantly when it comes to which options were available.
So yes, Audi does use fake leather, although perhaps not quite to the extent of other luxury brands. For most people this isn`t a deal breaker though; as modern imitation leather is of such a high standard and must pass stringent quality control tests, that to the untrained eye it easily passes for the real thing. One way of possibly finding out the genuine leather to imitation leather ratio would be to visit your local Audi dealer and ask if they can access the interior product codes for your particular Q5.
Audi Australia provided a whole consortium of upholstery options for the second generation Q5 ranging from a combination of cloth and leather seats right through to the (top of the line) full leather option available on the sports seats in either Milano or Fine Nappa leather.
The Audi Q5 Virtual Cockpit
As the trip odometer ticked over 750 kilometres my noble intentions to maintain a law-abiding driving style had thus far been successful – primarily motivated by my desire to avoid falling prey to the diligent highway patrol vehicles I had passed throughout the day. To alleviate the mind-numbing effect that Australia`s conservative speed limits tend to have on me (and to capitalise on my resolution to stick to them,) I had ample concentration reserves on hand to explore the virtual cockpit menu illuminated on the 12.3” screen in front of me.
Simply put; the virtual cockpit of the Q5 is considered to be among the most advanced instrument consoles out there, and I like it. Screen resolution is incredible when using it for navigation and there are multiple themes to cater for whatever information you want prioritised on the display. The classic and sport modes are a clever touch, with the sport mode featuring a prominent tachometer.
Equally jam packed with technology is the MMI, or the Multi Media Interface which is displayed on a separate 8.3-inch screen in the centre of the dash. One aspect of the infotainment display I would have liked to see would be for it to be able to retract when not in use. I wouldn`t describe anything in the Audi Q5 interior as ‘tacky’ and I`m sure the designers at Audi have a legitimate reason for the placement of it, but I initially think it looks like a bit of an afterthought as it doesn`t blend in with the otherwise smooth contours of the dash.
Day 3 – Nowra to Glenbrook
Feeling recharged after my stopover in Nowra, I hit the road again with the final destination being Glenbrook – the gateway to the Blue Mountains. I decided against going via Wollongong as I had a few hours to kill with the remaining leg being just shy of 200 kilometres. Instead I headed inland towards Kangaroo Valley, renowned for the wineries in the region. It was also another opportunity to enjoy navigating the Q5 through some windy roads leading up to Moss Vale.
The scenery was simply stunning. A mix of open fields, vineyards, and dense forest. I pulled over occasionally just to tweak the different Drive Select settings in Individual Mode to see how it influenced the personality of the car. The highlight was definitely seeing how well it coped with the tight hair pin turns around Barrengarry. If I were going to get really picky, (which you need to be when looking for negative aspects of the Audi Q5) I`d say that the electronic safety systems probably activated slightly earlier than I would have preferred. From what I can gauge, the car is intelligent enough to make predictive corrections to steering and braking for the average driver; but not capable of differentiating between accidental and intentional cornering exiting speeds, for example, when driven aggressively. But again, the Audi Q5 is no sports car, which I was aware of when I bought it, so I`m really just mentioning this as an observation, rather than a fault with the vehicle.
The remainder of the road trip was as relaxing as anyone could wish for, the Hume Highway obviously vastly different today than what it used to be. Although tempted, I refrained from taking the slightly more nostalgic alternative of the Old Hume Highway, to save driving through the towns of Bargo, Picton and Camden.
From what I can gauge, the car is intelligent enough to make corrections to steering and braking for the average driver, but not capable of differentiating between accidental and intentional cornering exiting speeds, for example, when driven aggressively.
Overall, it was a fabulous long weekend of driving and upon arrival at Glenbrook I could honestly say the Audi Q5 exceeded all my expectations. Seat comfort had probably been my greatest concern prior to the trip, but after clocking up a total of around 1100km in just over 2 days these fears were alleviated. The climate control system operated flawlessly, as did the premium sound system. The Adaptive Cruise Control feature was not something I used constantly; but it was really relaxing to use in peak hour as I left Melbourne as well as when encountering fairly heavy traffic on the Hume Highway during the last leg of the journey.
After a long weekend spent enjoying the solitude of my own company, I was looking forward to a week`s worth of hiking in the Blue Mountains with close friends before heading back to reality.
The above article was provided to My Audi Q5 by a third-party Audi enthusiast.