The 2013 Audi Q5 3.0T isn't a crossover you'd want to take on an extreme off-roading trip, but it definitely won't disappoint when you get the itch to drive fast. The refreshed Q5 is an absolute sleeper, something I discovered when pulling away from a stoplight on the crowded streets of Southern California.
With no one in front of me, I flipped the transmission into Sport mode, waited for the green light, hammered the throttle, and clenched the steering wheel as the Q5 rocketed down the street. The lady next to me in a BMW Z4 sDrive30i didn't have a chance -- not only was she texting (tsk, tsk), but her sports car needed 6.1 seconds to go from 0-60 mph during our most recent test. The Q5 3.0T? An impressive 5.5 seconds to 60, and its quarter-mile run clocked in at 14.1 seconds at 96.5 mph. The Q5's speed comes courtesy of its new 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 that sends 272 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque to all-four wheels via a new eight-speed automatic. We've already sampled (and praised) various iterations of the same powertrain in much of Audi's lineup from the midsize A6 to the flagship A8.
Not surprisingly, the Q5 is quicker than most of its competitors, including the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 (0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds) and the Acura RDX (6.2 seconds). Only the BMW X3 with its turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six was faster to 60 mph at 5.3 seconds, although the Audi catches up and ties with the BMW at the quarter mile. When it came time to stop, the Q5 came to a standstill from 60 mph in an impressive 105 feet, a whopping 24 feet less than the BMW and 16 less than the Benz. The Audi was also relatively quick on the figure-eight course, needing just 26.4 seconds to complete the test, which was 0.5 and 2.1 seconds faster than the X3 and GLK350, respectively. On the flipside, the Q5 is a comfortable cruiser off the track with a quiet cabin despite our tester's 20-inch wheels. Steering is nicely weighted with the Drive Select system set to Dynamic mode, but it feels a bit overboosted in Comfort and Auto modes.
In addition to its new V-6, the 2013 Q5 is sporting few styling tweaks and tech updates. As luck would have it, a buddy of mine recently purchased a 2012 Q5 3.2 and was willing to participate in a pseudo comparo between his new ride and the refreshed model. Would he be green with envy? Yes and no. We started with the powertrains. His outgoing Q5 is powered by a naturally aspirated 3.2-liter V-6 (270 hp and 243 lb-ft) mated to a six-speed automatic. We both agreed that the new Q5 was noticeably quicker off the line, and a peek at MT's test log confirms our observation -- the outgoing V-6 needed 6.6 seconds to propel the Q5 from 0-60 mph. The new powertrain is also more fuel-efficient, with an EPA rating of 18/26 mpg city/highway versus 18/23 for the discontinued V-6 (a stop-start system is also new for 2013). Despite the improvements, my friend says he's perfectly happy with his Q5's performance.
We moved on to styling. He didn't notice a significant improvement on the 2013 Q5's front end (revised bumper and grille along with thinner headlight units) and actually preferred his LED daytime running lamps, which run from the inner and upper edge of the headlight unit. The 2013 Q5 sports a new fiber-optic-like LED bar bordering the entire headlight unit. Out back, however, he did like the new LED taillights and flat-bottomed exhaust tips.
Inside, he was indifferent to the revised switchgear with metallic finishes and the tweaked instrument panel. His reaction, however, was much different to the new flat-bottomed steering wheel, which is bundled in with the $2500 S line package. "I want that!" he yelled. And that wasn't the end of it. His face turned a deeper shade of green when we moved on to the revised MMI infotainment system. The screen display, he said, was noticeably sharper. The voice command system is improved, too, allowing you to provide a full address in one shot, whereas the old system requires a prompt and confirmation for each line item. The biggest source of envy for my friend was the addition of streaming Bluetooth audio, something he wishes his car had.
Pricing for the new 2013 Audi Q5 3.0T starts at $44,795 (including $895 destination), which is a few hundred more dollars than an X3 with the turbo six. Our tester topped off at $51,820, thanks to a number of options including metallic paint ($475); the Audi MMI Navigation plus package that includes the new Audi connect system ($3550); the S line package with 20-inch rims, the flat-bottom steering wheel, adaptive suspension and Drive Select ($2500); and the Sport interior package, which includes sport seats with added bolstering ($500).
The Q5 is also still available with the tamer and less expensive 2.0-liter turbo four, and a new hybrid that pairs the four-cylinder with an electric motor joins the lineup for 2013. If that weren't enough, an oil-burning diesel is slated to arrive by fall 2013. But if you need to haul your cargo in a hurry, the supercharged V-6 is the way to go. Sure, Audi's stable includes much faster cars, such as the RS6 Avant, but spending time in the supercharged Q5 does offer a nice distraction, even if it is just 5.5 seconds at a time.
| 2013 Audi Q5 3.0T |
| BASE PRICE || $44,795 |
| PRICE AS TESTED || $51,820 |
| VEHICLE LAYOUT || Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV |
| ENGINE || 3.0L/272-hp/295-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 24-valve V-6 |
| TRANSMISSION || 8-speed automatic |
| CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) || 4336 lb (54/46%) |
| WHEELBASE || 110.5 in |
| LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT || 182.6 x 74.7 x 65.2 in |
| 0-60 MPH || 5.5 sec |
| QUARTER MILE || 14.1 sec @ 96.5 mph |
| BRAKING, 60-0 MPH || 105 ft |
| LATERAL ACCELERATION || 0.88 g (avg) |
| MT FIGURE EIGHT || 26.4 sec @ 0.69 g (avg) |
| EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON || 18/26 mpg |
| ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY || 187/130 kW-hrs/100 miles |
| CO2 EMISSIONS || 0.93 lb/mile |