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The night before I was supposed to slip behind the wheels of the all-new Audi Q5 (petrol), I read a rather unflattering report from Australia about the sports utility vehicle.

autos Updated: Aug 01, 2009 02:07 IST
Sumant Banerji

The night before I was supposed to slip behind the wheels of the all-new Audi Q5 (petrol), I read a rather unflattering report from Australia about the sports utility vehicle.

The Q5, that has been revamped with more muscle and off-roading capabilities, suffered a power steering failure after a 35-minute off-road test in Kangaroo land. I was sceptical about what extent to which I wanted to torture the car, but given the heavy rains in Delhi last Monday, there were no shortage of locations for a true-blue off-road test. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/specials/popup/Untitled-2.jpgSo I figured that it’s an Audi and it’s German — so it should know how to rise to the occasion. And rise it did, with elan.

Exteriors: All Elegance

The German cars all about elegance and class. All of them — BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Volkswagen and Audi — have excelled in developing engines that induce adrenaline rush and have top-of-the-line handling credentials to go with it. You can spot a German car from any other even without looking at the badge.

Even if you ignore the four circles of Q5 that announce its lineage, the sleek styling of the head and tail lamps and the single-frame grill will give it away. It’s not meant to look like a typical SUV — a Land Cruiser, Montero or Pajero — but more like a coupé that likes jungles: concrete and otherwise.

It’s a close call between Q5 and BMW X3 in terms of looks. The xenon headlamps and gorgeous seven-spoke alloy wheels makes for a breathtaking look. Not to mention the panorama roof.

Interiors: Sedan like

Once you step inside the car you will wonder if you are in an SUV. The luxurious leather upholstery is something, which you would only expect of a sedan. The high stance of the car notwithstanding the relatively low ground clearance gives a commanding view of the road that only inspires you to plan a fun weekend.

The seats are large and the front ones are electrically adjustable with additional lumbar support. The minimal use of wooden finish is the only grouse. The conventional wisdom tells us that SUVs are burly monsters and should look the part from inside somehow doesn’t hold true for this coupé design. A little more wood would have just rounded off the dashboard. A touch-screen for the music http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/specials/popup/car-sketch.jpgsystem would also be welcome.

Engine: A real sport

vice versa.

Verdict: Alright for India

Now, the fun part. The 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine belts out a peak performance of 311 horses at a reasonable rpm but more surprising is the massive 350-Nm torque that it offers. We have not driven the diesel 3.0-litre variant yet, so the jury is still out on which is the better among the two. We were hooked on to the car on the highway and touched a satanic peak of over 200 kilometres to the hour.

The real excitement came when we hit the sand (rather the quicksand). In a split second, the car was up to the task and took to it like a duck takes to water — it started splashing around as if it has come home. In the soggiest clay, under a bleak weather, the Q5 swerved and skid and while we were getting goosebumps inside it managed to make us feel at ease and secure too. Having said that I still do not think it has the best off road capabilities at this price point and you just have to look over your shoulder to the Montero to seek an answer, but I don't think the two are meant to lock horns. In any case, a Mitsubishi can’t and shouldn’t be an Audi — and

So what do you get for the Rs 40 lakh that you pay for this car? A capable off-roader that can give a run for the money to the majority of meticulously sculpted sedans around. A car that comes with all the safety features that people today are getting used to in India like anti-lock braking system, electronic stabilisation programme and not to miss the airbags.

And a car that gives you the heart-pumping performance when you plan to go touring. The Q5 still has its rough edges and can be bettered yet but for a majority that improvement would hardly be required. Rest assured, Australia was an aberration.