‘We skipped the light fandango’ is the opening line from Procol Harum’s classic whiter shade of pale and although the rest of the tune bares no relevance to the 2021 Q5 that Audi New Zealand gave us the keys to, the fandango lights certainly did.
A fandango is essentially a lively Spanish dance, however, in relation to the new Q5, it’s a flashy signature OLED (organic light emitting diodes) dance on the rear end of the popular SUV and what’s more, just as the R8 was the first to have LEDs and the TT RS/A8 the first to have OLEDs – the Q5’s digital OLEDs are a ‘world first’.
To the uneducated (yes me), the ‘spinning’ effect on the top three segments of the tail lights is cool and evidently (again to me), a talking point but to Audi this new age of lighting is not only a display shell but will provide opportunities and prospects in terms of design, personalization, communication and safety going forward – so what do I know!
The Q5 itself first launched on to the market around 2009 and due to its size, good looks and overall Audiness quickly lept into being their number one seller. In 2017 Audi released their second generation Q5 which inevitably grew in wheelbase and overall size and assumed more of a new Audi family resemblance. The 2021 model is more of a facelift but the changes both inside and out are more than noticeable.
Our 45 S-Line review model came in District Green, it’s a bit ‘British Racing’ but with a lighter metallic fleck that highlights the medium sized SUV’s strong beltline and pronounced wheel arch shadows that shroud the 21-inch alloys. The nose boasts a large octagonal grille that’s bookended by LED lights and large air curtains which for the S-Line are purely cosmetic. The rear features a roofline spoiler, the playful digitized OLED lights and some trapezoidal exhaust tips that don’t actually have an exhaust behind.
The interior is as spacious as ever and bathed in leather, the upmarket scent hits you the moment you open the door. Luggage space is a triple suitcase 550L and can be configured to fit most things plus there’s ample seating for four plus a smaller one.
The technology has been improved with the latest version of Audi’s MMI system boasting Apple/Android connectivity and a navigation system that handshakes freely with your smartphone. Realtime traffic is there to help you avoid traffic woes and the entire system is rapid and easy to use. Our model also came with the most excellent virtual cockpit that again is easy to control, offers oodles of ultra sharp and ultra personalisable info and looks cool too.
The engine has been given a slight power increase and our 2L TFSI produces 183kW/370Nm, it also comes with a 12-volt mild hybrid system so things like fuel saving (7.5L/100km) start/stop enters your daily commute. With quattro AWD and a 7-speed S-tronic box the Q5 will nip from zero to 100km/h in 6.3 seconds and up to a top speed of 237km/h should you find the opportunity. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to nip up to top speed but I can tell you that it shifts off the mark pretty sharpish, enough to spill your latte that’s for sure.
It’s agile too. Coming with a fully variable quattro drive as standard, the Q5 is able to distribute power to where (which wheel) it’s best needed and the mechanical lock function is designed to distribute the drive torque to the front and rear axles depending on what physics dictates. I personally had the Audi drive select set in Dynamic the majority of the time to give the SUV a sporty attitude and although the ride was firm, the rapid accelerator response and vehicle drivability was the winner for me – not so much for the family.
We ended up treking out to Scotts Landing and the joyful roads that surround Matakana. The Q5 was comfy and simple to relax in while stuck in weekend traffic – the adaptive cruise control works a treat and yet is quick to stretch its legs when free of others (or watchful eyes). It’s more than capable of holding a small family and beach visit toys plus it even had room for a weekly grocery shop on the way back
You can see why the Audi New Zealand Q5 is such a popular model, it’s just about the perfect size for NZ roads and NZ families. The new 2021 model has just upped the ante on the things we like about the SUV and added a fandango light experience – the only downside is, you can’t watch the show from the driver’s seat. You’re welcome, those that ran behind me for the week.