Static photo,
Colour: Glacier white

Audi Q5 Sportback S Line 4.0 TDi Quattro S Tronic.

Those who have an eye for Great Art will recall that famous picture ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’. It depicts an old sea dog entertaining two wide-eyed boys with tales of The Spanish Main.

Fast forward to the Age of the Car and bring on the heyday of the British motor industry. Equally avid youngsters did then gather at the feet of their elders to listen to tales of torque and throaty exhausts, of hot oil and squealing rubber.

These are the youngsters who inherited the flame and the passion, the knowledge and the know-how. They grew up knowing a timing chain from an electrode and a planet gear from a piece of pastry. In short they grew up knowing how a car works. I should know Readers. I am one such.

That’s not to say it disqualifies me from saying anything knowledgeable about today’s motor vehicles. These cars are so far advanced along the road to incomprehensible complexity that all the humble road tester may do is mumble a few impressionistic words, the better to disguise a plague of head scratching.

This bout of soul searching was brought about by recent experiences with plug-in hybrid power, mild hybrid power, all electric power, atomic power, and the rest – all pointing to arcane secrets of unprecedented sophistication. It was, therefore, to my absolute delight to receive the coupe style SUV Audi Q5 Sportback S Line diesel. A car that I could drive to the local parish pump, remain in the car because rain was torrential, lower the window and say to the pump attendant.. ”Fill ‘er up Squire’. Five minutes later I could be on my way, non-stop, to John O’Groats.

If you are not so bothered about flower power, loving your neighbour, bats in the belfry and the Great Crested Newt in a field of buttercups, then you will love this diesel version – with a wonderful 204 PS 2-0 litre diesel engine that has particulate filtration, is as pure as a breath of fresh air and as smooth as anyone should want. And it will power you to near 140mph through the legendary seven speed DSG gearbox to the all-wheel-drive system that keeps you safe and sound in slippery conditions: a great reassurance in today’s uncertain world where people crave security. All this and a claimed economy of 42.8 mpg – which is ultra conservative. On a 50 mile A road run I achieved near 60 mpg! 

Audi ownership does something for you. It declares your intention to go for the best and to be guided by good solid commonsense, mediated with innate taste.

Behind the wheel of the Q5 Sportback you are clearly not trying to impress, but at the same time are creating the best of impressions. There’s class by the bucket load and it doesn’t have to dip its toes in the twinkly tinsel of flash in order to steal a march on rivals.

It’s rather like the difference between understated, made to measure apparel that comes – as all good things do – at a price, but a sensible one of £55,095.  With a Q5 Sportback you know to expect comfort, performance, style, safety, good residuals and a warm acknowledgement from fellow road users who are rightfully suspicious of undue ostentation and conspicuous flag waving of the parvenu kind.

To be specific, one has everything one expects of an upmarket SUV with the addition of enough bells and whistles to serve a cross channel ferry negotiating busy sea lanes. As captain, you’ll feel completely in control and as comfortable as a first class passenger in a force nine gale.

Driver aids are many and multifarious, ensuring safe and secure passage along the highways and byways of our congested roads. You’re safe and secure in all conditions with that reassuring four wheel drive: so you need not fear whatever adversary the highway gremlin may strew in your path.

There’s safety of the highest order and it’s nice to know that while incident free motoring may not make for highly dramatic reportage, safety features in abundance guarantee safe arrival and happy endings – so who would argue with that. It’s no idle boast that Audi’s really are safe cars getting top NCAP ratings.

Inside it’s solid, airy and well appointed with everything being of finest quality. There’s lots of room for five to travel at ease and it’s well equipped with comfort features like dual zone climate control and an excellent sound system. The driving position is typically high and from a ‘command’ position you get a clear all round view.

At the wheel one feels supremely confident, eminently sensible and refined in taste – almost to patrician levels. In short, the driver feels good and passengers feel secure and comfortable. It suits the discerning motorist down to the ground with driving characteristics that are totally reassuring. The S Line has slightly lower suspension than the standard Q5 which I’m certain would help those driving furiously.

Here is utility wrapped up in catwalk lustre – a sassy touch of style married to granite underpinnings. Put simply it’s a market marauder that knocks its rivals dizzy. A quality motor from the kingdom of quality with a classy functionalism that does not eschew a proud statement of poise. It’s not that the Q5 Sportback establishes a unique concept: rather it takes a desirable concept and tunes it to perfection.

Of course, it also has a degree of off-road capability with all-wheel-drive but the main benefit for most buyers will be the added security on-road. I once asked a venerable philosopher why those who never venture off-road are so keen to buy cars with off-road capability. He pondered the conundrum, puffed his politically incorrect pipe before sagely concluding that this was a consequence of the ‘Uncertainty principle’. He elaborated by pointing out that in today’s uncertain world people crave security. With these wise words in mind I continued to put this SUV through its paces and found myself nodding in satisfaction at the way it conducted itself with no fuss, no fluster and no fireworks – just mature, confident and competent inspiring gravitas. Here is a motor that will deliver, I mused, reminding myself of those that I had tested recently that returned far less, yet claimed far more.

At a time of great financial and ecological uncertainty one feels that this is a car you can bank on. It’s an Audi through and through and that means you can trust it to do what it says on the tin – to coin a phrase – with no corner cutting.

Weaving my way through congested city streets I felt imbued with the aura of understated celebrity, rather as if a respected theatrical knight were negotiating the Saturday afternoon hordes in the shopping precinct. I was astonished when, in a ‘fifty fifty’ situation, a boy racer flashed me the ‘go ahead’ – and as I obligingly negotiated the gap, he acknowledged my wave as if to say ‘suits you sir’.

Politicians today bang on about ‘change’, but quite frankly where this Q5 Sportback is concerned, I wouldn’t change a thing.