Audi’s new all-wheel drive system, named quattro on demand, permanently monitors the road surface, the driver and how the car is driven and adjusts accordingly. It can switch between four-wheel or front-wheel drive in milliseconds. This is impressive as I could take curvy roads at relatively high but legal speeds and could hardly feel the car lose its composure. There was also barely noticeable body roll. The technology is not intrusive but you can feel its presence in situations where you know that normal cars will start acting twitchy or feeling heavy.
Driver assistance gizmos include a hi-tech adaptive cruise control, which offers traffic jam assist when the car becomes semi-autonomous in traffic, and lane-keeping assistance.
The location of the small gear lever allows one to rest the wrist while using the improved trackpad of the MMI (multimedia interface). Handwriting recognition by the trackpad makes searching for names or addresses more intuitive and that helps a lot. Also, the trackpad recognises gestures like zooming, like in smartphones, that brought some welcome familiarity.
The Q5 is laden with gadgetry, although many are options, such as the wireless cellphone charging, excellent Bang and Olufsen sound system that produces 3D sound from strategically placed speakers and the smartphone interface, which activates either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
We first drove the diesel 2.0l TDI quattro S-tronic (starting at R698,000), which produces 140kW and 400Nm of torque. The acceleration is good and the car covers the distance in relative ease and when we had to overtake some slow-moving vehicles it did it effortlessly.