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2012 Audi Q5 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Audi Q5 was new.


Performance: 8.6

In the performance arena, the 2012 Audi Q5 receives nothing but high marks from the automotive press. Test drivers praise its confident handling and optional Audi drive select, which allows drivers to balance comfort and performance with comfort, auto and dynamic options. The Q5 comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine. If you want the sportier and more powerful 3.2-liter V6 engine, you’ll have to upgrade to the 3.2 Premium Plus trim.

Reviewers like the base 2.0-liter turbo engine, and say it’s nearly as powerful as the 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that comes with the base BMW X3. The Q5 also has a reviewer-praised standard all-wheel drive system and a base engine with the highest fuel economy ratings in the class.  

  • "Being in Los Angeles, I am the only one on the AutoWeek staff who is not currently wading through waist-deep snow, cursing the weather. So why is it that I am driving this perfectly capable all-wheel-drive Audi SUV? Because it's fun to drive on dry pavement, too." -- AutoWeek
  • "In reviews, we've found that the Audi Q5 strikes a remarkably satisfying balance between performance and comfort." -- Edmunds
  • "Slipping behind the wheel of the Q5 2.0T is a pure joy. The suspension is stiff and sporty without ever being overly harsh. The eight-speed Tiptronic transmission is lightning fast and very smooth. Acceleration is more than adequate, both from a standing start and at highway speed. There's a bit of turbo lag when you punch the gas, but not enough to be truly annoying." -- Businessweek
  • "2.0T models exhibit a bit of turbo lag from a stop. The engine offers fine overall power, though it feels somewhat taxed during hill climbs. Its 8-speed automatic is smooth and responsive. … The 3.2-liter V6 feels peppy around town. Paired with its responsive 6-speed automatic, it delivers ample smooth, linear power on the highway. Audi lists a 6.7 second 0-60-mph time, which feels credible to us." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Audi Q5 has two engine options. The base model comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It makes 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

By comparison, the 3.2 liter V6 engine, available with the 3.2 Prestige and 3.2 Premium Plus trims, produces 270 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. The 3.2-liter V6 is more powerful, and test drivers have nothing but positive things to say about this engine’s performance, but they also say that the 2.0-liter turbo engine is fantastic.

The base engine has fuel economy ratings of 20/27 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA. The 3.2-liter engine averages much less – 18/23 mpg – but these ratings are still some of the highest in the class, especially when you factor in the standard all-wheel drive that comes with both models. The Q5 does take premium gasoline, but that’s common in the class. In fact, the Volvo XC60 is one of few luxury compact SUVs that uses regular gasoline.   

  • "It’s the same basic box of gears found in the BMW 7-series, Rolls-Royce Ghost, and Audi A8 and A5, among others. It upshifts with a swiftness and confidence that remind of Audi’s S tronic dual-clutch automatic, particularly with the throttle matted. Nonsequential up- or downshifts even eight to two can be executed manually, although you have to be a little deliberate about it, with more of a whap whap whap than a whapwhapwhap." -- Car and Driver
  • "As a result, the base model Q5 is nearly as quick as the more expensive V6-powered rivals: Audi says the 2.0T accelerates from zero to 60 in 7.1 seconds, compared with 6.7 seconds for the Q5 3.2 and X3 xDrive28i." -- Businessweek
  • "Paired with a new eight-speed manually selectable Tiptronic transmission, the 2.0T delivers V6 like performance with impressively frugal fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

After test driving the 2012 Audi Q5, automotive editors report that it has one of the most balanced and refined suspensions on the market. Steering is light enough for highway and city driving, but is still quick and direct when reviewers test the Q5’s capabilities at higher speeds.  

One reason why the Q5 handles so well is because of Audi drive select, which is optional on the 3.2 Prestige Trim. It has 27 driving configurations. Reviewers say most drivers will be completely satisfied with the base model’s handling and braking capabilities though.

  • "The steering is quick and direct and the 235/60R-18 Dunlops grip the dry California roads with near-elastic glee." -- AutoWeek
  • "Fairly nimble with minimal body lean. Steering feel is firm and direct; braking is strong and linear. A tight turning radius eases close-quarters maneuvering." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The steering is accurate and nicely weighted, and body control is quite good for a tall wagon. At the same time, the ride is supple enough to please those who couldn't care less about handling." -- Edmunds 
  • "In a tight parking lot, you want a lot of steering assist and response. When bombing down the autobahn, you want little boost and subtle directional changes. With Audi dynamic steering, the Q5 has variable assist and variable ratio, delivering the best of both worlds. The system can even provide minor steering corrections in extreme situations, reducing the need for electronic stability program intervention." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The brakes offer good feel, as does the steering. The Q5 turns in with eagerness and never complains when you feel like hustling, with any understeer easily sorted out by a touch less throttle and the Quattro all-wheel-drive system." -- Car and Driver

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