Diesel Car Review: 2 Takes on the 2014 Audi Q5 TDI
The title screen in the video above sets the proper stage for the 2014 Audi Q5 TDI, “Might as Well Face It, You’re Addicted to Torque.” Our apologies to the estate of Robert Palmer, but that’s how a lot of people feel once they press their right foot down in one of today’s turbo diesels. Their general feeling is that, despite the price the Q5 is a very good vehicle.
So we’re going to look at the Q5, from 2 points of view. The first is from Motorweek.com, producers of the video above. The second is from Motor Trend, who drove the Q5 back in late May. Let’s start with some Motorweek:
What is it about turbo diesels like this 2014 Audi Q5 TDI that we love so much? It’s certainly not the smell or more expensive cost of the diesel fuel. Perhaps it’s their simplicity as a higher mileage option, or that ability to fulfill our long range ambitions?
Or maybe it’s just that huge hit of torque you get when you stomp on the pedal. It’s a highly addictive response, and once you’ve sampled it, driving a gasoline powered equivalent is just not the same.
The Q5, Audi’s smallest crossover here for now, got a styling refresh just last year. But Audi saved the best updates for this year, a high performance SQ5 and our high miler TDI.
A few weeks before I got into this Audi Q5 TDI, I spent several days in the SQ5, which is basically a lifted S4 wagon. The SQ5 is a land rocket for families that will leave some sports car drivers wondering if they made the right choice in vehicle. As you can imagine, I was prepared for a big step down in performance with the diesel version, which wasn’t even an S model. After a week of the normal suburban grind followed by a short family road trip, I came away wondering which version of the Q5 is the clear winner.
According to our HECN New Car Configurator, the 2014 Audi SQ5 starts at $51,900. The 2014 Q5 TDI stars at $46,500. So if winning is performance AND mpg while spending less, it’s easy for me to see the winner.
First let’s start with some specs. The Q5 TDI is powered by Audi’s 3.0 liter direct-injection turbo diesel V-6 which produces 240 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. For comparison sake, the SQ5 uses a supercharged 3.0 liter gas V6 producing 354 hp but only 347 lb-ft of torque. The Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, which might be the Audi’s closest natural competitor, also uses a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 producing 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The Q5 TDI weighs in at a relatively svelte 4415 lb while the Jeep has nearly half a ton on it weighing in at 5401 lb. The Jeep is substantially bigger on the outside, measuring 7.2 inches longer than the Audi’s 182.6 length and 2.6 inches wider than the Audi’s 82.2 inch width. The substantial size difference results in just 0.7 inches difference in front legroom and 1.2 inches in rear legroom. The biggest difference is 11 cubic-feet in trunk volume, the Audi at 57.3 compared to the Jeep’s 68.3 cubic feet.
Motorweek likes the Q5’s economy, interior and instrumentation:
Steering is electro-mechanical and felt very natural. Government Fuel Economy Ratings come in at 24-City, 31-Highway, and 27-Combined. We managed a quite good 29.4 miles per gallon. The Energy Impact Score is average for all vehicles at 14.1-barrels of oil used and 6.4 tons of CO2 emitted annually.
You’ve heard our rave reviews before about recent Audi interiors, and the Q5 does nothing to dampen our fondness for the high quality materials, simplicity of design, and ease of use of its many high tech features; including the updated MMI Navigation Plus system.
Acceleration, especially at launch, is downright shocking in the Audi. The TDI is actually a tenth of a second faster to 30 mph than the SQ5, 1.7 seconds compared to a 1.8. Brake torqueing the TDI gives a little exhaust growl, but also a little whistle from the turbo spooling. Side step the brake pedal and all 428 lb-ft of torque twists through the driveline and yanks the ground from under you using all four contact patches. The first couple of launches were downright shocking in their force. It’s completely unexpected in a vehicle that looks so sedate.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel is no slouch getting to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 16.0 seconds at 83.3 mph. The Audi TDI however destroys it, blasting to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and ripping through the quarter-mile in 14.4 seconds at 92.8 mph. Well what about the Grand Cherokee with 5.7 liters of thumping of V-8? Nope, Audi still takes it to school with the V8 Jeep still needing 6.6 seconds to get to 60 mph and 14.9 seconds for the quarter, but it does match the Audi’s trap speed. So the moral of the story: unless you’re in the SRT Grand Cherokee, don’t mess with Audis at the stoplight grand prix.
Which leaves us with value. Let’s start with Motorweek:
It’s not all good news, however; as a TDI Q5 will cost you $47,395. That’s almost 10-grand over a base Q5 which starts at $38,195. Our tester, with options, was over 50-grand.
Is the TDI worth all of that extra coin? Well truth be told, our SUV money would probably go elsewhere as there are a lot of mid and even full-size choices for that kind of money. Although, if you’re even contemplating stepping up to a turbo diesel, but are hesitant due to price; our advice is don’t even test drive one. Because, once you get a taste of all the torque that the 2014 Audi Q5 TDI has to offer, you might get addicted too.
So the question is, if it came time to plunk down my hard-earned cash on either the TDI or the supercharged SQ5 which way would I go? Well, I think if it were my money, the TDI with S-Line package is the way to go. Not only would I feel better about using less fuel, but the fact that the TDI will easily surpass a 500 mile range on road trips is what makes it so attractive. There is also that deep down low diesel torque that makes it so effortless to accelerate in everyday situations.
My take? You know where I’m at. Give me a diesel every time, all the time.