2009-2012 Audi Q5:
This posh wagon is a dream ? until something goes wrong

Reliability issues and oil consumption woes mar refined compact SUV

“I know that door well,? reads the caption beneath a photo posted on an Audi club website. The photo is the entrance to an Audi service department.

Another online forum discusses an oil consumption problem with the 2.0T turbocharged gas engine that powers numerous Audi and Volkswagen models. Many blame poor-quality piston rings; others have suggested out-of-round cylinder bores.

?I work at Volkswagen and I have done a lot of ring jobs on the FSI (2.0T engine) over the past few years. Audi next door does them almost daily,? claims one forum post.

Has Audi technik vorsprung a leak?

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Despite some mechanical setbacks, Audi has seen its sales soar in recent years, trading largely on its cool styling and sumptuous interiors. The automaker launched its Q5 in 2009 to win sales in the nascent premium compact sport-utility segment.

The five-passenger wagon employs Volkswagen?s Modular Longitudinal Platform (MLP), which debuted with the 2007 A5 coupe and now underpins most Audi models.

Inside, the Q5 borrows heavily from the A4 sedan, as the dashboard and instruments are nearly identical ? hardly faint praise, as many shoppers consider Audi?s interiors among the industry?s best. A third-generation MMI multifunction controller resides between the front seats, a somewhat better interface than BMW?s dreaded iDrive.

Backseat occupants get a split-folding bench that slides forward or backward to increase legroom, along with a reclining backrest. A few Q5 owners judged backseat legroom lacking just the same. Cargo room is modest, but that?s par for the segment.

Curiously, the side mirrors are rather large appendages; some drivers complained they block the view towards the front corners. Others disliked the compromised sightlines out the back window.

Initially, the Q5 came with just one powertrain: a DOHC 3.2 L V6 making 270 hp and 243 lb.-ft. of torque tied to a six-speed automatic transmission. Also standard was Audi?s Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which normally split torque 40/60 front to rear, but could redirect as much as 65 per cent to the front tires and 85 per cent to the rear, as driving conditions warranted. Maximum towing capacity was 2,000 kg (4,400 lb.).

The Q5 received a new base engine for 2011: the turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0 L four-cylinder found in many other Audi/VW models. It made 211 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of grunt. Also made standard was a new eight-speed automatic transmission.


Whether equipped with the 270-hp V6 or the 211-hp turbo four, the Q5 is a remarkably adept driving machine. The 3.2 model can sprint to highway velocity in 6.5 seconds, while the lighter (by 110 kg) four-cylinder model is a mere half-second behind.

Braking and skidpad (grip) numbers are exceptional for both, and the ride quality is firm but never harsh, in the Teutonic tradition. The Quattro AWD system is always at the ready to compensate for any overly enthusiastic driver inputs.

Fuel economy is about as good as anyone can expect of a two-ton sport utility: 12.5 L/100 km using premium grade. The turbo may yield slightly better numbers, but only with a light foot on the throttle.

In comparison tests by a major magazine, the Q5 3.2 finished first in 2009 and second in a recent test comparing turbo-four luxury utes (BMW?s X3 prevailed).


Q5 owners are largely a gushing lot who love their rides for their refinement, posh accoutrements, AWD traction and envy-inducing badge value. Everything?s great, until something goes wrong.

?To be stuck on the side of the road three times with the oil light on is not very comforting,? posted one frustrated Q5 2.0T owner.

Audi states oil consumption of up to half a litre per 1,000 km is acceptable, depending on operating conditions. When pressed, Audi has sprung for ring jobs.

Beyond oil consumption, the Q5 has exhibited some other problems, including failed water pumps and fuel pumps, broken air conditioners, jerky transmissions, faulty LED lighting, bad radios and assorted warning lamps. Reliability has been below average, notes Consumer Reports.

The optional front sunroof glass panel on 2012 model-year Q5s is susceptible to shattering in extremely cold temperatures. Because falling glass could injure drivers and passengers, Audi has issued a recall.

Overall, a new Q5 makes for a fetching lease, but used-car shoppers may not embrace the costly post-warranty issues.

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Second-hand: 2009-?12 Audi Q5

WHAT?S BEST: Great all-round performance, business-class interior, oozes refinement.

WHAT?S WORST: Tight back seat, overly complex MMI, 2.0T fond of oil.

TYPICAL GTA PRICES: 2009: $27,000, 2012: $34,000

  • 2009-2012 Audi Q5:<br>This posh wagon is a dream ? until something goes wrong ON 29-OCT-09, AT 3:51 PM, PETER BLEAKNEY WROTE: On 29-oct-09, at 3:51 pm, peter bleakney wrote:
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