KIDS always seem to deliver the killer questions with uncanny timing.
“Do you mind driving in the dark,” said one as we hurtled across the Pennines, the car loaded to the hilt with student swag.
The words ‘not at all’ had barely left my mouth when the mist descended, the wind whipped up and hailstones slammed against the windscreen.
An occasion when I was glad to be behind the wheel of a solid 4x4 rather than one of those vehicles – and there are still quite a few around – that feel uneasily vulnerable in this sort of weather.
What’s sensible about the Audi Q5 though, is it’s a prestige SUV that’s smaller and more manageable than full-blown monsters like the Q7, yet still boasts comfort and space. And of course it’s less expensive too.
The clever bit is that by using a long wheelbase and quattro permanent all-wheel drive, Audi has produced an SUV which drives more like a sports saloon. And let’s face it, these cars aren’t going to be heading much further off-road than an urban retail park.
Then there are high-tech options like a ‘drive select’ adaptive system which enables the driver to fine-tune the car’s dynamics, including suspension, steering, throttle response and transmission shift points via dashboard-mounted controls to suit prevailing road conditions – or should that read Pennine road conditions.
Three diesel engines – a 2.0-litre TDI unit producing 143 or 170ps plus a 3.0 TDI – plus a pair of TFSI petrol powerplants comprise the Q5 line-up with Standard, SE and top grade S line trim levels.
The tested model was equipped with the higher powered of the 2.0-litre oil-burners, a strong and near-silent engine that, for an automatic, returned a reasonable 38 miles per gallon compared to the official figure of 41.5mpg.
Performance from this model is sufficient rather than stunning, albeit delivered with trademark Audi qualities – surefooted and confident.
The well crafted five-seater cabin has adjustable rear seats - easy enough to fold down via remote release levers in the luggage compartment – which can boost the load capacity to 1,560 litres. And that’s not far off the space you get in an A6 Avant estate.
All Q5 models are well kitted out, and especially S line, but there’s a baffling amount of stuff on the options list. In fact the tested model had extras totalling £8,825 ranging from hill hold assist at £65 to a seven-speed S tronic transmission at £1,4500.
If you’re prepared to splash out the sort of money it costs to buy a Q5 in the first place, then it makes sense to at least include the technology pack.
This is the latest evolution of Audi’s Multi Media Interface infotainment control system which is no longer reliant on DVD, instead deriving its info from a hard disc drive that can also store up to 4,000 songs as MP3 files.
Change from £2,000 is only a fiver, but included in there is a TV tuner, speech control, Bluetooth, iPod connection, electric tailgate, parking system and high resolution sat-nav.
Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro S line
Mechanical: 168bhp, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox
Max speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Combined mpg: 41.5
Insurance group: 14
CO2 emissions: 179g/km
BiK rating: 27%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles