SINGAPORE – Desperate times call for desperate measures. In the face of stratospheric certificate of entitlement (COE) prices and amplified registration taxes, Audi has brought in cars with less power than before, such as the Q5 Sportback 2.0.
The car has 204hp and 320Nm of torque from a detuned engine. It hits 100kmh in 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 223kmh. It sits alongside a 249hp/370Nm variant which was launched two years ago, and which hits the century mark in 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 237kmh.
At $320,027, the lesser car is $23,437 less costly than its more powerful twin, which is still available in the showroom.
Elsewhere, the 204hp Q5 Sportback compares well against its closest rival, the BMW X4 xDrive20i, which is priced at $360,888 and which has 181hp.
The 204hp Q5 Sportback – a quattro all-wheel drive like its beefier namesake – is still an eminently drivable car, with electric-like torque flowing powerfully the moment you step on the pedal. Throttle response is predictable and wonderfully linear, giving the car a lightness and spontaneity which elude many other turbocharged cars.
While not as bristling as the 249hp car, it has no problem at all keeping up with others on the road. It is adequately breezy at low engine speeds, which is crucial to drivability in an urban setting. On highways, it has enough reserves for reasonably quick overtaking. Even its adaptive cruise control is responsive enough to close up gaps in traffic, which you cannot count on all cars equipped with this feature to do.
Perhaps the car’s power deficit will come into play during more demanding tasks such as lane-switching or passing on Malaysia’s fast-flowing North South Highway. But a top speed of 223kmh is still pretty respectable.
In Singapore, the car i...