Through unbearable heat, to torrential storms, harsh winds and calming breezes, every time we stepped back into the Audi Q5 it was as if the elements were obsolete. We dubbed it the mobile bio dome and we called her Alexandra.
Her Monsoon Metallic Grey exterior glistened in the sun, but seemed to fool the rain as it careened down Highway 416 North as we drove towards Oxford Mills – a quiet country farm town about 30 minutes southwest of Ottawa. Rolling through long stretches of the 401, I changed cruise control speeds with the flick of a steering wheel wand rather than the throttle. Asking my friendly navigation system for directions to the local points of interest or head bopping to non-stop jams on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Alt Nation. Alexandra was a capsule of beauty, a haven on the highway.
Despite a less than stellar highway fuel economy (advertised as 7.2L/100km highway, but ran more like 9.1L/100km) we still made it the 350km distance on just under a half tank. Impressive.
Once she left the smooth, graded pavement of the highway and had to navigate through rutted country back roads I figured some part of her character had to falter. Fact is, especially compared to the 14-year old suspension in my everyday driver, the upright riding SUV and its adaptive damping suspension made for a cushy romp through the potholes.
As rainclouds moved in or out, or when the stars finally decided to come out of hiding on my second night, the backseat gremlins got a stunning view of the earth’s ceiling through the huge panoramic sunroof. If it were another season – and I’d love nothing more than to be piloting a Q5 on my way to a ski chalet – everyone would have heated seats and personal climate control. They can recline their cushions in the back and the trunk size is tremendous.
After touring through Ottawa on day three, I noticed that the Q5 looked and felt just as at home in the concrete jungle as when surrounded by golden wheat fields. For lengthy journeys or short jaunts, Alexandra was an all-around joy to drive. Only 211 horsepower emitted from her 2.0L, 4-cylinder engine, but it didn’t feel trinket-like or punchy or weak for her rather large frame. Pop into the 8-speed tiptronic mode and she’d let out a growl when called upon. But she purred softly when peace was appreciated.
The most disagreeable part about having the Audi Q5 for a few days was the troubling knowledge that I’d have to return her before long. No longer would I have the luxury of a hands-free Bluetooth system that actually works, or a seemingly endless amount of trunk space for my unavoidable over-packing. I’d be without my night defying Xenon headlights, and worst of all I’d be exposed to the elements once again.