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by George Skentzos

Audi has officially launched its new Q5 performance SUV to complement the existing Q7 model in its range as a smaller and more sports oriented SUV for families with an active lifestyle.

The new Audi Q5 is set to make its Australian debut in the second quarter of 2009 sporting three engine combinations and quattro permanent all-wheel drive suited for spirited driving both on and off road.

With shorter proportions in every direction – and a height of just 1.65m – the Audi Q5 boasts sedan-like handling with a drag coefficient of just 0.33 – the most streamlined its category.

2009 Audi Q5 sports SUV launched

Internationally at least, the Q5 will feature three engines in its line-up – one petrol and two TDI diesels – all of which are direct injected and turbocharged.

The first is Audi’s four-cylinder 2.0 TFSI unit boasting peak power of 155kW and 350Nm between 1500 and 4200rpm, launching the Q5 to 100km/h in 7.2 seconds whilst maintaining fuel consumption of just 8.5 litres per 100 km.

The first of the diesel options is a 2.0 TDI engine which develops an identical 350Nm to the TFSI unit between 1750 and 2500rpm with peak power of 125kW.

2009 Audi Q5 sports SUV launched

Acceleration is considerably slower with 100km/h coming up on the speedo after 9.5 seconds, however fuel consumption is dramatically improved – just 6.7 litres per 100km.

The range-topping 3.0 TDI V6 is the most powerful in the range, developing 176kW and 500Nm from 1500rpm, hauling the Q5 to 100km/h in just 6.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 225km/h whilst maintaining fuel consumption of just 7.5 litres of fuel per 100km.

2009 Audi Q5 sports SUV launched

The 2.0 TDI features a six-speed transmission while the remaining models in the range receive Audi’s new generation seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission with paddle shift.

The new Q5 comes with quattro permanent all-wheel drive as standard, distributing engine power 40:60 between the front and rear wheels – diverting up to 65 percent of torque to the front wheels, or as much as 85 percent to the rear.

In rough terrain, the Q5 boasts climbing performance as sharp as 31 degrees, approach and departure angles of 25 degrees, ground clearance of 20cm and a wading depth of up to 50cm.

2009 Audi Q5 sports SUV launched

The standard-fit intelligent ESP system allows for spirited performance on-road whilst also offering special ABS calibrations for maximum traction off-road which incorporates a sensor to detect any roof load which would raise the Q5’s centre of gravity – crucial with a load limit of up to 100kg.

These features are available at the push of a button through the Audi drive select control system which also manages the engine’s throttle response, the power assistance for the steering and the S tronic shift points in automatic mode.

 2009 Audi Q5 sports SUV launched

This system can also be extended with two other innovative technologies – electronic control for the shock absorbers, and Audi dynamic steering to manage a direct ratio at low speed and an indirect ratio at high speed.

Standard interior creature comforts include such items as automatic air conditioning and an audio system with eight speakers, with the top specification adding MMI navigation plus with hard drive and DVD drive, a Bluetooth phone, a TV tuner, an intelligent speech control system, digital radio reception, an interface for an iPod or MP3 player with USB connection and a high-end sound system from Bang & Olufsen.

Click through for Audi Q5 gallery.