More than just a badge: Audi Q5 S-Line – Review

When you get to a point in your successful life where you want to reward yourself by buying a luxury model, only a few brands come to mind. While the other brands are more or less top of mind, Audi seems to be the quiet one, content with being understated and not interested in shouting about how great it is.

In fact, when speaking to fellow car enthusiasts when an Audi model is mentioned in comparison to its biggest competitors we all generally lean towards the Audi, there’s just something appealing about a car a no-nonsense car brand that sticks to its core competencies and values.

I personally have been curious about the brand, whether or not the ‘I can’t be bothered’ attitude is warranted or if the brand is out of touch. I got my answer with the Audi Q5 S-Line.

Audi Q5 S-Line Exterior

When brand representatives told me that I’d be lent the Q5 I was ‘mixed’ because it’s an SUV, and SUVs in general don’t necessarily get my blood flowing with excitement. When I arrived at the dealership though, and saw the gleaming, sleek, and menacing stance of the Q5 S-Line I immediately lost the ability to speak.

2023 Audi Q5 S Line Exterior Front

A normal Q5 would blend into everyday traffic perfectly, but the S-Line trim gives it more presence. The 21-inch cast aluminum rims give you the idea that this SUV isn’t for puttering around the Metro, while the aggressively sculpted lines and front fascia show that the Q5 means business in every way. It’s still the quintessential Audi, below-the-radar looks but a looker nonetheless.

2023 Audi Q5 S Line Interior Dashboard


At first glance, the interior might not look exciting, there are no out-of-this-world lines, designs, and colors to ‘wow’ anybody. It’s only when you experience it as a whole do you get just how nice it is to be in, the leather and other materials used on the panel feel so premium and a class above the rest in terms of quality.

2023 Audi Q5 S Line Interior Passenger Second Row

The fit and finish are also very good, every single button feels solid to press and requires an exertion of force to engage some of the toggle switches. The Q5 scoffs at this world of flimsy interiors, furthermore, I love how the Q5 isn’t a button-infested vehicle, every single button found in the interior has a specific and necessary purpose, and the word clutter seems like a big no-no for the brand.

2023 Audi Q5 S Line Interior Seats

In terms of creature comforts, the Q5 has enough just to make you feel like a pampered king or queen. Underneath the black S-Line trimmed front seats are a massage function that actually relaxes you as you waft or blast through any road, while the fully digital instrument cluster and infotainment systems both give out crisp and vivid displays that are soothing to the eyes. It also comes with wireless charging, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

2023 Audi Q5 S Line Interior Speakers Audio System Bang And Olufsen

And if you’re into music, the outstanding Bang and Olufsen multi-speaker sound system gives you the impression that there’s no need to buy concert tickets anymore.

2023 Audi Q5 S Line Engine

Engine and Performance

Powering the Q5 S-Line is the familiar 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Turbocharged Gasoline (TSFI) engine with a 48V mild hybrid system that makes 265HP and 370Nm of torque, it has the 7-speed S-tronic transmission that transfers the power to the 4-wheels via the legendary Audi Quattro system.

2023 Audi Q5 S Line Emblem Exterior

Driving Impressions

The thing about the Audi Q5 S-Line is that it manages to be every single thing you want in a car. At first in the city, it is very docile and laid back, the quietness of the engine makes you think if it’s really a gas guzzler or an electric powerplant, while the NVH levels are very very good at keeping the cabin serene and peaceful despite the usual hustle and bustle of the Metro.

The ride is also decent even if it leans towards the stiffer side because of the S-Line package, and despite it being always all-wheel-drive it sips fuel, registering a decent 8km/l in gridlock traffic conditions. While cruising on the highway got it as high as 13km/l.

2023 Audi Q5 S Line Exterior Side

While it can perfectly waft along at comfortable speeds in ultimate comfort and luxury, one would be mistaken in thinking that the Q5 S-Line is just a country club cruiser. The Audi Q5 S-Line is also capable of setting your pants on fire…

A few toggles enable the car to be set into ‘Dynamic’ mode which is essentially the brand’s sports setting. In this mode the the throttle response is in ‘jacked up on energy drinks’ mode, the steering becomes heavier and the dampers adjust to become stiffer (Yes, it has adjustable dampers).

2023 Audi Q5 S Line Exterior Rims Wheels

I was skeptical that something this big and heavy would be able to move ‘dynamically’, but boy was I wrong, the power delivery is meaty and it surges you forward as if it were the size of a hot hatchback, and the stiff dampers do help eliminate the body roll issue found in most tall SUVs. The steering tuning is also otherworldly, it’s light and nimble but manages to be direct and full of road feel, I kid you not when I say I could feel every road blemish through the steering wheel.

In terms of handling, besides the minimized body roll, the Q5 S-Line and the legendary Quattro system keep the vehicle planted in all conditions, taking long sweeping corners at speed barely upsets the car at all, I felt like my face would rip off before the Q5 breaks traction. The overall driving characteristics are truly something to marvel at, I bet that the Q5 S-Line could give chase to some sports cars up a mountain road, it just really hides its heft so well.

Points for improvement

I do have some gripes with the Audi Q5, firstly at this price point customers would expect a full suite of adaptive driving safety systems, but the Q5 lacks most of those features. Lastly, it also has no panoramic sunroof which some people really look for in vehicles nowadays.

2023 Audi Q5 S Line Exterior Grill Quattro


Lack of ADAS and sunroof aside, the Audi Q5 S-Line is worth the pretty penny you pay for it. It tackles the world of comfort, luxury, and practicality without the compromise of driving fun and performance. Understated it may be, but the Q5 is just as good as any of its competitors out there, and in some aspects better.

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo's first word was probably "Car", and this has developed into a personal passion that has consumed his professional life as well.

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