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Like A Shotgun Off The Lights – The Audi Q5

September 28th, 2010

I was handed over the key to my black Audi Q5, with the disclaiming words… “Becareful, it’s fast.”

I thought to myself… “Thankyou. A) I know how to drive a fast car and B) I’ve driven cars like the Jaguar XKR and Mercedes C63, so don’t tell me how to drive!”

As I left the car park, I drove slowly out to the street, till I got to the lights. They turned green and the roads were clear. I floored it expecting nothing too exciting. Then BANG! after a 1 second delay (the car goes into neutral when you are stopped and apply the brake), the car shot like a gun, hitting 60 before I could even look down. My head was literally thrown back into the black leather headrest.

Ok… I should rewind back to the beginning. When I first saw the Audi Q5, I thought it was boring, drab and about as exciting to look at as the new Nissan Dualis. But then I saw one on the road which I hadn’t seen before. Black metallic paint, dark tinted windows, polished chrome trimmings, chrome side steps and enormous 22″ wheels. I did the double take. Then a squint of my eyes to see what it was – it was the Q5 to my suprise.

Off to Audi I went, with the expectation of being disappointed because the S5 Cabriolet disappointed me so much. But I test drove the Q5 and boy I was hooked.

So let’s fast forward back to where I was. This car has balls! Massive ones at that. For a 2.0 litre SUV, it has get up and go! The gearbox works away at ease, with the 7 speed steptronic transmission making gear changing, whether you’re in automatic or manual a silky ride. There are paddles behind the steering wheel if you choose not to change the gears at the centre console.

Exterior

Bold, agile and charismatic. If this car were a person, it would be Daniel Craig as James Bond. Smooth and fast. Functional and easy. Fun but also sensible. Beautiful lines. A toned body. And a big wide…. grille.

But it just depends on the model you get and how you customise it. Most of the Q5′s I’ve seen on the road look terrible. They have small wheels, terrible colour combinations and are the basic model, which looks like some sort of basic model Honda.

To make this car stand out – it needs to have a little more cash thrown at it and customised to make it look rough and sexy.

Interior

Opening the door, the height is perfect for me to glide in and out of, but with the feeling of sitting a little bit over everyone else. The leather seats are comfortable for short and long periods of driving whether it be traffic or freeway. My arms always have a place to rest with the adjustable sliding middle armrest, which is the lid to the centre console.

Infront of the centre console is a little feature I quite admire – the cooling and heating cup holders. Unlike you’re regular cooling or heating cup holders which just have a vent from the airconditioning, these ones actually have a heating element, and a refrigeration system in them, which gets super hot, and really cold!

The gears are easy to change if you are keeping it in automatic, but if you change it to steptronic and change the gears manually, it can get confusing as you naturally expect pushing the gear towards the dashboard would go up a gear, infact it goes down.

I found this same issue being on the infotainment system built into the dashboard with the large LCD screen. When you are selecting anything from radio, to iPod, the air conditioning or the telephone, the knob works the opposite way. This could have something to do with the changing of driving side perhaps for Australian roads. You’d expect to turn things down by turning the knob to the left, infact, it also works the opposite way. The steering wheel controls are very simple and clear to use, although anything on the steering wheel is to be viewed on the small screen between the speedo and tacho. So I sometimes forget which screen to look at.

Using the iPod/iPhone docking station in the glove compartment is a little stressful – you simply plug it in, that’s the easy part.You then control your music from the main LCD screen on the dash. As much as I loved this feature, that’s the hard part. The standard sound system is phenomenal! But if you opt for the Bang & Olufsen premium system, you are in for a special treat. This is one monster sound system. When you hear your favourite songs, it’s like hearing them brand new all over again. Amazing.

The airconditioning is easy to use, once you get used to it. Instead of just pressing one button to change fan speed or temperature, you need to select what you’d like to change, then change with the knob. So there’s 2 steps to doing a simple task – making you take your eyes off the road.

Rear seating is a little cramped, but is sufficient for a vehicle of it’s size. There is a fold down armrest with pop out cup holders which actually work!

Safety

Braking in this car is excellent. It’s stops as quickly as it took to take off. Airbags everywhere, warning lights and chimes to tell you to put your seatbelt on, service the car, and do all the bits and pieces most other cars tell you to do.

Front and rear parking sensors (optional), great internal and external lighting and a strong push button electronic parking brake, this car has the features most of it’s dearer contenders carry.

On and off road

On road it’s smooth and carries itself well. In a straight line.

But in an emergency where you may need to do tricky maneuvering with the steering wheel – goodluck. It lacks response and the “you point it and it will go” feeling. Over steer and unbalanced traction when accelerating heavily makes it feel a little unstable.

Off road, it’s simply not high enough to clear rough terrain. The simple gravel driveways, corrugated dirt roads and paddocks will be tackled easily, but anything more, and it will struggle.

Likes: It’s very pleasing to look at, if you have spent extra to customise it. The heated/cooled cupholders. The sound system. The looks you get once you’ve spent that extra money to make it look amazing – you get that look from people who are puzzled, it looks amazing, but what is it?

It’s very fuel economical. It’s only a 2.0 litre and the tank goes on and on. The sound of the engine when revved.

Great visibility from all angles. Comfortable steering wheel.

Dislikes: To do simple things like change the radio, temperature, fan, choose music – it takes several steps and takes your eyes off the road too much. The over-steer/under-steer and strange under/over traction.

Would I buy it? Of course! I love it. Make sure you get it with the panoramic glass roof, huge wheels and a gorgeous colour combination, and you will have a couple of years looking at it and still appreciating it’s sexiness.

Price: My one was Audi Q5 2.0L TFSI Quattro which was $71,500 after addition of wheels and a few extras.

Final say: I’m an Audi convert. I’m also an SUV convert. Being a convertible guy, I’ve easily slipped into the SUV club and I like it. You get just as many envious looks as you would in a convertible.

The Most Charming Newsreader Of All – Ricardo Goncalves

July 26th, 2010

Well dressed, witty humour, charasmatic and quick in his responses, it’s no wonder Ricardo Goncalves is a popular guy.

A Presenter/Reporter for SBS World News Australia and also coming from Sky News, Ricardo is an educated man, growing up on the South Coast of Sydney. He is a heavily researched reporter who knows his job inside out and takes pride in himself and the work he does.

I met Ricardo at a mutual friend’s dinner party, where he instantly charms both the men and women in the room. He is warm and approachable. He listens to people as much as you listen to him and as any educated communicator does, he asks questions about you and want’s to know what you have to say.

A very funny guy, who has substance, presence and charm, I’d like you to get to know more about him. This is Ricardo Goncalves…

What projects are you currently working on or have in the near future?

Right now I’m enjoying working as a presenter and reporter for SBS World News Australia after a long stint with Sky News Australia and Nine News Melbourne. It’s been a dramatic learning curve taking on the big global issues after years of business journalism.

I’m also very keen on the public speaking/MC circuit.

Who or what influences you most in Fashion and home décor?

When it comes to fashion, I’m known for being quite conservative, love my blacks, although I’m most comfortable in my Adidas gear. Let’s just say I’m very thankful for the wardrobe department at SBS. When it comes to the apartment, I’m very much a minimalist. I love clean lines and surfaces.

What is your favourite piece of clothing or accessory?

When it comes to dressing up, I’m a big fan of Farage, and a mate of mine, Donny Galella, does some great evening wear which I like also. Again though, show me something with the Adidas logo, and I’ll wear it.

Do you have one feature in your home you love most?

Does FOXTEL IQ2 count?

Which foods and drinks most excite your taste buds?

I’m very much a vodka, lime and soda kind of guy, but when the sun is out and the heat is on, then it’s a Hahn Super Dry. There’s also nothing better than that sound a can of Coke Zero makes when you open it.

What is your greatest extravagance?

iPhone. It’s one of those things you buy that you don’t really really need, but really really want.

Greatest lesson learnt?

Never write anything you don’t understand. As a junior reporter working for David Koch almost 10 years ago, I wrote a couple of financial terms in an article I thought I should include, because they sounded right, even though I didn’t know what they meant. Kochie then called me to ask me to explain to him what those terms were. I didn’t know. He then told me what he thought of that. From then on, I never wrote something I didn’t understand 100%

What advice would you give someone if they were thinking of a career in your industry?

Persist and persevere. My UAI wasn’t high enough to get into a well regarded Journalism degree, so I wrote dozens of letters to well known journos asking for their advice. Again, dozens actually wrote back and a couple suggested I do a business degree because there was a demand for business journalists. They were right. Also, getting work experience and learning on the road is in my opinion the best way to do it. When I was 17, I called WIN TV Wollongong once a fortnight asking for work experience. After six months, they eventually let me come in. I worked one day a week there, for free, putting stories to air, for two years before getting paid. Finally, don’t expect to start at the top. Get a good grounding about what journalism actually is and practise the craft of telling a story. I first started by holding a flecky board for another journo’s piece-to-cam. Don’t know what a flecky board is? Then you haven’t started at the bottom….

How do you maintain a life balance between work and home?

I am a news junkie, so I’m constantly flicking between the news programmes to compare their stories and presentation even at home. However, I’m keen on the gym and my shift work means I have my mornings free to have a bit of a life. I’m also very lucky to have weekends off, so I’ve always got time for myself, family and friends.

My Mother/Father always told me…

It’s not ok to spend your money frivolously, but it’s ok to spend money on good food.

Where is your favourite place to relax in Sydney?

I’ve got a couple of favourite breaky spots in Surry Hills and Potts Point that serve amazing coffee, brilliant breakfast and enough room on the table to have all of that, plus the newspaper spread out to read.

How often do you eat out and cook at home?

I haven’t located the stove at home yet….

Signature dish?

Does cereal count?

The one thing I can’t leave home without is…

My white gold neckchain and crucifix. It’s a gift from mum.

What frustrates you most about Sydney?

Peak hour traffic.

If you were Clover Moore, what would be the first thing you’d inject money into fixing?

Pushing the State Government for better transport infrastructure.

Favourite beach in Sydney and why?

North Bondi. Great place to chill and swim after doing the Bronte to Bondi walk..

Three pet hates?

1. Dog hair

2. People that stand at the end of an escalator

3. Selfish drivers

Where would be your ultimate holiday destination?

Anywhere on a beach in the Mediterranean or on the island of Madeira.

What is one quality you have, that you hope your children will get and carry through life?

Getting the balance of work, family and friends right.

When was the last time you cried? If you wish to divulge, why?

Watching Toy Story 3. The bond of a good friendship. Amazing.

What is a fashion trend you hope will never resurface?

Flouro colours. Enough said.

What car do you drive, best thing about the car and why you bought it?

A black Honda Civic Sport. Added a spoiler and blue lights to the interior of the car. Why did I buy it? I needed something a bit meatier than the green Suzuki Swift I had for years after being a poor University student.

If you were in a position where millions and millions of children globally admired you, what would be the one thing you would want to be a role model of?

Determination.

What is one of the most embarrassing moments you’ve had?

At Sky News presenters don’t often have time to pre-read and check scripts. One day, I read “paradigm” as “para-didg-im”. My colleagues have never let me forget that since.

Your best grooming tip?

With all the make up we use in the studio, getting it off is most important and moisturise…..well that’s what the make up girls at SBS said, so I just do what I’m told.

Keep an eye for Ricardo on SBS Evening News at 9:30pm.

For more information on Ricardo, contact romel@romelmanagement.com.au