words and photos: Ryan Ponto
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Q1_2022 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.
It was 2015 and Melissa, fresh out of school and ready to ride in style, began looking for a vehicle. Given her at-the-time boyfriend (now husband) had already rooted himself firmly in the German automotive world, it only made sense that she stay true to form. So, after a bit of searching, she purchased her first car, an Ibis White 2013 Q5 S-line. Until now, all of their adventures together had been on the highways and twisty corners in Ryan’s lowered A3. It was fantastic but perhaps a tad limited when the two wanted to go camping. Enter the Q5. Paired with a Thule roof box, it was the perfect camping machine, and yet still amazing on the highways and twisties Ryan preferred. For the next two years, they clocked many road trips in the Q5 and eventually added their first furry co-pilot, Finn, to tag along on their countless adventures.
By 2018, it was time for an upgrade. This they found at Southgate Audi in Edmonton where Ryan’s friend Bryan helped them into an inbound 2018 Q5…again an Ibis White S-line. The road trips and adventures continued in comfort and style; Finn always eager to hop in for the next trip. But there was a dilemma; Ryan and Melissa love to mountain bike. Taking off down a trail though, one can’t just leave a Golden Retriever to chill in a tent in bear country or the heat. In 2019, the Q5 gained a tail when a 2019 Airstream Basecamp X was acquired and dubbed “The Tin Palace”. At 16-feet 3-inches long and a dry weight of 2,700 lbs, it was the perfect pairing with the Q5 since neither Ryan nor Melissa wanted to give up their Audi.
Given the evolving intent for the Q5, Ryan had been thinking about the towing, performance, and trailering. The first step seemed obvious; the Basecamp X comes from factory with a 3-inch lift, so it would stand to reason that the Q5 could use a similar lift of its own. Lucky for Ryan, he stumbled upon H&R’s lifted B9 Q5 project, inspiring his plans for his own Adventure Q. After some back and forth with H&R, he was able to confirm their 1.5-inch lift springs had a stiffer rate than the OEM springs, a perfect upgrade for both the height and stiffness to handle the tongue weight of the Airstream. Dubsport in Edmonton was tasked with the install, giving the Q5 a subtle change in height and noticeable improvement in feel and handling.
The first summer of new adventures with Finn and the Tin Palace in tow passed amazingly as they chalked up a little over 50 nights in the trailer. With winter approaching, both Ryan and Melissa were a little bummed that the camping season was coming to an end…. or so they thought. After a few discussions with friends and research, Melissa found a new sport and new adventure – split boarding! This meant the Adventure Q and Tin Palace now went from a seasonal paring to year-round adventure rig. Winter camping came easy with the Q5, its heated seats and steering wheel taking the chill off whilst towing and once at their destination, the Tin Palace quickly fired up and remained toasty even when the temperatures dip down to -35 Celsius.
When Spring returned, the second piece of the plan finally came into fruition with the help of Wheels Plus. The pair sought larger tires under the Q5, but not having them poking out beyond the fenders would require they downsize from the stock 20-inch wheels to 17-inch. There was concern that 17s might not clear the Q5’s 4-piston brakes but Black Rhino Wheels came to the rescue and allowed them to order the wheels for a test fit. With only a few millimeters to spare, they were good to go. These were fitted with Falken Wildpeak AT3s. Based on Ryan’s measurements and checking sizes, it looked like they would be able to upsize the tires from the factory 29.1” (255/45R20) to 30.1” (255/65R17), but it was going to be even tighter than the brake clearance. Lucky for them they fit so now the adventures continue as they head out to explore more off-grid locations, now supported by full solar on the Basecamp and with the increased confidence that the improved Adventure Q has to offer.
Ryan and Melissa still have plans for the Q5, his eye on some 034Motorsport goodies to help stiffen up the Q5 for towing stability and, if all goes well, a nice little bump in power via a tune.