Compromise is an essential part of life even if the parties involved believe they’ll end up with less than they might expect. But driver concessions are not part of the deal with Audi’s transformed Q5, which brings electricity into the internal combustion mix along with improved delivery of safety, performance and dynamics.
Audi’s Q5 SUV is its best-selling model globally, so it’s no surprise it became the next plug-in hybrid (PHEV) introduced to Australia following the 2015 rollout of Audi’s A3 e-tron. We recently drove the Q5 55 TSFI e quattro and Sportback PHEV variants in Queensland at a national media showcase event. These are our thoughts.
Lavish Design: A Statement of Elegance
At first glance, the Q5 TSFI e is easy on the eye, its striking design elevated by the standard inclusion of the S line exterior package, its S front and rear bumpers, grille, and a tailgate spoiler lending it a more aggressive stance. Subtle red brake calipers amplify the five-spoke cutter design of the large 20-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels.
Jumping in, our Audi convoy wound its way west from Brisbane through the D’aguilar National Park down to the enchanting hinterland of the Gold Coast. The varying conditions provided ample opportunity to determine which of Audi’s typically user-friendly features we liked best. There were a few.
Capability Meets Comfort: A Match Made in Heaven
Inside, Audi has never skimped on the tech front without making things complicated like other European brands somehow manage to do. The three-zone climate control, for example, isn’t buried in a touchscreen interface but within easy reach of the driver. The comprehensive Virtual Cockpit features a configurable digital gauge cluster including a 12.3-inch view of the vehicle’s speed, phone control and trip computer, and a navigation map is still one of the best in the business.
The Q5’s convenient size and stylish looks will see it continue to appeal to both families and empty nesters. But it’s not just about looking fabulous; this car is equipped with a 4WD system that makes a mockery of changing weather conditions, ensuring ongoing comfort regardless of where your road takes you – be it through the city or on an off-road adventure.
Performance: Unleash Your Inner Speedster
And it turns out that this is the most powerful Q5 ever. Even though our test car featured a 4-cylinder engine, the vehicle’s power and torque when combined with the might of its electric motor produced output more in line with that of a sports-tuned 6-cylinder engine. The resulting performance betters even the SQ5. Audi claims the hybrid makes the 0-100km/h dash in a claimed 5.3 seconds, nicking a second off the petrol SQ5, but still not as quick as the diesel variant’s 5.1s.
Safety Crafted: Peace of Mind on Every Road
The car comes with a comprehensive range of safety features as standard, including the non-negotiable (in our view) adaptive cruise control system. Audi pre-sense city, active lane assist, and an array of other advanced systems ensure the Q5 delivers not just a dynamic drive, but a sense of security, too.
From Everyday to Extraordinary
This is good news when you switch the car from Comfort or Eco Drive Mode to Dynamic Mode. Immediately, capabilities more typical of a sport-tuned variant kick in – tighter suspension, sharper handling, better cornering, and an overall more engaging driving experience.
The electric functionality is clever, too, allowing the driver to switch between four modes ranging from emissions-free, purely electric power to a more conventional drive for highway driving or longer distances.
When the navigation’s route guidance system is active, the car makes those decisions for you by automatically switching into Hybrid Mode. Here the vehicle draws on masses of data including online traffic information, distance to the destination, and the types of roads and topography expected to be encountered along the way, to distribute the battery charge across the route.
Not only does this save on fuel consumption, but the predictive operating strategy aims to drive the final urban segment of the route on electric power, allowing for an emission-free arrival at your destination.
Hinterland Heaven: Peace and Serenity
In our case, that was a secluded private country retreat on the Scenic Rim called Beechmont Estate. In the last leg of our journey, as we made our approach through a darkening canopy of tree-lined roads, a tropical downpour welcomed us, highlighting the Q5’s resilience, grip, and stability in challenging conditions.
As we pulled up, the only evidence of pollutants was the smell of burning wood from the fireplace to which we retired as the vehicles were plugged in for the night. It takes just 2.5 hours to fully recharge an empty battery on a 7.2kWh AC home wall box, while in-car cables can be used to charge more slowly via a 240-volt powerpoint.
The next day, we woke to a cacophony of birdsong so unfamiliar to our urban ears. As we left, we did so in the knowledge we had been able to come and go from this ancient place leaving a reduced emission footprint, but without compromising on our dynamic driving experience.
Pricing and Royalty: Fit For a Queen
At $102,900 for the Q5 55 TFSI e quattro S ($110,200 for the Q5 Sportback), the car sits confidently at the higher end of its competitors including the Volvo XC60 Recharge Ultimate, Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e, and Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport Plug-in.
The Q5 TSFI e is available now in Audi dealerships complete with a five-year warranty, and a 12-year manufacturer warranty for bodywork corrosion perforation.