With emissions of 160g/km, the new hybrid is only 2g/km cleaner than the 2.0 TDI diesel-powered Q5. There’s no doubt Audi will charge a premium for this model, too – so apart from the fact it delivers performance on a par with the 3.2 TFSI petrol, but combines it with improved economy, the petrol-electric version doesn’t really offer much benefit to UK buyers. We’d recommend the regular oil-burning variants ahead of the hybrid every time. However, if you do go for this model – and Audi is unlikely to have too much difficulty shifting its newcomer – you’ll have few sacrifices, other than the price, to make you feel as though you are doing your bit for the planet.
As Audi offers such a wide range of class-leading diesel engines, you wouldn’t expect hybrid power to be a top priority. But the German company is always keen to exceed expectations – and is about to become the first car maker to launch a small SUV fitted with a petrol-electric drivetrain.
Auto Express drove the Q5 Hybrid in frozen Montreal, Canada, to see what buyers can look forward to when it goes on sale here in the summer. The car represents Audi’s petrol-electric debut, and uses the now familiar 211bhp 2.0-litre TFSI petrol turbo.
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Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Audi Q5
It’s a tried and tested unit that powers a whole host of Audis, including the A3, A4, A5 and TT, not to mention a host of VW models, including the Golf GTI. Here it’s supplemented by a 33 Kilowatt electric motor that sits in the engine bay where the automatic model’s torque converter usually lives. Both motors transfer their power via a clutch through a heavily modified eight-speed Tiptronic auto box.
As with other hybrids, the powerplants operate together or individually, depending on the circumstances. And they’re set up so that this Q5 can cover nearly two miles and reach a top speed of 62mph using the electric motor alone.
During our time with the car, we never managed more than a couple of hundred metres on electricity. But when the petrol engine cuts in, it does so smoothly and unobtrusively. In fact, it makes for refined and relaxing progress.
The electric motor also acts as a generator, recovering energy during braking and recharging the battery. This makes its presence felt when you hit the brake pedal, by giving you extra deceleration. But when you’re driving, it’s just about the only giveaway that this Q5 is a hybrid.
A Toyota Prius
-style status graphic on the sat-nav screen shows the flow of energy around the vehicle, too, although it’s probably best ignored anyway, as it can make for rather distracting viewing!
Considering the combined output of both motors is a healthy 245bhp, the Q5 Hybrid doesn’t feel particularly powerful. Peak torque is 480Nm, which puts pulling power second only to the 3.0 TDI. But this model doesn’t seem much quicker than the 2.0 TDI, and we’d estimate its 0-60mph time at around 7.5 seconds – quick but not spectacular.
The relative lack of pace given the impressive power and torque figures is doubtless a result of the extra 130kg the batteries and hybrid system add to the car. Still, the Q5 will cruise quietly at motorway speeds, and as it uses a conventional auto, you don’t get any of the high revving associated with hybrid models fitted with CVT transmissions.
Elsewhere, you’d struggle to tell the difference between this and a conventional Q5. The cabin has the same peerless quality we have come to expect of Audis. In fact, the only sacrifice will be for drivers who want to store things under the boot floor, because that’s where the battery is.
Rival: Freelander TD4_e
Stop-start, two-wheel-drive Land Rover can’t match the Audi for power or build quality, but with emissions of 158g/km, it’s marginally cleaner. And at £21,995, it will definitely be a lot cheaper than the Q5 Hybrid.