Audi Q5 review - Engines, performance and drive
Excellent cruising refinement, but despite a composed chassis and comfortable suspension, the Q5 isn't the most involving drive
The Q5 focuses on being safe, composed and comfortable to drive, and it makes a good fist of it, too. We’ve tried cars fitted with the most expensive chassis set-up (adaptive dampers with air suspension) – but despite the cost, the ride felt unsettled on British roads.
On large wheels, potholes tend to thud into the cabin, and the car doesn't feel settled at speed. Although it's not uncomfortable, it can't match the Mercedes GLC for ride quality. It’s predictable, easy to drive quickly and happy enough to change direction if you’re throwing the Q5 between corners.
What it is not, however, is overly thrilling. That’s because the steering in particular is short on feedback; it’s easy enough to trust, and accurate enough for you to place the Q5 into a corner with confidence. But it doesn’t really give you much of a sensation of what the front wheels are doing and how they’re interacting with the road surface below.
The roughest surfaces encountered by the average Q5 are likely to be a particularly dusty corner of a Waitrose car park, but should the driver get desperately lost and end up on a gravel track, they can have confidence in the car’s ability. It’s not exactly a Land Rover Discovery Sport in terms of off-road prowess, but it’s capable enough for the majority of situations. This is particularly true if the air suspension is specified, because it can lift the car up to maximise its ride height over rocks and mud.
Car group tests
- Audi Q5 vs Volvo XC60 vs Hyundai Santa Fe: 2021 group test review
- Audi Q5 TFSI e vs Volvo XC60 T8
- Audi Q5 vs Jaguar F-Pace
- Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Mercedes GLC
Used car tests
As with lots of Audis, the Q5 has a wide variety of dynamic settings available through its ‘Drive Select’ button. This allows you to select different modes that affect everything from the throttle response and traction control systems to the gearbox mapping and steering weight. The two settings you’ll flick between on roads are ‘Comfort’ and ‘Dynamic’ - although there is a further option, ‘Efficiency’, which stymies the throttle response further in a bid to eke out better fuel economy.
It is also possible to mix your favourite settings from key elements of the car - ‘Dynamic’ steering but ‘Comfort’ suspension, for example - and store these under an ‘Individual’ setting that’s just as easy to select as the manufacturer presets.
The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is excellent, with rapid, smooth shifts and software that does a decent job of kicking down when necessary. You can always override the system, too, by flicking paddles behind the steering wheel to shift manually.
The Q5 is quiet on the move, with the plug-in hybrid models delivering a smooth transition from electric power to firing up the combustion engine. Select hybrid mode, and the Q5 will err towards utilising its battery power, although it will cross over to the petrol engine under stronger acceleration.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
The 2020 facelift introduced mild-hybrid technology for the standard Q5 petrol and diesel versions, bringing improvements in power, performance and overall efficiency.
The entry-level 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit now produces 261bhp (up from 247bhp), while the 2.0-litre oil-burner delivers 201bhp (up from 187bhp). That’s a 14bhp increase over the (pre-facelift) diesel model and it now includes a new 12-volt mild-hybrid system, which uses a belt-driven starter-generator (BSG) to deliver a little extra power and torque to assist with pulling away. The diesel is our pick of the range, as it's punchy enough, efficient and reasonably refined - managing the 0-62mph sprint in 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 137mph.
Company car users – and private owners looking for plug-in hybrid flexibility – will be best served by the TFSI e models. The 362bhp 55 TFSI e version is no longer available on the Q5 price list, but there’s plenty of performance on tap from the 295bhp 50 TFSI e, while real-world economy will be respectable if you keep the batteries topped up. Select Hybrid mode and the Q5 does a great job of juggling between conventional and electric power more or less imperceptibly.
0-62mph for the 50 TFSI e version takes 6.1 seconds, with the 55 variant managing the same dash in an impressive 5.3 seconds and a 149mph maximum. The SQ5 just pips the top-spec plug-in hybrid by delivering a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.1 seconds.
In this review
- 1VerdictThe Audi Q5 is refined and comfortable, but other SUV rivals offer a bit more involvement and agility
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingExcellent cruising refinement, but despite a composed chassis and comfortable suspension, the Q5 isn't the most involving drive
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsLighter construction, 'on-demand' quattro four-wheel drive and revised engines should deliver good efficiency
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe facelifted Q5 cabin remains smart, functional and beautifully finished, with improved levels of standard equipment
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceComfort and visibility are first-rate, although the Q5's boot space is only average for the premium SUV class
- 6Reliability and SafetyAudi has equipped the Q5 with plenty of safety kit, while a strong NCAP rating provides peace of mind
- 7Long term reviewFinal report: plug-in hybrid Audi Q5 rocked our man’s world for five months