Relaxed gait, refined manners, avoids falling through the 'too sporty' trapdoor
Pricey, especially with spec, and compromised space in PHEV. Updated touchscreen worse than it was before
What is it?
The Q5 has done the numbers for Audi ever since it came out in 2008, selling in vast quantities pretty much everywhere it’s available. In fact the old one was, says the company, the “world’s best-selling premium mid-size” SUV for some six years, ahead of the BMW X3, Mercedes GLC/GLK and the Q5's Porsche Macan cousin.
The current, second-generation Q5 went on sale in the UK in 2017, and had a facelift midway through 2020. Based on the same ‘MLB’ platform as the A4, A5 and so on, in Audi’s range it sits above the smaller Q3 but under the seven-seat Q7. Key improvements over the old Q5 are in the areas you’d expect – up to 90kg less weight thanks to much aluminium, better economy, more tech.
What else is new?
New for the facelift, besides revised LED light clusters and the mandatory 'more grille' styling tweaks, is a 12-volt mild-hybrid boost that makes the start-stop system more effective, aiding fuel economy. Inside, Audi binned its gloriously tactile and easy-to-use clickwheel menu system for a new touchscreen.
So, there are more fingerprints, and your eyes are off the road more often. Where's the logic in that? Thankfully, the climate controls aren't hidden in the touchscreen, such silliness being reserved for the newer Q8 and A6.
What am I buying this instead of?
You might consider a BMW X3 or Mercedes GLC, both of which are around the same size and price. Then there’s the Jaguar F-Pace, Volvo XC60, or possibly either the Range Rover Evoque or Velar. Audi resisted a coupe version of the five-seat Q5 for a long time, but as BMW flogs the X4 and Mercedes the GLC Coupe, it's relented and there's now a more cramped Q5 Sportback.
As for engines, with the normal Q5 you’ve got the simple choice of a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol or a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel. Then you’ve got the Q5 TFSIe hybrid, which pairs said petrol engine with a battery and e-motor for low CO2 (and thus tax) and a few miles of electric-only range, and the mildly sporty SQ5 (with a chunky V6 diesel engine). All get automatic gearboxes and quattro all-wheel drive as standard.
Prices start at around £43,000, rising to almost £60,000 for the SQ5. Or to half a billion quid if you get a bit handsy with the options list. This is an Audi after all.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The Q5 isn’t a remarkable car in any one way, but it is quite good in a few ways, making it a worthy, well-rounded thing. And well worth thinking about if you’re in the market for this kind of car.
While it isn’t as fun to drive as an X3, Macan or Jag F-Pace, it is very quiet, comfortable and practical, if a little dull. Who buys a posh crossover to lob it down a B-road post-haste? The Q5 succeeds as a cruiser, a traffic-soother, and critically avoids the pitfall of trying to be too sporty and ending up uncomfortable and out-of-sorts - like the Q2, Q3 and Q8, to name a few.
The hybrid? It’s an impressive bit of tech, but the usual caveats apply. If you’re a company car driver then by all means – it’ll save you a bundle in tax. But if you’re buying for you, think very carefully about the kind of driving you do before committing. And if it's the kind of driving that suits electric, then Audi now makes the Q4 e-tron as an exceedingly convincing EV alternative...