Relaxed manners, refined, avoids falling through the 'too sporty' trapdoor
Pricey, 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 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. In car terms that means it’s officially Old, and rumour has it that a third-gen replacement is being lined up for some time in 2024. So if you want to visit your local dealer and drop the words ‘getting on a bit’ and ‘discount’, now’s the time.
Besides revised LED light clusters and the mandatory 'more grille' styling tweaks, the facelift introduced mild-hybrid tech to make fuel economy better and the start-stop system more effective. It also launched a plug-in hybrid model which - if you go on Audi’s online configurator - is listed as a separate car, as all of Audi’s PHEVs are. Weird.
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?
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. Might we chuck the Alfa Romeo Stelvio into the mix as well?
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. Vertically endowed friends and family won’t thank you for making them sit in the back of it.
There must be a big choice of engines, right?
Er, not really. With the normal Q5 you’ve got the simple choice of a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol with 262bhp or a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel generating 201bhp (and 295lb ft). Then you’ve got the Q5 TFSI e hybrid, which pairs said petrol engine with a battery and e-motor for low CO2 (and thus tax) and up to 38 miles of electric-only range. Commuters rejoice!
All get automatic gearboxes and quattro all-wheel drive as standard, including the mildly sporty SQ5 and its chunky, 3.0-litre V6 diesel. That’s the quickest of the bunch (obviously), smashing 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds. Top speed - not that it matters - is a dizzying 155mph.
Come on then, how much does it cost?
Prices start at around £45,000, rising to more than £62,000 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, but it is quite good in many ways, making it a worthy, well-rounded thing. And well worth thinking about if you’re in the market for a mid-size SUV.
While it isn’t as fun to drive as an X3, Macan or Jag F-Pace, it is very quiet, comfortable and practical. Just a little dull. And who buys a posh crossover to lob it down a B-road post-haste? Exactly, no-one. 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 EV driving is something that appeals, why not go the whole nine yards with the (very convincing) Q4 e-tron?