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Car reviews - Audi - Q5 - hybrid


It may be the most refined Q5 yet, but it arrives with a rather hefty price tag

7 Aug 2023



AUDI is back in the hybrid game with a potent Q5 PHEV that offers ’S’ model performance without the fuel bill.


But priced from $102,990 plus on-road costs, more than $40k more than the base model Q5, does the potent PHEV plan to steal the SQ5’s thunder?


According to Audi Australia product manager, Matthew Dale, the hybrid stands on its own as a ‘best of both worlds’ option for buyers that don’t quite need SQ5 performance but still want to get their kicks.


“We look at it as complementary to the range, because an SQ5 customer is a unique customer; it’s a performance diesel,” he said.


“Whereas the PHEV being complementary to the range is a customer that still wants the performance but is thinking of electrification.”


The Q5 55 TFSI e quattro comes in both Sportback and wagon body types, but the sportier rear-end option starts from an SQ5 rivalling $110,200. We prefer the wagon’s side profile, but it's going to come down to personal preference.


Audi Australia opted for the higher-powered variant, within the two-model Q5 PHEV lineup available overseas, with a powertrain that combines a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 195kW/370Nm and an electric motor good for an additional 105kW/350Nm.


A combined maximum output of 270kW/500Nm, running through Audi’s seven-speed S ironic transmission and famed quattro all-wheel drive system, allows a 5.3-second sprint to 100km/h – just two tenths slower than the range-topping SQ5.


Audi claims fuel use of just 2.0L/100km but, as we will discuss further down, that number is a far cry from what we achieved.


Drivers will also be able to cruise in all-electric EV mode for up to 55km – suitable for inner-city commutes or school drop-offs – with a top speed 135km/h.


When it comes time to charge, the 17.9kWh battery can be refilled in around 2.5 hours and all Q5 PHEVs come with a 240-volt three-pin Australian Standard Plug, a Type 2 charging cable for use with public chargers and a 230-volt industrial plug with a wall bracket to mount it at home.


The brakes on the Q5 are, in true Audi fashion, overkill with six-piston calipers and 350mm rotors up front, and 330mm discs at the rear while regenerative braking also plays a part. But being positioned as a performance model, the stopping power certainly adds to the experience.


The standard equipment throughout the Q5 PHEV is impressive, though not generous given the price-tag, clearly aimed at buyers wanting a premium SUV with S-line styling inside and out.


Both models come standard with full-length panoramic sunroof, smart ABS-sensing roof rails and crossmembers, 20-inch Audi Sport wheels, and LED lights front and rear. The Sportback gets Matrix LED headlights, somewhat justifying the price jump.


Audi’s full suite of safety technology is also included, alongside eight airbags, with adaptive cruise, autonomous emergency braking, pre-sense front and rear and active lane assist. An array of cameras also provides 360-degree views, while park assist will help further if dealing with tight inner-city parking spots.


Inside, Audi’s virtual cockpit features a 10.1-inch infotainment screen, wireless phone connectivity, wireless charging and intelligent navigation system that works in conjunction with the hybrid system to optimise the battery’s state of charge.


The standard 180-watt 10-speaker sound system, which includes a subwoofer for added ‘doof’, is superb but not quite as crisp as the optional Bang & Olufsen 3D system available as part of the $4900 Technik package. 


As is the case with all new Audi models, the Q5 comes with a standard five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and 10-year warranty for bodywork corrosion perforation.


Driving Impressions


We spent about eight hours driving the Q5 PHEV, across a two-day drive loop that covered just about everything from highway runs to twisty mountain roads, although heavy-footed journalists meant fuel use figures were perhaps a little inflated. We’ll get to that, though…


Firing up the Q5 is a silent affair, depressing the start/stop button to hear, as is the case with EVs, nothing. The Q5 PHEV automatically defaults to EV mode, offering electric-only power until combustion shove is needed.


We found that car parks, gentle suburban use and any lower speed driving kept the 2.0-litre petrol engine on standby but when needed it fired into life almost imperceptibly.


The Q5 PHEV was quiet, smooth, and comfortable throughout the two days, leaving us thinking it’s got to be the most refined Q5 yet.


Interior space is plentiful, across the 40:20:40 split, with three-zone climate control and colour ambient lighting throughout the cabin. 


We briefly sat in the rear and can confirm the Q5 PHEV will easily seat four adults or a road-tripping family, although carrying capacity is down with the rear luggage compartment floor sitting around two inches higher to fit the battery.


Power delivery is incredibly linear in the Q5, without the lag of a petrol-only powertrain or jarring torque of an EV.


Make no mistake, the Q5 PHEV is quick but in a refined kind of way. It shoots to 60km/h quicker than many hot hatches but does not feel particularly urgent or dramatic in doing so.


While only two tenths slower to triple figures than the all-out SQ5, it’s how the Q5 PHEV gets there that is different. Yes, the diesel SQ5 is smooth but it’s still not as linear in its power delivery as the hybrid is.


Several hybrid-focused drive modes are available, which we played around with, but we found the automatic hybrid mode worked best for general use. This mode automatically juggles electric and petrol power, using the destination you put into the navigation system to optimise charging along the route.


Aside from the standard mode, there is a ‘hold’ mode that will maintain battery capacity, a 'charge’ mode that uses the ICE engine to put maximum juice back into the battery, and of course the dedicated EV mode.


When it comes time to use the mammoth brakes, they’re never near their limit because up to 80kW of regenerative braking is made available through the electric motor – which means the brakes are only put to work under heavy stabs of the pedal.


For gentle deceleration, the electric motor will generate up to 25kW of regenerative braking and a coasting function disengages the petrol engine to recuperate energy and feed the battery.


Riding on coil-spring suspension, unless you opt for the sportier adaptive air suspension, the Q5 strikes a sensible balance between comfort and sportiness. It corners fairly flat, although wouldn’t get close to its SQ5 sibling in the twisties.


The one air suspension-equipped model at the launch, of which we briefly drove, cornered with less body roll and offered more adjustability with its various modes, but at $4400 we would personally forego the optional upgrade. If you do desire the improved handling, similar money will get you into an SQ5.


So, let’s talk about fuel use. We achieved average fuel use of 6.3L/100km, but the car was driven hard and acceleration tested countless times. We share the cars with other drivers, so in cases like this the vehicles are often driven hard from ‘go to whoa’.


Real-time fuel use cruising at highway speeds showed 1.5L/100km, so Audi’s claimed 2.0L/100km may be achievable across mixed use, but we’d need to spend longer in the vehicle to confirm real-world figures.


This is, without a doubt, the most refined Q5 yet and with its all-electric driving mode, low fuel use and impressive performance, it is – as Audi told us various times – a true all-rounder.


The Q5 PHEV is officially open for order, presenting a compelling mid-size SUV option that tows the line between frugal fuel use and smile-inducing performance; if you’re willing to cough up the six-figure asking price.

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