Audi Q5 SUV review
"The Audi Q5 does many things well in its fight against the BMW X3, Mercedes GLC and Jaguar F-Pace"
- Powerful and efficient engines
- Very comfortable on the road
- Spacious and practical
- Unadventurous styling
- Steering doesn't have much feel
- Infotainment screen doesn't retract
Since the first Audi Q5 was introduced around a decade ago, the SUV market has changed dramatically, with nearly every manufacturer introducing a high-riding model. In this time, the Q5 has continuously evolved thanks to tweaks to keep it competitive in what is now a fiercely contested premium SUV market. Today, the Q5 finds itself up against a host of talented rivals, including the BMW X3, Mercedes GLC, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Jaguar F-Pace.
Gradual improvements have been beneficial, with the latest Q5 offering a smoother ride, more comfort, increased efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. More updates were made in 2020, with a facelift that introduced reworked front and rear styling. The latest diesel engines also offer improved fuel economy to help keep running costs down, and there's a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that has an electric range of almost 40 miles. Buyers who don’t need the maximum in boot can also choose the Sportback version of the Q5, which has a sloping ‘coupe-style’ rear roofline. Rear headroom is a couple of centimetres less as a result and boot space drops by 10%.
You can buy the standard Q5 with one of two engines. A turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘45 TFSI’ petrol engine produces 261bhp or there’s a 201bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine, badged ‘40 TDI’. Both engines come with a seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox and quattro four-wheel drive and are capable of getting the Q5 from 0-62mph in under eight seconds. For those that want a faster version of the car, there is the range-topping Audi SQ5, which boasts a more powerful 336bhp 3.0-litre diesel engine.
Drivers looking for the most cost-effective Q5 will find the 2.0-litre 40 TDI diesel appealing. It returns up to 44.8mpg and emits around 165g/km of CO2, so company-car drivers can expect a top rate Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax bill. These figures are a good match for the equivalent Mercedes GLC and a little better than the Land Rover Discovery Sport, but are in the top two brackets. The 2.0-litre 45 TFSI petrol Q5 returns 32mpg, a figure that decreases when bigger wheels are fitted (something that also has a detrimental effect on ride quality).
The PHEV is offered in two versions, the 295bhp 50 TFSI e and the 362bhp 55 TFSI e, which return up to 188mpg and 157mpg respectively in official economy, while both emit less than 40g/km of CO2. Of course, fuel economy will depend on how often you charge the battery and how far you drive once it’s flat.
You can get standard and Sportback versions of all powertrains, including the plug-ins and the SQ5, and trim levels are fairly straightforward. The standard SUV and Sportback come in Sport, S Line, Edition 1 and Vorsprung grades, while the TFSI e adds Competition and Competition Vorsprung grades that mimic the style of the SQ5 high-performance flagship.
The SQ5 comes in ‘standard’ and SQ5 Vorsprung trims but all Q5 variants are decently equipped, with even the basic Sport getting LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, navigation and Audi’s impressive Virtual Cockpit driver display.
The latest Q5 actually delivers a more comfortable ride than earlier versions, but those who choose smaller wheels will be rewarded with a little extra cushioning over bumps. You'll find that the Q5 feels safe and easy to handle, but enthusiastic drivers may feel the car's responses are a little too dull to encourage spirited driving.
High interior quality has become Audi’s trademark and the Q5 combines impressive materials and in-car technology to challenge the very best in class. Its standards in this regard are on a par with the excellent Audi A4 and don't fall far short of the top model in the company's SUV line-up, the Audi Q7.
The Audi Q5 received the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash-testing. It features some very advanced safety technology, including standard autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
Overall, the Q5 is one of the best all-rounders in its class and should be on your shortlist if you're looking at a premium SUV of its size. The Q5 is beautifully made, comfortable, modern and boasts a great engine range, plus it undercuts cars like the Jaguar F-Pace on price.