Review: 2021 Audi Q5 'Edition 1'
- Model tested: Audi Q5 45 TFSI quattro S tronic, ‘Edition 1’.
- Price: £48,980. Price as tested: £59,450 (see options below)
- Regular Audi Q5 priced from £43,625 in range-entry ‘Sport’ trim. On sale now.
In 90 words or less
For buyers who prioritise style and technology over driving verve, the updated Audi Q5 is a handsome choice with plenty to like. It offers a plush interior and fairs well when parked next to rivals.
There are four trim grades from which to choose, along with petrol, diesel and PHEV powertrains and the chassis delivers a refined ride and quiet interior. The Q5 offers plenty of technology with a large infotainment display and a suite of driver-assistance features. For 2021, the Q5 gains a little extra power and updated styling.
The Audi Q5 has been around since 2009. The second-generation reached the UK in 2018 and during last year the mid-sized SUV received a refresh for its 2021 model year and is the subject of this week’s test.
The Q5, according to Audi, is the brand’s best-selling global SUV model, so this lightly updated version is designed to maintain that momentum against a myriad of rivals in a burgeoning SUV market. Based on the same ‘MLB’ platform as the Audi A4, A5 et al, the Q5 SUV sits above the smaller Q3 but under the gargantuan seven-seat Q7.
The current Audi Q5 went on sale in June 2020 with first deliveries taking place in October last year.
Earlier this month, ‘KY70 CKO’ checked in for a week’s sojourn. It was an updated Q5 45 TFSI (261 bhp) S tronic quattro, presented in ‘Edition 1’ trim, clad in ‘District Green’ metallic paint and wore a stealth-like black exterior pack.
For an in-depth read, pop the kettle on and crack open the custard creams (other savoury treats are available, but why bother)…
The SUV market has changed dramatically since 2009 when the Audi Q5 first made an appearance, 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 Alfa Romeo Stelvio, BMW X3, Mercedes GLC, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Porsche Macan and Jaguar F-Pace, to name but a few.
2021 model year updates
The recent update brought a few minor tweaks to the already classy exterior of the Q5 range. These included new LED headlamps, new rear light clusters, a reshaped radiator grille and a restyled front bumper with larger air intakes. With a 90kg weight loss over the previous model, the updated Q5 has managed to avoid the pies during lockdown…whereas, some of us – oh, never mind.
Audi has also fitted a pair of reprofiled side skirts – while at the rear there's some updated trim. There is also a pair of new paint finishes to the regular Q5’s nine-colour palette – District Green and Ultra Blue, along with a choice of 18- to 21-inch alloys.
The exclusive ‘Edition 1’ as tested is based on the S line exterior, but deploys a black trim package that excludes any brightwork. The front and rear Audi rings are in black and there are black rings at the base of the rear doors. The ‘Edition 1’ offers a choice of four metallic colours included in the price.
The engine line-up receives a 12-volt mild hybrid assistance to give performance and fuel economy a small boost.
Inside, the more noticeable change is the new 10.1-inch touchscreen sprouting from the dash top – as if mounted there by a workshy Halfords apprentice.
Unfortunately, it replaces the outgoing model’s non-touchscreen unit which was operated by an intuitive rotary dialler located conveniently under your left hand on the centre console. Now, the new touchscreen requires you to lean forward to swipe through menus and sub-menus as the lack of any physical shortcut buttons make for a distracting and thus dangerous, experience while on the move.
Note to car manufacturers: Your unchecked adoption of touchscreen technology is a dangerous, irresponsible and retrogressive step. You peaked at rotary dials, so just stop it. Please.
When stationary, Audi’s MMI navigation plus operating system is intuitive and easy to get your head around, not something that can be levelled at every carmaker’s proprietary software.
There is Smartphone mirroring via wireless Apple CarPlay, although those with Android devices will still need to plug-in using one of the four USB points (two at front, two in the second row).
There’s also a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster running Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit. This used to be the reserve of the top-spec Vorsprung models, but is now standard across the Q5 range.
Overall cabin presentation is a bit understated, even by Audi’s usually austere but elegant standards. The front seats are comfortable, especially with the standard-fit lumbar support, and the materials used throughout feel solid and well-screwed together.
Practicality & Space
A central storage bin with a padded lid doubles as a height-and-reach-adjustable arm rest and can swallow up most of the detritus of daily automotive life, while the deep and generous door pockets easily accommodate larger bottles. The front cup holder count stops at two.
The second row is spacious and comfortable too, with creature comforts for back seat passengers including air vents and separate climate controls. There are a couple of USB points as well as a 12V outlet while the fold-down central armrest conceals dual cup holders.
The door pockets, like in the front, can take larger bottles. The middle seat is compromised though in terms of space, the large driveline tunnel eating into valuable foot and legroom.
The cargo area – accessed via an electric tailgate – is generous, with 520 litres with the second row in place, expanding to 1,520 litres with the 40:20:40-split back seat uprights set flat. This is slightly down (by 30 litres) on the outgoing model, but few if any will notice.
Edition 1 Trim Grade & Equipment
There are currently four trim grades in the standard Q5 line-up – Sport, S line, Edition 1 and Vorsprung.
The Edition 1 model (as tested) takes the well-equipped S line and adds Audi Matrix LED headlights with LED rear lights and dynamic front and rear indicators, 20-inch V-spoke diamond cut alloy wheels, MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch and Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus, extended Black Styling Pack, sports suspension and Nappa leather furniture.
This reviewer quite liked the look of the Edition 1, but the less-expensive S line (£46,505) on which it’s based makes better sense.
The Options List
As you would expect, the ‘Edition 1’ as tested is a well-specified launch model of the updated Q5, based on the S line trim grade. Below is detailed the range of options available on the model, with an asterix indicating its fitment to the test car.
- Comfort & Sound pack* (£1,395): Advanced key with electric hands-freeboot opening system, Bang & Olufsen sound system, 360° camera and extended LED interior lighting pack.
- City Assist Pack (£500*): Includes Audi side assist, exit warning, cross-traffic assist rear, Audi pre sense basic / Audi pre sense rear, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera.
- Park Assistance Plus*: (£1,250): 360° camera, park-assist plus.
- Tour Pack* (£1,250): Includes: Adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go and Traffic-jam assist, predictive efficiency assistant, Pre-sense Front, camera-based traffic sign recognition, collision avoidance assistant, Turn assist and Active Lane Assist.
- Other: Panoramic glass sunroof* (£1,400), folding towbar (£765), storage pack* (£225), adaptive air suspension £1,700.
Engines & Transmissions
As it stands, the regular Audi Q5 – including the Edition 1 – is available with just two engines, one petrol, one diesel. A plug-in hybrid version is also available, called the TFSI-e. I say 'regular' Q5 because there's also a performance-focused version called the SQ5 available.
Audi switched to a curious numerical engine naming structure in 2018 instead of engine sizes and power outputs (see below for full structure). As a result, the two engines currently available in the Audi Q5 need an accompanying explanation (see full chart here). The ‘40’ TDI is a 2.0-litre diesel with 201 bhp, while the 45 TFSI is a 2.0-litre petrol with 261 bhp. The latter was fitted to the Edition 1 test car.
Both engines come with Audi’s iconic quattro all-wheel drive and a (ZF-sourced, thus excellent) seven-speed automatic gearbox as standard. Both engines have some mild-hybrid electrical assistance to give performance and fuel economy a small boost.
Assuming you’re willing to consider a diesel these days – and you should if high-mileage forms part of your work-life balance – the 40 TDI is a brilliant engine; it's effortlessly strong from low revs and the acceleration arrives smoothly and progressively as the revs rise.
The 45 TFSI petrol unit is ultimately a fair bit faster, managing 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds (1.5 seconds quicker than the TDI oil burner), but needs revving harder to get the best from it.
On the Road
While an undoubtedly premium offering, the Audi Q5 isn't the most dynamic-handling mid-sized SUV you can buy, but it is arguably the one that rides best and is most refined.
Audi’s Drive Select is standard across the range allowing various aspects of the Q5’s handling parameters – throttle response, transmission shift pattern and steering response - to be varied or mixed depending upon personal preferences.
Steering is an area in which Audi has received justified criticism in the past, but this Q5 – along with the A4 and A5 ranges it shares its underpinnings with – have come on significantly. But more on that later. There’s an enhanced degree of feel through the wheel itself, more so when you switch to Dynamic mode.
Most Q5 drivers are likely to leave the Drive Select in ‘Auto’ mode and just let the electronic wizardry get on with the business of keeping you and yours safe, come what may.
I must admit to keeping the mode in Comfort for the majority of the test drive – switching to Dynamic or Efficiency to experience for test purposes. It’s great for traversing poorly surfaced roads or plying motorways with ease, isolating you further from the outside world. It still feels controlled and composed, though and avoids the degree of ‘float’ experienced by similar rivals, particularly on the Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Dynamic mode – which lowers the car’s ride height by 15mm – sharpens up the Q5’s responses, reining in body roll that bit further, yet while its immediately firmer, it’s not jarringly so – sharper ruts still feel as though their edges have been rounded off.
Grip levels are huge with the quattro system clinging onto the tarmac with neck-straining ability, and body roll is kept well in check providing you select the Dynamic drive mode.
The only real driving complaint remains with the steering which is still overly light and devoid of feel. It doesn't inspire confidence like the set up in more driver-focused cars like the Porsche Macan. As a result the Q5's best work is done with a lighter right foot, rather than being driven at ten tenths. Besides, it’s not that type of car and as such it makes for a superb family shifter.
During the test week, I spent 09:24 hours piloting KY70 CKO over a total of 332 mixed-road miles at an average speed of 35 mph. The average fuel consumption was recorded at 33.4 mpg, which was a little better than the official 32.1 mpg (combined WLTP data) declared by Audi for this model specification.
Note: During all my road tests, no attempt is made or conscious effort given to achieving an above-average mpg. However, I deploy the cruise/active cruise control at all available opportunities.
As expected the crash testing experts at Euro NCAP awarded the Audi Q5 a full five-star safety score when it was assessed in 2017.
Every Q5 gets six airbags as standard as well as automatic emergency braking (AEB), while the optional City Assist pack (standard on top Vorsprung trim) adds further preventative safety aids, including blind spot monitoring and a system that warns you about approaching vehicles when you're backing out onto a road.
Meanwhile, the optional Tour pack (standard on Vorsprung trim) includes turn assist, which stops the Q5 if you fail to spot a car when pulling out of a T-junction, plus adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition to keep you informed of the prevailing speed limit. All Q5s come with a Thatcham-approved alarm and immobiliser as standard.
Audi nailed the premium mid-sized SUV formula with the original Q5 eleven years ago. In 2017, the arrival of the second generation not only enhanced the formula, but improved on it measurably.
This midlife update for 2021 has elevated the bar yet again, ensuring the Q5 will remain near the top of buyers’ consideration list. It would be hard to bypass the petrol-powered 45 TFSI, which offers a premium, refined and becalmed experience, but with enough performance to satisfy most buyers’ needs.
While the Edition 1 is an exceptional all-rounder, sensible money leans towards the S line 45 TFSI model on which it’s based.
KEY FACTS: 2021 Audi Q5 45 TFSI quattro S tronic ‘Edition 1’:
- Engine: Front-mounted, four in line, 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol.
- Engine: Power / torque: 261 bhp @ 5,250 rpm / 370 Nm @ 1,600 - 4,500 rpm.
- Transmission: Dual clutch, 7-speed ‘S tronic’ automatic.
- Drive: Quattro AWD.
- Acceleration: 0-62mph: 6.1 seconds.
- Top speed: Limited to 149 mph.
- RPM @ 60 mph / 70 mph: 1,550 / 1,900
- MPG (combined WLTP): 32.1 (Edition 1).
- Fuel tank capacity: 70 litres (15.4 UK gallons).
- Theoretical range: Approx. 494 miles.
- Ad-Blue tank capacity: N/A.
- Emissions: 201 CO₂/km
- First year VED: £1,305.
- P11D Value: £49,640.
- 2020/21 BiK (Benefit in Kind): 37%.
- Kerb weight: 1,880 kg
- Luggage capacity: 520 / 1,520 litres.
- Towing weight (braked/unbraked): 2,400 kg / 750 kg.
- Roof luggage weight: 75 kg.
- Service intervals: 24 months or 19,000 miles (wif).
- Warranty & roadside assistance: 3 years / 60,000 miles.
- Paint / Body protection warranty: 3 / 12 years.
- Insurance group: 36.
As an added bonus, here’s the Audi bhp nomenclature introduced to new models from 2018:
- Badged 30 = 109 - 128 bhp
- Badged 35 = 147 - 160 bhp
- Badged 40 = 167 - 201 bhp
- Badged 45 = 226 - 248 bhp
- Badged 50 = 281 - 308 bhp
- Badged 55 = 328 - 368 bhp
- Badged 60 = 429 - 455 bhp
- Badged 70 = 536+ bhp
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