Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Automatic gearboxes as standard
  • SQ5 not much fun
  • TFSI e plug-ins cruise well

Petrol engines

There’s just one pure-petrol engine offered in the Audi Q5. Called 45 TFSI, it’s a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder that comes with 265hp and 370Nm of torque, and is capable of 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds. Audi expects up to 40% of UK buyers to choose this, and it’s a good choice for those seeking to maximise performance rather than lower their running costs. Maximum torque from 1,600-4,500rpm ensures it’s very flexible, gathering momentum impressively and progressively. Unlike most petrol rivals, this engine suits the Q5 well, rivals can feel strained and reluctant to rev in comparison.

Diesel engines

A mainstay of the Audi range for years, the 2.0-litre TDI diesel is still a popular choice, here badged 40 TDI and with 204hp and 400Nm of torque. It manages 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds. Peak torque is available low down in the rev range – from 1,750-3,250rpm – making it easy to access the Q5’s accelerative power from low speed; great for joining the motorway or completing safe overtaking manoeuvres. That power delivery feels linear, with only a slight lag from the turbocharger, but it’s hardly slow with plenty of performance for most situations.

One gripe with all petrol and diesel versions of the Q5 is that the automatic gearbox can be a bit busy on the motorway. It changes down quite often – even when you are just cruising at a constant speed.

The SQ5 is diesel, too, but has a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 with 347hp, the same engine that’s found in Audi’s S4 and S5 models. There’s no S tronic dual-clutch transmission here: the SQ5 used an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic instead to cope with the extra torque, sending drive to all four wheels via a full-time Quattro system. A 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds is rapid, while a useful 700Nm of torque means it’s responsive in-gear, too.

Hybrid engines

The plug-in hybrid Q5s, badged 50 TFSI e and 55 TFSI e, both use a 2.0-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor. The 50 TFSI e offers 299hp, while the 55 TFSI e offers up 367hp.

The latter is capable of completing the 0-62mph sprint in 5.3 seconds, and will reach a 149mph top speed. You’ll need it in Dynamic mode to properly feel that power, otherwise it’s a refined and quiet performer. It’s a very smooth powertrain – you barely notice it switch on when you’ve been in EV mode – and when you accelerate hard it’s still barely audible. It’s very impressive.

Leave it in Hybrid mode and it’ll work out which is the most efficient way to operate. At all times it’s hushed, with no jerkiness felt when switching between electric motor or engine power.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Handling competent, but not fun
  • SQ5 is better, but not convincing
  • Off-road modes increase Q5’s appeal

You won’t choose an Audi Q5 because it offers the most thrilling driving experience in the segment, but its handling characteristics are well-balanced and conducive to making brisk progress in comfort. 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 mixed according to personal preferences. Steering is one area where Audis have suffered with criticism in the past, but the Q5 has improved significantly. There’s a better degree of feel through the wheel itself, more so when you switch to Dynamic mode, although we’d like a bit more weight in this setting.

The ride height of the air suspension option is also controlled via the Drive Select system by toggling between its different modes. Most will keep it in Auto for the majority of the time, but Comfort’s great for traversing poorly surfaced asphalt or plying motorways with ease, isolating you further from the outside world. It still feels controlled and composed, though, not suffering with the same degree of float you’ll experience in a similarly equipped Mercedes-Benz GLC.

Dynamic mode sharpens up the Q5’s responses, reigning in body roll that bit further, yet while it’s immediately firmer, it’s not jarringly so – sharper ruts still feel as though their edges have been rounded off. Flicking to this mode also lowers the car by 15mm. If you’re intending to venture off the beaten path with your Q5, then the Allroad (increases the ride height by 25mm) and Offroad (a further 20mm higher) modes will get plenty of use, increasing ground clearance to make traversing trickier terrain something you can do confidently. All models have hill descent control to keep you at a constant speed without you needing to use the brake pedal.

The fastest Q5 on offer – the SQ5 – has the best handling and roadholding in the range. That’s hardly surprising, but it’s not quite as simple as that. There’s lots of grip, with the Quattro system clinging on to the tarmac with neck-straining ability, and body roll is kept in check providing you select the Dynamic drive mode. It’s not entirely convincing though, as the firm suspension struggles to deal with mid-corner bumps and a leaning SQ5 at the same time. The steering is also overly light and devoid of feel, so it doesn’t inspire confidence like more driver-focused cars such as the Porsche Macan or Jaguar F-Pace.