New Car Review: Audi Q5 2.0-litre TFSI TDI S-Line – AA Ireland

A 2021 Audi Q5 in District Green

Audi Q5 Starting Price: €56,975

Price as tested: €70,402

GOOD STUFF

  •  Gorgeous looks, stunning interior, massive competency.

BAD STUFF

  • Price can get saucy when you start ticking options boxes. Rear legroom not great for adults.

WHAT IS IT?

The Audi Q5 SUV has been one of the best-selling SUVs in the premium segment in Europe for quite some time now. Here in Ireland Audi over the previous 5 years have averaged about 380 Q5 per year, with 2018 proving a very strong year with 424 units sold. It is Audi’s 5th most popular model in Ireland right now, and their 2nd most popular Q-model, Q being their designation for their SUV range. Q5 makes up 8.5 per cent of all new Audi’s sold here this year.

Sales are respectable if not spectacular, especially when you compare it to the Volkswagen Tiguan from the same parent company. This year Volkswagen has already shifted 2,415 Tiguan SUVs, albeit with a much smaller starting price, but with similar dimensions. With the Q5 SUV you are getting perhaps one of the most refined mid-size SUVs on the market. This really is Audi at their best when it comes to fit and finish and this latest iteration of the Q5 is no exception. This is a car that will be bought for more than practical reasons as there are cheaper alternatives, but few can match this model’s cachet and driving manners. This is the latest model which comes with a new exterior design, including, at the rear, digital OLED technology. 

The Q5 comes in a new colour, District Green. Photo: Paddy McGrath

HOW ABOUT THE LOOKS?

The Q5 has always been a handsome SUV, and even older models have aged well. For 2021 there have been a few subtle changes to freshen up the car. The octagon single-frame grille is shallower and appears to be wider than before. The side air intakes are larger and are now structured by trapezoidal insets. The upper section of the LED headlamps features a new signature for the daytime running lights. A redesigned sill insert, Audi says gives the new Q5 “a lighter look”. At the rear end, there is a new trim element between the light clusters and a new diffuser insert with a horizontal fin. On the S-Line model, which we were driving, there was a honeycomb pattern in the single-frame grille and a chrome strip framing the rear diffuser. This model came in one of the two new colours, district green (the other being ultra blue) and it created quite a stir out and about with plenty of commentary (all positive) from passers-by. This model was also fitted with a black trim package. The 19” wheels fitted to the car made the ride very pleasant but made the car look a little under-wheeled. 

The 19″ alloy wheels offer a good balance between style and comfort. Photo: Paddy McGrath

WHAT IS THE INSIDE LIKE?

Audi generally makes the best interiors around. The layout is always very intuitive but in particular, the quality of the materials and the fit and finish is seldom surpassed and this Q5 is no exception. If there is ever wonder at where the extra money is going in an Audi, this is surely the answer as there is really a big leap in quality from anything coming from Volkswagen at the moment.

The Q5’s interior is remarkably good. It has an excellent fit and finish. Photo: Paddy McGrath

The new interior dispenses with the rotary/push control on the centre console and your eye is drawn to the more substantial, now freestanding MMI touch display with acoustic feedback. There is a 10.1” touchscreen display which comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and this is the third generation of the Modular Infotainment Platform and according to Audi, offers ten times the computing power of its predecessor, the MIB 2. It has a simple menu structure with flat hierarchies that make it very simple to use and is searchable using free text. The driver has the choice of entering characters and letters manually or via voice control, which understands a vast array of everyday terms. Combined with the MMI navigation plus infotainment system including Audi connect navigation & infotainment, the voice-control system can access the cloud for even greater flexibility.

The Audi connect online services network of the Audi Q5 work closely with the internet and traffic infrastructure. The navigation system offers high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth, lane-by-lane information on traffic flow and traffic forecasts. DAB+ digital radio is part of standard equipment, while the Amazon Alexa service allows access to thousands of Alexa skills. The car-to-x services provided by Audi connect make for even more relaxed driving – helping, for example, to find available roadside parking spots or using traffic-light communication in some cities to “surf the green wave”. The myAudi app connects the user’s smartphone to the car.

The 10.1″ Display works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Photo: Paddy McGrath

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

Smooth, refined and confidence-inspiring. This Q5 feels really well planted, has a light but communicative steering and a compliant and not overly firm ride, even in S-Line trim. Audi gave us this model in S-Line trim, but without it being shod in the usual press-spec biggest-wheels-we-have and while it doesn’t look as pretty as it might, it certainly makes for a nicer driving experience.

This car, when full was displaying a range of 1,100km and the claimed 5.8l/100km seems very believable. Buying a new diesel in 2021, knowing what we know about the future of the fuel does come with risks. But remember, buy on a PCP and the risk isn’t yours, it lies with their bank.

You will know what the minimum value is and no changes in legislation can affect that. For now, taken as it is, this diesel is super quiet, a combination no doubt of the engine’s refinement and the extra sound-deadening afforded to Audi models. The 7-speed S-Tronic has such seamless gear changes that you would seldom feel inclined to go near the paddle shifters, and while the Audi Drive Select comes as standard, like many of these systems, you play with them for a while before ending up staying in Normal. Certainly, I did anyway. The Audi Q5 feels upmarket, it is very comfortable and is actually quite entertaining when you push it on and that is pretty much every box ticked. It is very good. 

Handling is very composed on the Q5. Photo: Paddy McGrath

WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?

The Q5 comes with a choice of petrol, diesel and now a PHEV model in the form of the Q5 TFSI e and if you live around a city centre or you do short trips, for the most part, is probably the one to choose. The diesel will be best suited to the customer that still covets the masses of torque and the ability to cross the country with little more than a few minute stop for a fuel refill. The Q5 eTFSI e with the same spec as the car we were driving would come in at €67,668, almost €3,000 less and has a faster top speed, CO2 emissions of just 39g/km (so €170 per annum motor tax) and the potential (but not very likely) ability to return 1.6 l/100km. With this in mind, you would need a compelling reason to choose the diesel any longer. 

IS IT SAFE? 

The updated Q5 also comes with a comprehensive set of assistance systems. The Audi pre sense city system comes as standard and helps avoid collisions with road users in front of the vehicle or mitigate their consequences. The optional turn assist, collision avoidance assist and exit warning systems also contribute to overall safety. Adaptive cruise assist can largely relieve the driver of accelerating, braking and lane-keeping manoeuvres for long periods, while predictive efficiency assist supports an anticipatory driving style and lowers fuel consumption.

VERDICT: Amazingly refined, top-class interior, but PHEV might make a better buy in this model.  

Spec Check:

Audi Q5 35 TDI S tronic

Engine: 2.0-litre TDI 

Power: 163PS @ 3,250 – 4,200rpm

Torque: 370Nm @ 1,000 – 3,000rpm

0-100km/h: 9 seconds

Fuel Economy: 7.4 l/100km

Top Speed: 204 km/h

Transmission: 7-speed Dual Clutch S Tronic

Co2: 153 g/km

Annual Motor Tax: B2 €280

Luggage Capacity: 520-litres with the seats up, which can extend out to 1,520-litres with the rear seats folded. 

Price as tested: €70,402

AA Ireland: August 2021