In-depth reviews

Audi Q5 review – does it have the edge on an X3, GLC or F-Pace?

The updated Q5 does what it says on the tin. Well built, dependable, solid to drive, but for an edgier SUV look elsewhere

Evo rating
from £38,035
  • Impressive powertrains; well put together
  • Less engaging to drive than some rivals; thirsty petrol variants

The premium mid-sized SUV is now as much a staple for any premium player in 2021 as any compact executive saloon or estate, so it’s no surprise to see pretty much everyone in the fold with strong contenders. Yet Audi’s Q5 could be considered a bedrock of the class, and joins the BMW X3, Mercedes GLC, Jaguar F-Pace and Porsche Macan in fighting for your monthly payment and a parking space on the kerb outside of the school gates.

To help its cause the Q5 has recently undergone a mid-life update, which alongside some subtle styling changes, has also brought with it a new range structure, two new plug-in hybrid powertrains and a new Sportback coupe-crossover bodystyle. But there’s also some useful updates to the core variants, too, and some refreshment of tech to keep buyers interested. Question is, has all of this kept the Q5 up to date in this competitive marketplace?

Audi Q5: in detail

  • Engine, gearbox and technical highlights > The powertrain range has been widened, with the four-cylinder petrol and diesels joined by two new plug-ins
  • Performance and 0-60 time > Most Q5s are fairly light by class standards, helping along its performance figures
  • Ride and handling > Lacks the crispness of the Porsche Macan and Alfa Romeo Stelvio, but no worse than an X3 or GLC; rides well on sensible wheels, too
  • MPG and running costs > Keep to the diesel or plug-in and 40mpg is easily achievable
  • Interior and tech >  Becoming dated by Audi standards, but otherwise superbly built and tech is still top-notch
  • Design > Features plenty of new styling elements to align it to the wider Audi range

Prices, specs and rivals

Prices for the Audi Q5 kick off at just over £41k for both the petrol and diesel four-cylinder models. The two are also connected to the same seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. From here, the range is then split into four trim levels, running through Sport, S line, Edition 1 and finally Vorsprung. 

These types of trim levels are quickly replacing individual options within Audi’s UK range to simplify the buying process, not to mention the complicated WLTP emissions testing procedure.

Basic sport models receive 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, Audi’s latest MMI system displayed on a new touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and leather seats, among the usual array of normal comfort and convenience features. S line models then upgrade to Matrix LED headlights, as well as ‘sportier’ exterior and interior details and larger wheel sizes, 19-inch this time, for an extra £2550.

A new trim level for the Q5 is the Edition 1, which builds on the S line with 20-inch wheels, Nappa leather trim, extended interior lighting and black trim detailing for a further £4500. Topping the range is the Vorsprung, which adds (an astonishing) £10,650 to the Edition 1’s price point, making it nearly £18,000 more than a basic Sport model. As one would hope, it comes fully laden with pretty much all the available options including 21-inch wheels, adaptive air suspension, Audi’s full suite of driver aids, a panoramic sunroof, 360-degree parking cameras, OLED rear lights – we could keep going.

Audi has also recently introduced two plug-in hybrid models available in the same spread of variants starting at around £8k more than the base petrol. Topping the Q5 range is the fully equipped Q5 55TFSie Vorsprung, taking things right up to just short of £72,000. There’s also now a Sportback model available on non-plug-in models for an extra £4500, and the SQ5 will soon return to the UK in both body shapes as a 340bhp V6 diesel once again, replacing the previous turbocharged V6 petrol.

Rivals for the Q5 are pretty clear-cut, with BMW’s X3 and Mercedes’ GLC-class the obvious two, although both are only available with a diesel engine, with £40,000 getting you an xDrive30d SE or a 250d auto AMG Line.

Porsche’s entry-level petrol-engined Macan 2-litre will attract those who enjoy the badge more than the power behind it, and Jaguar’s updated F-Pace offers the most room, and one of the better driving experiences in the class, too.

Ignoring the obvious SUV rivals we’d go for the more sensible and practical solution of an A4 Avant with the same engine, drivetrain and trim level for the same money. It’s lighter still, more responsive and agile, and with a degree of engagement about it that SUVs just can’t match.

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