This is the Audi Q5 Hybrid Quattro, the first full-production hybrid road car from Audi and our first taste of the modular turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine/electric motor mated to a lithium-ion battery pack.
We'd better get used to this: the same tech will appear in the A6 and A8 Hybrids. CAR has just tested the new Audi Q5 Hybrid Quattro, so read on for our first drive review.
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How do all these electrical gubbins fit together under the skin of the new Audi Q5 Hybrid Quattro?
Up front is Audi’s tried-and-trusted 2.0-litre TFSI (turbocharged and direct injected) petrol engine, producing 208bhp and 258lb ft.
Drive goes to all four wheels, and the gearbox is an eight-speed automatic, but without a torque convertor. Why no torque convertor? Because sitting in its place (and thus between the engine and gearbox) is a 33kW (and 155lb ft) electric motor – the disc-shaped motor also acts as a starter motor and as a generator.
The 1.3kW lithium-ion battery pack sits under the boot floor (and weighs just 38kg, says Audi), and the combined total output for the hybrid system is 241bhp and 354lb ft. The air-con compressor, brake servo and power steering are now electrically driven too.
How efficient is the new Audi Q5 Hybrid?
A combined fuel figure of 40.4mpg, exactly the same as an auto-equipped 2.0 TDI Q5. Which means diesel-driving Europeans will currently be scoffing.
But the diesel Q5 emits 184g/km of CO2, while the Q5 Hybrid will duck under 160g/km. Basically, this car isn’t aimed at Europe but elsewhere; compared with a conventional 2.0 TFSI Q5’s 32.8mpg and 199g/km, it’s obviously better - and a tenth quicker to 62mph despite the c130kg increase in weight.
What is the new Audi Q5 Hybrid Quattro like to drive?
Very impressive. You climb in, stab the start button, then stab it again, then get angry, and then sheepishly remember that this is a hybrid and the electric motor is running silently so the petrol engine doesn’t have to.
Audi claims that in EV mode the Q5 Hybrid Quattro can cover 3km at 60km/h (1.86 miles at 37mph), or reach a top speed of 62mph. And despite sub-zero temperatures our test car kept switching into EV mode when we lifted off the power, were at a standstill, or were trundling around at low speeds, despite the need to power the heater and heated seats. While the stop/start systems on non-hybrid Audis frustrate and often don’t work, the Q5 Hybrid's behaviour was exemplary.
There’s the tiniest jolt when the petrol engine starts back up again, but the transition is pretty much seamless. And even when you accelerate it’s all eerily quiet and very refined: there’s the faintest rorty murmur from the engine, but you’ll hear more wind and road noise than anything under the bonnet. It’s decently quick too, with the electric motor-added torque boosting acceleration.
Is there a Prius-esque bafflement of dials and controls?
Displays straight ahead of the driver and on the multimedia screen let you know when you’re in electric, petrol or hybrid modes, with green arrows telling you when you’re being good and recuperating energy on the overrun or under braking, and orange arrows letting you know you’re bad. Audi’s Power Meter also takes the place of the rev counter, and tells you what percentage of the system’s total output you are using, and whether you’re charging the battery, driving efficiently, or going hell for leather.
The rest of the Q5 qualities are present and correct. The A5-alike dash is beautifully built with top-quality materials, and the rear seats recline and slide depending on whether you want more passenger or boot space. Plus the steering is slicker and the ride better than we remember. It’s a more appealing package than BMW’s X3.
Audi’s new Q5 Hybrid Quattro is very impressive, combining the Q5's excellent qualities with a thoroughly sorted electrified powertrain. The expected extra cost will mean it won’t be a common sight in Europe, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a decent car.
If you do live in Europe, buy diesel if you commute long-distance, but if you’re a city dweller and insist on having a 4x4, then the Q5 Hybrid Quattro is a good choice.