You’ve got to hand it to Audi, three years ago at the launch of the e-tron Sportback they planned to have 30% of their product range as EVs by 2025, either full EVs or hybrid.
They certainly seem to be on track with that, with a slew of ‘new’ models popping up regularly. This time around, it’s the Q5 that’s been launched as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and we sampled one over a few weeks, first with me and then handing the car off to Alistair for his views on it.
With so many new full EV models coming out, can the ever-lasting Q5 still hang in there as a PHEV? We clocked up 1,000 km to find out.
What We Like and Dislike About The 2023 Audi Q5 TFSI e
|What we like||What we don’t like|
|Total silence on the motorway|
Interior build quality
32-amp home charger as standard
|Bluetooth connection issues in our test car|
Occasional charging issues
No heads-up display
Sensitive electric tailgate
No charge-port light
What’s In The 2023 Audi Q5 Range?
In New Zealand, we get to pick from 3 Q5 models:
Both the Q5 and SQ5 are available with a sportback body style, and all Q5s are all-wheel drive.
The base Q5 (from $97,990) is powered by a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine putting out 150kW of power and 400Nm of torque, or there is also a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol motor that manages 183kW of power and 370Nm of torque, priced from $113,990. Both run a 7-speed S tronic automatic transmission.
The SQ5 (from $143,990) has a 3.0-litre, V6 turbo-diesel engine with 251kW of power and 700Nm of torque and uses an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.
The Q5 50 TFSI e (from $114,990) is equipped with a 2.0-litre, turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine combined with a plug-in (PHEV) hybrid system that outputs a combined 220kW of power and 450Nm of torque. The transmission is a 7-speed S tronic automatic, while the electric side of the drivetrain has a 105kW motor and 14.4kWh of battery capacity.
The Q5 50 TFSI e (from $114,990) will get to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds and Audi suggests fuel consumption of 1.6L/100km.
2023 Audi Q5 50 TFSI e Standard Equipment Highlights
Safety and Security
- Electronic Stability Control
- Anti-theft alarm system
- Front airbags for driver and passenger, with front passenger airbag deactivation
- Side airbags, front and rear
Driver Assistance Systems
- 360-degree camera
- Parking Aid Front and Rear with Park Assist
- Lane Change Warning
- Audi Pre-Sense Rear
- Rear Cross Traffic Assist
- Exit Warning
- Collision avoidance assist
- Turn assist
- Audi pre-sense city
- Audi Active Lane Assist
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- 20” Alloy Wheels
- Adaptive air suspension
- Tire mobility system
- tool kit (without jack)
- Indirect tire pressure monitoring system
- Exterior design S line
- Exterior mirrors, electrically adjustable, heated, memory function, folding, auto-dimming
- Exterior mirror housings in body colour
- Headlights – LED Matrix with dynamic light design and dynamic turn signal Package
- Separate daytime running lights
- Rear lights – LED
- Rear lights – LED with dynamic rear indicator Package
- High Beam Assist
- Black roof rails
- Black decorative trims
- Tailgate – electrically opening and closing
- Trailer hitch preparation (towbar and e-kit needs to be purchased separately)
Seats and Upholstery
- Front seats – sports
- Power adjustable lumbar support in front seats
- Electric front seats with memory function for driver’s seat
- Heated front seats
- ISOFIX child seat mounting and top tether anchorage points for outer rear seats
- Leather upholstery – fine nappa leather with diamond pattern
- Audi Connect
- Audi Connect Enabler
- Audi Connect SIM
- WiFi Hotspot (excl. data)
- Audi connect Navigation and infotainment plus (3 years)
- Online search for navigation destinations
- Detailed Point of Interest display
- Online traffic information
- Online parking information
- Weather information
- myAudi Navigation
- Navigation with Google Earth
- Map update online
- Safety & Service (10 years)
- Audi Service Request
- Audi Roadside Assistant
- Emergency Call
- Security & Convenience (3 years)
- Vehicle Status Report
- Car Finder
- Theft Alarm Notification
- Remote Lock / Unlock
- Remote Horn & Light
- Geofencing, Speed Alert
- Audi Drive Select – configure the vehicle characteristics via modes Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual
- Smartphone Interface (Apple Car Play and Android Auto)
- Audi Virtual Cockpit – Fully digital instrument cluster, with 12.3″ high resolution LCD screen.
- Automatic air conditioning – three-zone
- Comfort key – keyless access, including sensor-controlled tailgate release
- Audi phone box light (wireless charging only)
- Dash inserts – Matte brushed aluminium
- Interior mirror, auto-dimming
- Leather steering wheel, 3-spoke design with gear change paddles
- Lighting package – additional LED interior and exterior lighting.
- MMI Navigation Plus with MMI touch
- Net partition
- Privacy glass
- Storage compartment and luggage compartment package
- Accent surfaces – Gloss Black
- Scuff plates with aluminium inserts in front and rear, illuminated with “S” logo in front
- S line interior
- Headlining in black
- S line emblems
- Audi Exclusive Black Gloss styling package plus $1,500
- Exterior mirror housings in gloss black $300
- Matrix LED headlights, LED rear lights and headlight washers $3,500
- Panoramic glass sunroof $4,200
- Metallic Paint NCO
- Ambient lighting package – including 3 predefined colour profiles. LED lighting for cupholders, centre console, footwells, door pockets, door lighting, $400
- Audi Sound System $850
- Bang & Olufsen Sound System with 3D sound $3,250
- Head-up display $2,750
- Heated rear seats $950
- Inlays – Black Piano Lacquer, Audi Exclusive $1,500
- Pneumatic lumbar support with massage function for front seats $1,500
- Leather steering wheel, 3-spoke design with gear change paddles, heated $950
Our Review Vehicle’s Optional Equipment
- Panoramic glass sunroof – $4,200
- 21″ Alloys, 5-V-spoke offset style, Anthrac Black – $4,500
- Audi Ex Black Gloss styling package + – $1,500
Including the optional equipment our review car’s retail price is $125,190
For a full list of specs and options available for the 2023 Audi Q5 TFSI e head on over to the Audi New Zealand website.
How Does The 2023 Audi Q5 50 TFSI e Compare To Its Competition?
It would be nice to have a Mercedes-Benz plugin-hybrid to compare with the Q5, but the new GLC no longer comes in a PHEV variant, so it’s out.
All prices below exclude the refund or additional cost of the New Zealand Clean Car Programme.
|BMW X3 xDrive30e (PHEV)||2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol hybrid||215/420||5||3.2||750/2,000||450||$115,990|
|Audi Q5 TFSI e (PHEV)||2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol hybrid||220/450||5||1.6||750/2,000||465||$114,990|
|Lexus NX450h+ F Sport (PHEV)||2.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol hybrid||227/227||5||1.4||750/1,500||545||$111,100|
First Impressions Of The 2023 Audi Q5 50 TFSI e
I can’t remember the last time Audi send us a car to test that wasn’t grey and true to form, so it was for our Q5 50 TFSI e test car. Still, this is apparently what Audi buyers want; grey cars.
There have been no real changes to the lines of the Q5 in PHEV guise, except for a second filler flap now on the left side rear of the car for plugging the car in.
Our test car came with the “Ex Black Gloss styling package +” costing $1,500. This means blacked out badges and other blackened trim, and added together, this gives the Q5 quite the mean stance. I must admit that blackout package is worth it.
Around the back, sadly there are huge, fake black exhaust tips. Please Audi (and others), no more of this.
What’s The Interior Like In The 2023 Audi Q5 50 TFSI e?
Before getting in, there are slightly different but quite cool door handles; they don’t look different, but as you pull, the handle goes upward.
More often than not, it’s the interior of an Audi that blows away anyone who hasn’t been in one before. It’s not so much luxury – although the pleated seats look extremely luxurious – but the build quality. Everything looks so beautifully made, the shut lines are tight, and the materials used are high-end. There’s some brushed alloy going right across the dash, and all the materials used on the doors are soft and plush, or harder plastics lower down.
If there was one small letdown on the interior quality, it would be the pockets in the doors. They aren’t lined with felt (as in most Skodas, Audi’s brethren) and so any drink bottles in those doors are going to rattle about horrendously, taking away thoughts of a quality interior. For the price of some stick-on felt, I wish Audi would fix this. Weirdly, the average-size glovebox is lined with felt.
Being 2023, there is some piano black in the interior but thankfully it’s restricted to the centre console. Not the ideal place for it, and it gets covered in fingerprints very quickly. On that console is a great invention called the volume knob; I’m happy to report Audi has kept this in play, so the passenger can adjust the volume, and change the track or station all very easily. May the volume knob never disappear completely, although it feels like an endangered species.
At the rear of the centre console is a small but usable cubby (with a single USB-C port) and covering that is a Qi wireless phone charging pad. This pad is sliding, so you can leave your phone on it charging but slide it back to reveal the cup holders. Nice party trick.
Up front of the console are three storage areas; one for pens etc, another that was supposed to be an ashtray but is perfect for your phone when it isn’t charging, and another in front of the console. Above this is a single USB-A port and a 12-volt socket.
Above these items are physical aircon controls; like a volume knob, Audi has stuck with having the AC control by knobs and dials, and we love them for that. Simple, easy, quick. No going through screens thanks very much.
Rear seat passengers have an average amount of headroom, with that pano sunroof cutting into it some. Legroom for the outside seats is very good, and those passengers have access to two USB-C ports, their own 12-volt socket, and aircon vents too. There is a large transmission tunnel in the rear-seat area, and this really cuts into available legroom for any centre-seat passengers. Kids only, I would say, for that centre seat.
I felt the boot had a very high loading height until I found the button that raises or lowers it. This is a pretty quick process, so not much waiting around for the car to drop to its lower height to make loading easier.
The boot itself is a reasonable size at 465 litres, although there is no underfloor storage or a spare wheel, likely this is taken up with the car’s drive battery pack. You’ll find a single 12-volt socket in the boot, as well as latches to release the rear seats remotely.
While the tailgate is electric, I did find three times where it tried to sort of kill me. The car does have a kick-to-open/kick-to-close feature, and I can only assume that my foot was moving a little at the time, when I certainly didn’t expect the tailgate to come down on me. It does beep so you get time to move out of the way, but still a bit disconcerting. Rob Clubley reports he had the same issue on the last Q5 he tested, too.
What’s The 2023 Audi Q5 50 TFSI e Like To Drive?
In 2021 I reviewed a Q5, and after getting into the PHEV model, it really is like catching up with an old friend. The logic around switch placement, the ease of doing anything you want – all too easy.
WIth a 100% full EV battery on pickup, the EV range was showing as 47km, and the fuel range at 654km to empty. With a daily commute of 90km, this would be a good test of using the car as it was intended to be used; EV when you can, switch to petrol when you can’t.
While our test car showed just 47km on pickup, Audi suggests that the car should do around 62km on a full charge. As we’ve shown so many times, Wellington is not EV-friendly for range; my maximum range over my time with the Q5 went from 48-56km, depending on where I had just been or how I had just been driving.
I have to say, two times the car simply didn’t charge. I’m not sure if this is something I did or not but when starting the car, it showed no extra range. Not related to this, but I wish Audi had put a light in the charge port area; at this time of year when it’s dark at 5 pm, there was a bit too much fiddling about to get the charging cable plugged into the car. While you open the fuel filler flap with a button inside the car, you can open the charging port flap by pushing on it.
Unlike the Ford Mustang Mach-e that I had just reviewed, the Q5 TFSI e does come with a 230-volt home charger. Not only does it come with a home charger, but for the first time that I’ve seen the Q5 PHEV comes with a charger capable of a 32-amp charge – as standard. Most ‘trickle’ chargers (sometimes called granny chargers) will only put up to 8 amps of charge into the drive batteries. The maximum amount you can get for a home charger (or ‘wall charger’) is 32 amps, so Audi has simply given you something you can (if you wanted to) screw to the wall and use to get a high amount of charge back into your PHEV’s batteries.
Actually, this doesn’t really matter too much for the Q5 PHEV as it has a smaller battery pack and so would be charged to full from empty overnight on an 8-amp charger, but I was still very happy to see Audi supply this charger with the Q5 PHEV (and actually, they say the same charger comes with all their PHEV or full EV models). For those who want a wall charger but don’t want to pay thousands of dollars to get one, well, the Q5 comes with it as standard. Note you’d still need an electrician to install a heavy cable to the charger, but at least you would have the charger already.
The Q5 TFSI e has a number of EV and battery modes to use – if you want to;
- EV Auto
- Battery Hold
- Battery Charge
EV will force the car to run in EV mode no matter what, and the petrol engine will only start once the battery juice runs out. I know people who own PHEV and if they know they are just cruising around town and aren’t going to burn through 100% of their battery, they will use this mode – why wouldn’t you?
EV Auto is the mode I pretty much left the car in. It will decide when to use EV mode, or when to start the petrol engine. It’s all seamless of course, and at times, imperceptible. I have to say when the Q5 was running in EV mode and then started the petrol engine, I only knew this by seeing the rev counter suddenly flick upwards. The process at changeover is silky smooth and the petrol engine itself extremely quiet.
Battery Hold will see the Q5 start the engine, but only to maintain its current charge, while Battery Charge mode will find the engine come on to charge the battery to 100%.
The Q5 TFSI e manages its battery use perfectly, right down to 0%. At times in town, the battery would show almost no charge and yet at low speeds, say crawling in traffic, the Q5 would still use that sliver of battery power to move the car forward. It’s simply excellent.
While the Q5 TFSI e does not have any sort of brake regeneration (regen) via the steering wheel paddles, simply taking your foot off the gas pedal will cause some regen to kick in, meaning less braking required and more ‘free’ charge going into the batteries. It was great to see that this model also has intelligent regen, meaning if you are following a car and are off the gas pedal, the Q5 will apply regen to keep you at a safe distance from the car in front, without you having to brake – all automatically. You will need to brake sometimes, but this is a great feature to recoup some of your current speed as battery charge.
As well as the EV modes, you get to choose from Audi’s normal drive modes as well;
- All Road
With height-adjustable suspension, the height of the car will raise or lower depending on drive mode you select.
With the combined power output of the turbo four-cylinder and electric drive, performance is extremely good. Even loaded up with passengers, the car has plenty of poke to move you along quickly. Acceleration up Wellington’s steep hills and motorways – even with 4 people on board – is easy and drama free. The Q5 50 TFSI e will accelerate to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds.
Part of being drama free is the lack of nearly all noise; wind noise, road noise and even tyre noise are very well subdued, and at times on the motorway, there’s total silence – even when the petrol engine is running. I don’t recall Audi’s 2.0-litre turbo motor being this quiet, so expect work has been done with sound deadening somewhere under the bonnet. It’s a model of civility, but that’s not to say it has no character. Wind the petrol engine out and you’ll be rewarded with a delicious note that only a well-tuned turbo-four can deliver.
Assisting in your daily drive is the Q5’s visibility; it’s great. With huge side windows and an A pillar that’s been angled slightly, you can easily see all around the car when changing lanes on the motorways. Naturally, there is blind spot monitoring on the car as well.
There were some surprising omissions from the $115K Q5 50 TFSI e. There’s no heads-up display, something I really expected to see at this price level. There’s also no lane centring. There is lane keep assist, so you will get an alert if you veer over the white lines, but there is no ‘automatic steering’ as we would see in cars costing half as much as the Q5 50 TFSI e.
One last thing on the not-so-good front, for me at least, was the Bluetooth connection for my phone. Six times this dropped, so I’d have to turn Bluetooth off on my phone, and then on again. A couple of times this happened after I had made a phone call, which was even more weird. This could have just been my phone, however.
I’m not sure why the Q5 shows the current speed limit (using traffic sign recognition) only on the SavNat screen on the centre display. You can’t see your current speed on the dash, which is where you really need to see it. It feels like an afterthought, something that hasn’t been thought through.
That’s pretty much it for the things that I didn’t like and almost everything else is good, great, or excellent. The steering wheel itself feels excellent, and the steering feel is not too bad either. There’s Audi’s usual ‘star’ button on the steering wheel for you to set as a favourite.
The reversing camera clarity is excellent, as is the 360-degree camera system and I’m happy to report that that 360-degree system does come on automatically when you get too close to an object.
Another superb item is the brakes; the stopping power is extreme. The handling of this car with the optional 21” rims is beyond expectations; it can be chucked around fairly easily and confidently. It’s no sports car but it handles better than it should. Along with decent handling is the ride quality, with what has to be described as outstanding ride quality for a car running on 21” rims.
As always with full-time all-wheel drive, grip is never an issue, even on full-throttle acceleration.
But the real test of this car is its hybrid system. We often get claims of good economy, but often not backed up by our real-world testing. The Q5 TFSI e proved itself during our almost 1,000km of test driving, using 5.1L/100km of fuel. While Audi says the car should use 1.6L/100km, 5.1 for a 2-ton SUV is still very good. If the owner of this car commuted less than around 50km a day, then that 1.6L/100km should be achievable.
For energy economy, Audi says the car is rated at 19.6kWh/100km, but for some reason we bettered this hugely with the car returning 11.6kWh/100km.
ALISTAIR’S POINT OF VIEW
I am a big advocate for Audi’s new vehicle line-up. Why? Because in my view, Audi’s interiors are among the best in the luxury car game. They manage to retain the traditional qualities of a luxury car while offering some of the best tech in the game.
I can’t commit to such words for Audi’s closest rivals. Mercedes seems to have gone off the technological deep-end with steering wheels that have an umpteenth number of haptic controls, and offering cars which have a screen as their entire dashboard. BMW had a great formula, but recently ditched it for more tech, soft controls and features with a ‘wow’ factor, such as glass controls.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with either of these approaches, but to me, both lack a cohesiveness that Audi manages to get near spot-on. This Q5 fits that brief. The interior design might be towards the mid-to-end of life part of the spectrum, but it’s still standing up to, if not bettering, its rivals.
All the tech is in the Q5. The infotainment is high-res, responsive and easy to use. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, in my view, is one of the best digital instrument clusters available. There are also great cameras, self-parking and more.
Although for me, it’s the build quality that draws me to an Audi. The doors close with a convincing thunk. The materials are high quality and are screwed together so well, they feel like they’d survive a tornado if one came through the sunroof. The switchgear has an uber-satisfying clicky tactility, making tasks like changing the temperature or changing songs intrinsically satisfying.
Sure, the Q5’s industrial finish may come across as a bit cold, lacking the warmth of say, a Range Rover. But otherwise, its approach is unashamedly Germanic. It feels like an over-engineered tank.
Of course, the Q5 is hardly tank-like in terms of its ride comfort and handling. Its air-suspension irons over bumps and road markings, wafting the occupants from A-to-B in supreme comfort. Start taking on twisty roads, the Q5 will behave like a casual athlete. It corners tidily, with neutral turn-in and maintains good body control. It’ll handle a succession of quick corners with little effort. Once the road opens up, you’ll be able to appreciate the Q5’s brisk straight-line performance. It’s decent for a car that isn’t part of the Audi Sport range. However, the petrol engine does take a bit to wake up, having a slight delay kicking in when giving it the full shoe.
In traditional Audi fashion, the steering is light but does lack feedback. Although, that’s fine, if not preferable for this sort of car.
As much as I enjoyed the experience, there are some issues with this Q5. First, our car didn’t have lane-keep assistance, which seems like a strange omission given the price. Audi also has one of the best lane-keep systems in the business, so why exclude it? I didn’t see it on the options list either.
The second is the electric range. In my view, a good PHEV should not only blend electricity and petrol power but also could convincingly do either independently. The 59km range from the Q5 just doesn’t quite cut it; heck, a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV will do 80kms. In short, the Q5 should have more electric-only range.
That aside, the experience is excellent. If you’ve got the cash, value build and ride quality and don’t want to spend days learning how to navigate screens, the Q5 PHEV should be on the shortlist.
2023 Audi Q5 TFSI e – Specifications
|Vehicle Type||Mid-size, all-wheel drive SUV|
|Price as Tested||$125,190|
|Engine||2.0-litre, turbocharged, 4-cylinder petrol/plug-in hybrid|
|Power, Torque (combined)|
|Transmission||7-speed S Tronic|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||2,075|
|Length x Width x Height|
|Boot Space / Cargo Capacity,|
(seats up/seats down)
|Fuel tank capacity,|
|Advertised Spec – Combined – 1.6|
Real-World Test – Combined – 5.1
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
|Advertised Spec – Combined – 19.5|
Real-World Test – Combined – 11.6
Low Usage: 6-10 / Medium Usage 11-19 / High Usage 19+
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
|Warranty||Audi Warranty – 5 years / 150,000 kms|
Audi Roadside Assist – 5 years / 150,000 kms
Audi Motoring Plan – 3 years / 150,000 kms
|Safety information||ANCAP Rating – 5 stars – Link|
Rightcar.govt.nz – 5 Stars – PTA922
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