2019 Audi Q5 55 TFSIe review: price, specs and release date
The Audi Q5 55 TFSIe is the latest SUV to join the plug-in hybrid party. It looks good on paper, but how does it perform on the road?...
Priced from £50,410 | On sale Now
Times are most definitely changing for company car drivers. Over the last five years or so, we’ve seen diesel go from the darling of the fleet world to a very dirty word, with this leading to the rise of the hybrid and the plug-in hybrid.
And with benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates for cars capable of emitting less than 50g/km of CO2 set to drop from an already low 16% to no more than 14%, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing new hybrid models being released on an almost weekly basis.
That’s where the new Audi Q5 55 TFSIe comes in. Although it looks pretty normal from the outside, apart from an additional filler flap above the left rear wheel, it is in fact the first of a new breed of Audi plug-in hybrids. These combine turbocharged petrol engines with electrical components to produce fast and frugal cars meant to woo company and private drivers alike.
In the case of the Q5 55 TFSIe, there’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine under the bonnet and an electric motor driving through a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. Fully charged, the battery can deliver up to 26 miles of electric-only running, something that’s instrumental in the Q5’s official CO2 emissions of just 49g/km and fuel economy of up to 111.7mpg. Even so, it produces a mighty 362bhp – more than the SQ5 diesel performance model.
Should that seem a touch unnecessary, there’s also a 50 TFSIe that produces a mere 295bhp and achieves a 0-62mph time of 6.1sec. However, it’s the extra-spicy 55 variant that we’re looking at here.
2019 Audi Q5 55 TFSIe driving
You might tell your family that you’re getting a Q5 55 TFSIe for the cheap BIK tax payments and stellar economy, but let’s be honest, you really want to know how quick it is, don’t you? Well, we have good news and bad news. The bad is that despite making more power than the SQ5, it is in fact slower. The good is that the sprint from 0-62mph still takes just 5.3sec – a mere 0.2sec longer than in the SQ5. The 55 TFSIe is also faster than its arch rival, the Volvo XC60 T8.
From a standstill, the Q5 55 TFSIe needs a brief moment to clock that you’ve buried your right foot in the carpet before it surges forward, feeling every bit as fast as that 0-62mph time suggests. Happily, despite the pause, it’s much less hesitant than regular versions of the Q5, so you don’t feel hung out to dry every time you try to zip into a gap in traffic.
Of course, performance is a lot less impressive in electric mode, but the car still feels impressively punchy in urban environments and can get up to motorway speeds without too much hassle. Thankfully, if you do need a few extra ponies when driving in electric mode, you can wake up the engine by pushing your right foot to the floor.
Don’t think lots of power makes this a sports SUV, though. The heavy battery makes itself felt in twists and turns, so some of the Q5’s agility is lost. Sure, it still grips well and is entirely predictable, but you feel the extra mass as you enter corners quickly and especially through fast direction changes. Then again, it easily outhandles the XC60 T8.
Of course, we doubt you’ll be buying a plug-in SUV for its handling prowess. More important by far is how comfortable it is, and even with 19in wheels and regular steel suspension (adjustable air suspension is standard on range-topping Vorsprung trim), the Q5 55 TFSIe has a pliancy that makes motorway journeys a delight. Get onto crumblier roads and you feel the odd thud, but this car is still noticeably more comfortable than a BMW X3 or Volvo XC60.
And it’s not just the ride that makes it an easy place to spend a few hours. Electric mode is obviously quiet, save for the odd quiet whine, but the engine is also impressively refined. Not only does it fade into the background at a cruise, but it also remains hushed when accelerating and even has quite a sporty note when you’re really going for it.
What of real-world efficiency? Well, the electric-only range is enough for many commutes, and once the battery was flat we managed around 33mpg – not diesel good, but very respectable for a large SUV with a powerful petrol engine.
2019 Audi Q5 55 TFSIe interior
Audi hasn’t really done a great deal to the Q5’s interior for the TFSIe models, but that's a good thing. Material quality is among the best in the class and the rotary dial-controlled infotainment system is a doddle to use. In fact, the only real telltale signs that you’re in the plug-in hybrid are a battery charge gauge replacing the temperature gauge and a few hybrid-specific displays in the infotainment system and standard digital instrument display.
Move rearwards and you’ll find the back seats split-fold 40/20/40 and can be reclined or slid fore and aft to maximise leg room or boot space. Speaking of the boot, this has been reduced by 95 litres, due to the battery installed under the floor; not only do you lose underfloor storage, the boot floor itself is also a little higher.
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