Audi Q5 Hybrid driven

* Audi's first hybrid * £40,000, on sale in the autumn * CO2 emissions less than 160g/km...

Audi Q5 Hybrid driven

The Audi Q5 Hybrid Quattro will go on sale this autumn from around £40,000, and we've driven it.

It's significant for being Audi's first hybrid road car to go on sale, although versions of the same hybrid set-up are also set to go in the new Audi A6 and the Audi A8 shortly afterwards.

The hybrid system is made up of a 208bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine mated to a 44bhp electric motor powered by lithium ion batteries and driven through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The net result is a peak combined power output of 241bhp and 354lb ft of torque.

Just as pertinently, the hybrid set-up allows for an average economy of 40.4mpg and emissions that Audi will only commit to being 'under 160g/km'. The electric motor kicks in when cruising or at low speeds, and also allows the car to cover up to 1.8 miles at 37mph on electric power alone, or run up to 62mph for shorter periods.

For comparison, a standard 2.0 TFSI Q5 equipped with an S tronic gearbox averages 32.8mpg and emits 199g/km, while a 2.0 TDI 143 diesel Q5 fitted with an S tronic gearbox returns an identical 40.4mpg and emits 184g/km of CO2.

Although the batteries and hybrid equipment add around 38kg, the power boost provided by the hybrid system gives the car a 0-62mph time of 7.1sec, which is slightly faster than the standard car. The hybrid package sits neatly out of the way, too, so boot space isn't compromised unduly.

Once on the move there are significant refinement benefits, too, because the engine rarely needs revving hard thanks to the electrical assistance, which switches on and off so smoothly that you really have to concentrate to notice it is even operating.

In fact, the most obvious tell-tale sign that you are driving a hybrid is from the altered dash layout, which makes you aware of whether you are driving under hybrid, engine or electrical power, plus whether you are driving in an efficient (or inefficient) manner.

Beyond that, this car offers all the regular Q5 attributes.

So should you buy one?

There's no doubt the Audi Q5 Hybrid quattro is impressive so much so that you could be forgiven for forgetting the hybrid system is even there.

However, the truth is that if you live in Europe this car only makes financial sense if you live in town, pay company car tax and must have a 4x4. The vast majority of buyers would be better served by the 2.0 diesel that offers similar economy for around a £6k less initial outlay.