Audi Q5 hybrid engines, drive and performance

The Q5 plug-in is comfortable, quiet and relaxing to drive, with enough performance to shock yourself and others if you want to

0-62mph Top speed Driven wheels Power
5.3-6.1s 148mph Four 299-362bhp

If you’re looking at the 299 and 362bhp power outputs of the Q5 hybrids, and expecting serious performance-SUV thrills, you might be disappointed. We haven’t driven the less powerful 50 TFSI e, but the 55 that we have spent time in is fast in a straight line, yet never feels like a vigorous sports SUV. It excels as a calm, quiet cruiser, with a comfortable ride and superb refinement.

Audi Q5 hybrid electric motor, 0-62mph and acceleration

The 0-62mph time is 5.3 seconds for the 55 and 6.1 for the 50, so neither model is slow. We’ve yet to drive the 50 TFSI e, which has exactly the same 141bhp electric motor and 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox as the 55 TFSI e, only the 50’s petrol engine is less powerful.
 
The 55 TFSI e has serious punch if you give it everything off the line, but the reality is that it never encourages such hooliganism. It’s much happier at a steady cruise, or when easing the stresses of a town commute, thanks to the excellent refinement and comfort you enjoy, whether you’re in pure-electric mode or have the petrol engine running.

If you do go for EV mode, you can of course enjoy easy and near-silent progress up to fast motorway speeds. Hybrid mode shuffles between the petrol engine and electric motor as the car sees fit, and if you’ve got a navigation destination plugged in, it’ll factor in the route to make sure you get the best efficiency by prioritising the petrol engine on the motorway and saving the battery charge for slower parts of the journey. There's also a battery hold function if you want to take control of that yourself.

The car's regenerative braking system is fairly intuitive and has an automatic setting that uses sensors to increase the brake forces autonomously in order to keep a safe distance from the car in front and maximise efficiency. It even knows if you’re approaching a roundabout or junction, and varies the regenerative braking force accordingly, although there's no ‘one-pedal’ setting like you get in the Nissan Leaf.

Another thing that can be unnerving if you’re not expecting it is when the Q5 decouples both the regenerative braking system and the petrol engine to coast freely, which it does when you lift off the throttle on a clear road. It can feel like the car’s running away with you.

However, Audi reckons you get better efficiency this way rather than introducing brake regeneration if there’s nothing to slow down for. It sounds complicated, but ultimately the regenerative braking force is introduced smoothly and is easy to predict, and you get used to the coasting function very quickly, so within a few hours you forget all about it and trust the car to respond how you expect it to. Unlike some safety and efficiency systems, these make it easier to relax and enjoy the car.

Handling

The Audi Q5 hybrid is no sports SUV. It’s precise and composed, but not engaging, with steering that’s well-weighted but short on feedback. Everything about the car feels dialled towards effortless cruising capability, with stoic stability and easy outside-lane pace whether you’re in EV or Hybrid mode.

Go for one of the top-spec Vorsprung trims and you get air suspension as standard. Our time in a 55 TFSI e on 20-inch wheels and standard suspension proved that the ride comfort is supple and well controlled, without having to fork out for the expensive range-topping model.