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heycar review

      Launch year
      2017
      Body type
      SUV
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel, PHEV
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Polished and refined all-rounder”

Best bits

  • Posh interior
  • Superb cruising refinement
  • Great passenger space 

Not so great

  • Expensive optional extras
  • Last generation infotainment
  • Narrow engine range

Read by

Audi Q5 Exterior Front

Overall verdict

Audi Q5 Interior

On the inside

Audi Q5 Driving Side

Driving

Audi Q5 Exterior Back

How much does it cost to run

Audi Q5 Exterior Boot

Prices, versions and specification

Overall Verdict

"Picking the Q5 used to be a clear cut choice. It's not the most strikingly styled off-roader, but a beautifully made interior, powerful engines and a refined driving experience all made it something of a crowd pleaser. It's also supremely quiet and comfortable on the motorway; exactly the qualities you want in family transport."

Audi Q5 Exterior Front

Those qualities still shine through, but a wave of newer rivals has made the Audi feel a step behind in its on-board technology and fuel efficiency, while the standard equipment list holds too much of the best stuff back.


There are four trims: Sport, S line, Black Edition, and Vorsprung, plus the high-performance SQ5, but in all but the top two, you'll be paying out thousands for better infotainment, digital dials or the latest safety gear. 


It might sound like we're writing the Audi off at this point, but in truth there is still a huge amount to like here.


For starters, it's good to drive, with sure-footed handling and decent ride comfort. It feels more like an estate on stilts than a lumbering off-roader, with tidy body control, and impressive agility for such a big, heavy car.


Buyers can choose between petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid power, but all Q5s feature as standard Audi's familiar quattro four-wheel drive system, paired up to either a seven or eight-speed automatic gearbox. Our favourite is the 190PS 40 TDI, since it's a decent performer, with reasonable fuel economy and refinement.


If you feeling like pushing the boat out financially, then the plug-in hybrids are a tempting choice. They pair a 2.0-litre petrol engine with a powerful electric motor and battery pack. In hybrid mode, this combination turns the Q5 into a seriously quick car, while in its pure EV setting you can travel around 20 miles emissions free.


These models are not as practical as the standard Q5, since their electric gubbins cut boot space by about a fifth, although passenger space is unaffected. You can fit four adults in here without an issue, and it will carry five when required, just not as comfortably as rivals with three individual seats. Still, tick the options box for a sliding rear bench, and suddenly the Audi has a distinct advantage as a load-lugger.


The SQ5 is the only model with a six-cylinder engine, and produces its speed and efficiency in a rather more conventional manner, with a stonking great 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel motor that has towering in-gear muscle.


Overall, the Q5 might not be quite as alert in corners as a BMW X3 or feel as posh inside as a Mercedes GLC, but it's more comfortable than the former and easier to operate than the latter. It'll get fuel economy a Land Rover Discovery Sport can only dream of and has an interior that makes a Porsche Macan's feel dated. In fact, the Audi's the very definition of a great allrounder. 


Is the Audi Q5 right for you?

The Q5 is an excellent all-rounder that will suit a wide variety of buyers. The important things to know here are that this is a comfortable, refined family car with lots of practicality and a nice, high-set driving position.


It'll look great on the driveway, and has a stylish cabin that feels luxurious. Combine this sense of quality with its relaxing road manners and you have a car that is superb on long journeys, family holidays, or commuting.


It has standard four-wheel drive that disengages when it's not needed to help save fuel, but gives useful extra grip on slippery roads or when you're towing. Although a Land Rover Discovery Sport is a better bet if you need to drive off-road.


That premium image comes with a high price tag, and if you just need a spacious family SUV there are a lot of mainstream rivals that do the same job for less money. Still, few have the same level of polish as the Q5.


The Audi is a great option for early adopters of expensive new technologies like plug-in hybrid power, but this is not the off-roader of choice for tackling muddy fields, or indeed transporting a seven-a-side sports team.


What’s the best Q5 model/engine to choose?

Despite falling popularity, modern diesels are still the most effective way to deliver strong performance while avoiding ruinous fuel economy in an SUV. That's why we think the Q5 is at its best in 40 TDI quattro guise.


This 2.0-litre engine is impressively smooth, and quick enough to never feel strained, even fully loaded. It's not especially economical, but an official figure close to 40mpg gives it lower running costs than the petrols.


If you are worried about tightening emissions regulations and want to avoid diesel altogether, we would opt for the 50 TFSI e plug-in hybrid. It's a stretch up in price from the 45 TFSI, but has the performance to match most six-cylinder engines, huge tax benefits for company car users, and an even smoother S tronic gearbox.


Whichever version you land on, we would recommend speccing S line trim. There are some items of kit that Audi makes you pay extra for, like a bigger screen, or reversing camera, but it has all the essentials covered. It looks sharp and has a sporty interior, plus more available safety and practicality options than the base car.


What other cars are similar to the Audi Q5?

With its five seats, premium badge and a spacious, high-quality interior the Q5 is the do-it-all of big SUVs. It's expensive, but that high price brings with it four-wheel drive, stunning materials and some powerful engines.


For similar money you could get yourself a Mercedes GLC, which was recently revised in 2019. It brings a lot of technology to the party, a stronger diesel engine, and more generous equipment, but is a little less refined.


Another closely-matched contender is the BMW X3. It's equally practical when carrying luggage or people in the back, and comes with a wider selection of engines to choose from, with six-cylinder petrol and diesels.


However if you need your SUV to carry seven passengers, then the Land Rover Discovery Sport, or cheaper alternatives like the Skoda Kodiaq both offer an occasional third row of seats, but aren't quite as comfortable. 


Still, if your kids have flown the nest and you fancy something a bit sportier and fun, then the pricey but agile Porsche Macan, plus certain versions of the Jaguar F-Pace and Alfa Romeo Stelvio are all worth a test drive.


In a nutshell

The Audi Q5 is a classy SUV that absolutely nails its brief of being comfortable, luxurious, and refined. Rivals are more practical or capable off-road, but few feel as well built, nor as smooth and quiet in everyday driving.

Only a stingy equipment list and relatively narrow engine range would put us off, but it's still an excellent car.


Learn more

Audi Q5 Interior

On the inside

Audi Q5 Driving Side

Driving

Audi Q5 Exterior Back

How much does it cost to run

Audi Q5 Exterior Boot

Prices, versions and specification