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First Drive

First Drive: Audi Q5

The story: Audi has revised its Q5 SUV, with a bolder grille, upgraded infotainment and extra standard kit.
Key rival:Volvo XC60
On sale:Now

Audi has given its Q5 SUV a mid-life refresh, with a number of fairly mild changes inside and out denoting the updated model.

A revised and shallower grille with larger bumpers is the most distinctive new element of the front end, along with LED headlamps replacing the previous Xenons on the entry Sport model driven here; the three higher trim levels of S Line, the Edition 1 trim new to the Q5 and top-spec Vorsprung all now get Matrix LEDS.


First Drive - March 2021 - Audi Q5 - Image 2On the inside, the main difference is a significantly larger touchscreen, with a 10.1-inch monitor replacing the previous 7.0-inch or 8.3-inch system, depending on spec. The touchpad control that was positioned ahead of the gearlever has also been replaced by a new stowage spot, which is no great loss because, on the move in particular, it wasn’t the most user-friendly method when the touchscreen works perfectly well.

The touchscreen display is notably crisper and smarter to look at, and the larger width is obvious when you use Apple CarPlay, with more icons displayed at once. Audi also claims the processor is 10 times faster than its predecessor, which cures a small-scale quibble of the last car taking too long to boot up navigation functions.

First Drive - March 2021 - Audi Q5 - Image 6The range launches with the 204hp diesel engine, badged 40 TDI under Audi’s naming system and 265hp 45 TFSI petrol, with two plug-in hybrid powertrains to follow. The diesel is 14hp more powerful than the pre-facelift Q5, yet CO2 emissions fall significantly, from 189g/km to 165, which is in line with the Q5’s main rivals – the BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC60. All five are covered by a 13g/km range, from the BMW at 156g/km through to the Jag’s 169g/km.

What none of the others can match is the Audi’s residual value, which is the deciding factor in giving it an overall running cost that its rivals cannot match.

On the road, the Q5 doesn’t feel as nimble or keen as BMW’s X3 in particular, and there is a slight hesitancy with the throttle response that the user will have to learn to drive around. But it’s quiet, the revised 2.0-litre diesel is punchy when it gets going, and space is good, although ride quality isn’t the Audi’s strongest suit.

paul barker

The verdict

A minor update gives the Q5 a slightly neater interior and better touchscreen as well as a slight power increase, but it’s basically more of the same for a classy and popular SUV.