What is it?
The diesel engine may now be living on borrowed time, but the addition of mild-hybrid electrification promises to at least keep it on life support for a few more years. Audi has slowly been overhauling its line-up with the technology, which now makes an appearance on the Q5 for the first time.
In gaining a 12V belt-driven starter-generator, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel gets a minor low-end performance boost, with power and torque now 201bhp and 295lb ft – a 14bhp increase over the outgoing model. The 0-62mph sprint is now roughly half a second quicker, at 7.6sec.
Arguably more important for potential owners are the efficiency improvements. Engine-off coasting at any road-legal speed and the ability to activate the start/stop function at speeds below 14mph help raise the claimed combined fuel economy to 44.8mpg and reduce CO2 emissions to 165g/km.
These updates arrive as part of a wider mid-life refresh, which aims to help the Q5 keep pace with premium SUV rivals such as the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC60. Visual clues are minimal, with an even wider front grille, redesigned LED headlights and some sharper door sill inserts that give the impression of a higher ride height, even for the Sport trim tested here, which rolls on 18in alloy wheels.
Upgrades to interior technology are more obvious, with a 12.3in digital instrument cluster now standard across the range and the infotainment display upgraded to the same 10.1in touchscreen seen in the new A4. It ditches the familiar dial controller and receives all-new software that’s more suited to touch inputs.
What’s it like?
This latest Q5 iteration is just as capable, comfortable and classy inside the cabin as before, which should hardly come as a surprise: as one of Audi’s most popular models, there’s little sense in straying too far from a working recipe.
It has a level of body control you’d expect from a much lower-riding car and continues to be surprisingly agile but ultimately uninvolving to drive, with numb and overly light steering. Anyone searching for true dynamism won’t find it here, but on the plus side, it has allowed ride quality to remain very good. Although not quite as compliant and absorbent over road imperfections as say, a Mercedes-Benz GLC, it has no issue devouring long distances in relative comfort.