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2021 Q5: Cautious facelift, benchmarked upgrade

S Muralidhar | Updated on November 05, 2021

Audi makes up for the long leave of absence for one of the key models in its portfolio. Does the new engine and equipment make the Q5 a compelling buy?

Even in today’s context, it must be a rare occurrence anywhere in the world for a legacy auto brand to break a string of electric vehicle launches with a new ICE model. It is certainly interesting to see something like that happen here, where the EV market is still in its nascent stages.

ICE still rules and for Audi which has already launched five EV models this year, the 2021 Q5 is the first step towards reclaiming its lost share in the Indian luxury passenger vehicle space. Almost half of Audi’s sales have traditionally come from the ‘Q’ family and this only reiterates the importance of the Q5 one of Audi India’s best selling models. The facelifted and refreshed 2021 model year Q5 is a comeback for the model-line after an 18-month hiatus. It has been updated under the bonnet with the petrol engine now being BS6 compliant, but it doesn’t get the earlier Diesel engine as an option any more.

Design

One of the first observations by most that will walk up to the new Q5 will be that it looks fresh, but not really new. That’s because Audi has trodden the redesign path cautiously and this facelift features very subtle design changes. Much of the 2019 model year Q5 and its profile remains unchanged. A few changes that are immediately evident are the new LED light configurations for the headlamps and tail-lamps, the new design fenders and the wider Audi trademark bonnet grille, which now makes the Q5 seem like it has borrowed some design inspiration from the e-tron family. At the rear, a new chrome garnish that runs across the tailgate and just under the tail-lamps emphasises the width of this Audi SUV.

 

The classic Audi lines and creases run across the new Q5’s body panels forming that familiar play of light and shadow, and giving it that recognisable lineage character. Another change to the 2021 Q5 is the larger, 19-inch alloy wheels, and the metallic door sill trim that highlights the ground clearance.

Cabin

The Q5 has been popular for being the right size luxury SUV for a market like India; neither too compact, nor too big. Step into the cabin and that is what I’m reminded of. View the Q5 in side profile and it seems like it has a sizeable footprint, but when I’m behind the wheel, it sort of feels more compact and nimble. Audi officials say that the focus for the facelifted Q5 has been everyday usability and ease of use, both clear from the changes to the interior.

The classic sharp angles to the design elements in the interior mark it out as an Audi cabin

 

The classic sharp angles to the design elements in the cabin marks it out as an Audi cabin. The choice of materials, and fit and finish is expectedly good; though I would have liked trim inserts in materials like open-pore wood. The piano black inserts seem to add to the amount of plastic in the cabin. The leatherette seats are generously proportioned and comfortable; the driver seat gets power adjustments.

The dual tone dashboard is similar in its layout, but the new, larger infotainment display stands out, not only for its higher screen real-estate, but also because it eliminates the long-standing MMI interface on the centre console. The touchscreen at the top of the centre stack is also combined with the digital virtual cockpit for offering info and access to controls.

 

The 19-speaker B&O music system in my test mule,the top trim Technology variant, offered a new level of playback quality for a vehicle in this segment. The infotainment system also allows smartphone integration using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Features like the panoramic sunroof, 3-zone aircon, wireless phone charger and ambient lighting bring it up to date with the current trends in the luxury car segment. The Q5 continues to be spacious, with enough legroom for rear passengers and a capacious 550-litre boot.

Performance

The Q5’s Diesel TDI engines are out after this BS6 update. That’s probably the first casualty along the route to becoming all-electric in the coming decade. Instead of the two diesels of before, the Q5 now gets the 2-litre TFSI petrol engine (nomenclature 45 TFSI) which delivers an output of 249hp and a peak torque of 370Nm. This engine’s performance numbers are nearly the same as the pre-BS6 levels. Refinement, on-road performance etc are also very similar.

 

The engine has been paired with the 7-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission. Of course, it also gets Audi’s proprietary Quattro all-wheel drive tech.

 

The powertrain feels refined with a fair level of peppy acceleration character, thanks also to a responsive gearbox. But it is still not the most eager performer in the segment.

The 0-100 kmph run takes 6.3 seconds, rated top speed is 237 kmph and rated mileage is 17.01 kmpl.

 

With a flick of the Drive Select button, there are also five driving modes to choose from including Comfort, Dynamic, Off-Road, Individual and Auto. I could try a bit of mild off-road driving at Shillim, near Mumbai, where a bunch of us motoring journos had gathered for the test drive.

The tried and tested Quattro system comes across as perfectly capable; the ground clearance and approach/ departure angles make the Q5 very capable off the beaten track.

Ride quality is also a highlight. The suspension is offered with damping control and changes to the character of the suspension based on drive mode selected makes it even more capable. The ride hasn’t been affected by the bigger rims and lower profile tyres and continues to be one of the best in the segment.

Bottom line

The new, facelifted Audi Q5 is an upgrade that attempts to bring the model up to the grind in a segment where competitors have moved in and claimed territory. The new equipment list, including eight airbags, and the minor modifications to the design and powertrain make it more of an all-rounder than the predecessor.

 

 

A diesel powertrain will be missed, but the general direction of most car brands and buyers is towards petrol and that should help.

The 2021 Q5 is just the first of the new ‘Qs’ to make a comeback. Expect prices for the two variants — Premium Plus and Technology — to be in the vicinity of ₹60 lakh.

Published on November 05, 2021

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