Though Audi has long eschewed hybrids in favor of diesel-powered models, this year the German automaker is breaking with tradition by offering both fuel-sipping powertrain types in its popular compact Q5 luxury crossover.
The Q5 hybrid looks nearly identical to the conventionally-powered model, but big differences lurk underneath the hood. The powertrain consists of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that pairs with an electric motor to produce a total system output of 245 horsepower and 345 lb-ft of torque.
Those figures represent significant gains over the standard four-cylinder Q5's 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Shifting through a modified version of Audi's eight-speed automatic gearbox, the Q5 Hybrid can scoot from zero-to-60 mph in about seven seconds.
As welcome as that extra power is, most buyers consider hybrids for their fuel economy benefits, and in this area the gas-electric Q5 doesn't disappoint. The EPA rates efficiency at 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, up from 20/28 mpg in the base model.
A compact lithium-ion battery pack provides an all-electric range of 1.86 miles at a constant speed of 37 mph. The Q5 Hybrid can hit a top speed of 62mph in EV mode.
As with all Q5s, the hybrid shares a platform with the A4 sedan and A5 coupe/convertible. Like those models, it features relatively sporty handling along with a comfortable ride, though the platform's driving dynamics are dulled somewhat by the Q5 Hybrid's higher height and larger size. On the other hand, the Q5 Hybrid does provide an elevated view of the road ahead along with plenty of cargo space.
The crossover's cabin is tastefully trimmed in high-quality materials and can be outfitted with the most recent version of Audi's MMI infotainment system. The latest model year brings Audi Connect, an optional feature that brings in-car internet connectivity and industry-first Google Earth integration - complete with panoramic views and high-resolution 3D satellite and aerial imagery.
Hybrid-specific touches designed to help drivers maximize mpgs and minimize their carbon footprint include special functions within Audi's MMI infotainment system that display energy consumption and recuperation in addition to showing how power from the electric and gasoline motors is being apportioned. In place of a tachometer is a power meter that reveals the battery charge and levels of electric boost and gas power.
Standard and Optional Features
The Q5 Hybrid is offered in a single 2.0T Hybrid Prestige trim level.
Standard features include leather upholstery, heated front seats, a navigation system with voice control, a 14-speaker, 505-watt Bang & Olufsen Sound System, a panoramic sunroof, a rearview camera, Audi Side Assist, a power tailgate, Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights.
Highlights from the options list include the Comfort package, which includes heated and ventilated front seats and Milano leather, the Sport Interior Package, featuring front sport seats and a 3-spoke sport steering wheel, and the Driver Assist package, which lets the driver tailor steering effort, throttle response and transmission shift style to his or her preferences. This package also includes adaptive cruise control.
Standard safety features include dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Also available as an extra-cost item is rear side airbags.
Given the nascent state of the compact luxury hybrid crossover segment, the Q5 doesn't have any direct rivals just yet. Buyers can cross-shop the larger Lexus RX 450h, and those willing to consider a diesel can wait for the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC.