Audi Q5 Facelift 2021: Observations after a day of driving

The 7-speed S-Tronic is intelligent and the Q5 seems to be in the right gear almost 100% of the time, with no real need to change gears by using the paddle shifters. Dynamic mode is definitely exhilarating and a lot of fun when you are in the mood for some spirited driving.

In India, the Q5 is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged Petrol TFSI engine that puts out the 247 BHP and 370 Nm. The petrol Q5 that was available in India till April 2020 also carried the 45 TFSI badge and delivered 248 BHP and 370 NM torque. So, it is the same turbocharged petrol engine in the same state of tune as earlier, but now comes with BS6 compliance. The transmission also remains the same – a 7-speed dual-clutch S-Tronic gearbox. The 2021 facelift Audi Q5 has predominantly cosmetic changes only and the dimensions are also almost unchanged. Audi has not shared the kerb weight of the car, but it is unlikely that there would be a significant difference on that front as well.

Once you settle in the driver’s seat and press the engine start/stop button, the engine comes to life with no drama. The NVH levels of the Q5 are pretty good and at standstill you don’t really hear the engine sound inside the cabin or get any sort of vibration. Slot it in D, take your foot off the brake and you expect the Q5 to creep forward. But the Q5 stays put. Then you realise that the “Auto Hold” function is engaged. I feathered the accelerator and got the behemoth rolling.

A quick glance at the instrument cluster indicates that we are in “Comfort” mode. The Q5 responds well to progressive accelerator input and picks up speed really fast. There is no sudden surge of power when the turbo kicks in at ~2,200 rpm and the power delivery is very linear. The upshifts from the 7-speed dual-clutch S-Tronic box are quick and almost unnoticeable unless you have your eyes glued to the tachometer. With light accelerator inputs, the shifts upshifts happen at 2,500-3,000 rpm.

On the open road, overtaking is easy. With a light tap on the A-pedal, the Q5 drops a gear or two, deploys a few more horses and before you know it, the overtaking maneuver is done and dusted. Audi claims 6.3 seconds for 0-100kmph in the Q5 and we don’t doubt it. Omkar mentioned that the downshifts are more noticeable as compared to the upshifts, but definitely not jerky. In the cabin, if the music is not on, as the rpms rise, you can hear the engine growl and has a nice note to it.

Using the Audi Drive-Select buttons you cant put the engine in “Dynamic” mode. The Q5 automatically puts you in Sports mode, even if you were in D mode before selecting Dynamic. The adaptive dampers change the damping rate and the suspension becomes stiffer than the Comfort mode. The throttle response becomes sharper and the Q5 surges ahead with A pedal inputs. While accelerating, the gearbox holds the gears till much longer (4,500-5,000 rpm) and even the actual shifts are executed faster. The 7-speed S-Tronic is intelligent and the Q5 seems to be in the right gear almost 100% of the time, with no real need to change gears by using the paddle shifters. Dynamic mode is definitely exhilarating and a lot of fun when you are in the mood for some spirited driving. Do note, however, that the “Dynamic” mode is too sharp for driving in city traffic.

If by chance, you are not very happy with the Dynamic mode setup, you can always configure the “Individual” mode and finetune the steering weight, suspension stiffness, etc. If you want even more control, go ahead and slot the gear selector in Manual mode and you can rev the engine all the way to the redline of 6,750 rpm. The rev-happy petrol engine won’t complain.

“Efficiency” mode should help while ambling around at low speeds in city, where most of the Q5s would spend most of their time. If you are too lazy to select the most appropriate drive mode, just put it in “Auto” and let the Q5 do its own thing smartly.

The Q5 also gets a “mild”-hybrid system. This means that there is no electric motor as such, but the car comes with an idling stop/start system and brake energy regeneration. While coasting, the engine shuts off for few seconds and restarts on its own in a cyclical fashion. This should help enhance the car’s fuel efficiency.

Earlier in the day, while looking for a spot to shoot, we took the Q5 on some narrow trails. The sensors on all sides kept on beeping with tall grass and small bushes almost invading the trail. We were not really in off-road mode, but the Q5 managed to tackle the terrain effortlessly. When we found a spot that was almost touching the water of the beautiful Pavana lake, it was pretty early in the day and the grass was wet from the dew. Wet grass means loss of traction and the Quattro AWD system jumped into action and ensured that we didn’t get stuck or bogged down. Very nice!

The Q5 is equipped with a basic cruise control system. There is no ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) provided, which means no Adaptive Cruise Control – not cool for a car in the segment and at this price point. Audi had apparently experimented with ADAS in India, but couldn’t find a solution that works in the challenging Indian road infrastructure and unpredictable traffic conditions.

The Q5 does not get an air-suspension option in India – something that could have helped with adjustable ride height. Even so, the low speed ride is good in Comfort mode and the car isolates the passengers well from the imperfections of the road. The 2021 Q5 comes with 19″ wheels as standard (the 2018 version came with 18-inchers). Interestingly, the ride with the 19-inchers doesn’t feel too different due to the adaptive dampers. On broken roads, if you slow down too much, there is some bobbing and lateral movement experienced in the cabin. In the same scenario, at higher speeds, the ride is better.

The Q5 is a fairly big crossover, but with the combination of a light steering and a powerful engine, it feels surprisingly nimble. On curves, the overall body control is pretty good for an SUV/crossover. Of course, you have to keep in mind that this is not a low-slung sedan with a low center of gravity and be reasonable while diving into the curves.

In Comfort mode, the steering is effortless. In fact, it’s a bit too light. While it is precise when taking turns or bends on the road, there is very little feedback and it feels a bit disconnected from the road. The steering is even lighter in Efficiency mode, while in Dynamic mode, it weighs up nicely and feels more acceptable.

The brakes are sharp and progressive and help the big crossover shed speed quickly and come to a halt without any drama.

Surprisingly, there is no insulation provided under the bonnet:

Overall, we are impressed with how the Q5 45 TFSI drives and handles. The 250 horses are more than adequate for this mid-sized crossover and owners should be happy with this all-rounder that has a near-perfect balance of comfort, convenience and performance.

Source: Read Full Article