Audi Q5 2021 40 tdi quattro design
launch-review

2021 Audi Q5 40 TDI Quattro review

The facelifted Audi Q5 has landed in Australia. We test the entry-level diesel variant to see what's changed.
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In 2019, the Audi Q5 was the brand’s biggest seller in Australia, accounting for around 26 per cent of the German brand’s sales. Fast forward 12 months, and the Audi Q5 is still the second-biggest seller for the brand, outsold only by the smaller Q3, but its sales percentage has dropped to around 18 per cent.

In 2019, Audi sold a relatively small 755 of its Q3 crossover. Twelve months later, no doubt fuelled in part by Australia’s unquenching thirst for compact SUVs and in part by the launch of the second generation in 2019, the Q3 rocketed to the top spot of Audi’s sales charts with 4090 finding new homes in 2020.

It’s a formula Audi is now banking on with this facelifted-for-2021 second-generation Q5. A new look, and new technology can work wonders on the showroom floor.

The second-generation Audi Q5 made its debut in 2016 and has, for the 2020 model year, received a freshen up, both outside and in. Although subtle, external styling tweaks keep it in line with the broader Audi stable.

It’s come at a cost though, the entire Audi Q5 range on the receiving end of a price hike, anywhere from $1800 to $4500 depending on variant.

Audi has launched the facelifted Q5 range with seven variants – five regular and two ‘Launch Editions’. You can check out our pricing and specifications story for the full rundown on the facelifted Audi Q5 range here.

We sampled just one variant at launch, the entry-level 2021 Audi Q5 40 TDI Quattro. It’s priced at $68,900 plus on-road costs, an increase of $2000 over the outgoing model. Our test car came fitted – somewhat unusually – with just two option boxes ticked: metallic paint at $1531 and Audi’s Assistance package that brings adaptive cruise control with stop&go function, parking assist, a 360-degree camera and external mirrors that are heated, fold away, auto dimming and with a kerb-side function on the passenger side to help keep those rims gutter-rash free. It’s a snip at $1769, a box we’d recommend ticking.

Those options bring the total as-tested price to $72,200 plus on-road costs, bang on the money for the segment where a number of premium brands offer diesel-powered, all-wheel drive variants in their medium SUV range – think Alfa Romeo Stelvio ($67,900), BMW X3 20d ($73,900), and Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 (from $68,000 to $75,610) and Volvo XC60 D4 (from $64,990 to $71,990).

2021 Audi Q5 40 TDI Quattro
Engine2.0-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder diesel
Power and torque 150kW at 3800-4200rpm, 400Nm at 1750-3250rpm
TransmissionSeven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive typeAll-wheel drive
Weight (unladen)1880kg
Fuel claim combined (ADR)5.4L/100km
Fuel use on test6.4L/100km
Boot volume (rear seats up / down)520L / 1520L
Turning circleN/A
ANCAP safety rating5 stars (2017)
Warranty3 years / unlimited km
Main competitorsBMW X3, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Volvo XC60
Price as tested (ex on-road costs)$72,200

At first glance, the biggest visual change to the MY2021 Audi Q5 comes at the front, Audi’s signature single-frame grille re-profiled to lend it a lower and wider appearance. Additionally, the inclusion of vertical chrome slats on the grille adds not only strength, but also visual appeal.

The positioning of the daytime-running lights has been changed too, now sitting at the top of the headlight assembly, a move Audi claims make the grille appear lower and wider, adding a sportier aesthetic to the Q5.

Subtle tweaks to the side sill trims add a sleeker profile while at the rear, Audi’s designers have again sought to make the Q5 appear wider and sportier with a horizontal chrome strip linking the tail-lights. A more pronounced rear diffuser completes the sporting vibe.

Inside, the most obvious change is the new 10.1-inch touchscreen sprouting from the dashtop. It’s replaced the outgoing model’s non-touchscreen which was operated by a rotary dialler located at hand’s reach on the centre console. However, the touchscreen requires you to lean forward to swipe through menus and sub-menus, and the lack of any physical shortcut buttons can make for a distracting experience, especially on the move. That said, Audi’s MMI navigation plus operating system is intuitive and easy to get your head around, not something that can be levelled at every carmaker’s proprietary software.

There’s smartphone mirroring via wireless Apple CarPlay, although those with Android devices will still need to plug-in using one of the four USB points (two at front, two in the second row).

There’s also a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster running Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit, DAB+ radio, multi-connection Bluetooth, tri-zone climate control and ambient LED cabin lighting.

Other standard equipment highlights include leather-appointed seats, electrically-adjustable front seats with four-way lumbar support, LED headlights and tail-lights, 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, wireless phone charging, frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and 40:20:40 folding rear seats.

Overall cabin presentation is a bit understated, even by Audi’s usually austere but elegant standards. The front seats are comfortable, especially with the standard-fit lumbar support, and the materials used throughout feel solid and well-screwed together.

A central storage bin with padded lid doubling as an arm rest and can swallow up most of the accoutrements of daily life while the door pockets are deep and generous, easily accommodating larger bottles. The obligatory front cupholder count stops at two.

The second row is spacious and comfortable too, with creature comforts for back seat passengers including air vents and separate climate controls. There are a couple of USB points as well as a 12V outlet while the fold-down central armrest hides two cupholders. The door pockets, like in the front, can take larger bottles. The middle seat is compromised though in terms of space, the large driveline tunnel eating into valuable foot and legroom. Short trips only, is our suggestion.

The cargo area – accessed via an electric tailgate – is generous, with 520 litres with the second row being used by people, expanding to 1520 litres with the back seats stowed away (40:20:40 split-fold), slightly down (by 30 litres) on the outgoing model. A cargo net helps keep your stuff secure while a space-saver spare lives under the boot floor.

Under the bonnet, the entry-level Q5 is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, matched with a 12-volt 'mild hybrid' system for outputs of 150kW (3800-4200rpm) and 400Nm (1750-3250rpm), up 10kW over the outgoing model. It’s matched with Audi’s excellent seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission, sending drive to all four wheels.

Audi claims the 40 TDI can complete the sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds, which feels on the money. It’s certainly not a lazy combination, moving away from standstill at once brisk and predictable. Around town, the Q5 settles into an easy lope, providing a comfortable and effortless driving experience.

It’s quiet too, with the clatter that defined diesels of old, totally absent. You have to remind yourself this is not a petrol powertrain, such is its quietude.

On the highway, that 2.0-litre diesel provides plenty of punch, thanks partially to that very usable torque band. Acceleration is predictable and linear, and plenty fast enough. Once highway speeds are reached, the Q5 simply hums along, never feeling stressed or overworked.

Part of that can be attributed to Audi’s excellent seven-speed dual-clutch auto which works away behind the scenes with barely a ripple. Shifts are near imperceptible, providing a refined and relaxed time behind the wheel.

But, ask more of the drivetrain, for overtakes or merges as example, and the seven-speed provides rapid downshifts and then eagerly holds onto revs for those bursts of acceleration.

It’s a refined combination, underwritten by Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system that ensures the medium SUV never feels unsettled.

The ride too, is exemplary, Audi once again nailing the suspension tune of the Q5. Small bumps and imperfections are simply dispatched with ease and larger obstacles – speed humps and the like – see the Q5 settle back quickly on its haunches.

And it remains quiet in the cabin, too, with minimal noise transmitted from the road to occupants.

It all adds up to a refined experience, the Q5 40 TDI offering comfort and performance in equal measure.

Audi claims the Q5 40TDI will get by on 5.4 litres per 100km on the combined cycle. At the Q5's launch, we covered around 300km of mixed driving, urban, freeway and some rural backroads and saw an indicated 6.4L/100km. That’s not too shabby against Audi’s claim.

The Audi Q5 range was awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating back in 2017 when this second generation first launched, scoring 93 per cent for adult occupant protection, 86 per cent for child occupant protection and 73 per cent for pedestrian protection. Safety assistance systems were scored at 53 per cent, the safety body scoring the Q5 down for a total absence of lane support systems, such as lane-keeping assist.

That has been rectified with this update, with lane-keeping assist standard across the Q5 range. It joins an already healthy list of standard active safety technology: autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver attention monitoring, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, exit warning system, off-road hill-descent control, front and rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring and Audi pre-sense rear.

Audi’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty is skinny in today’s climate where five years’ surety is increasingly the norm, and seven years’ coverage the benchmark. The Q5 diesel requires a visit to workshop every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs first. Audi offers a five-year prepaid service plan for $3350, so $670 per annum.

Audi nailed the premium medium SUV formula with the original Q5 and the second generation not only enhanced the formula, but improved on it measurably. This midlife update has lifted the bar again, ensuring the Q5 will remain near the top of buyers’ consideration list. And it be hard to go past the entry-level diesel-powered 40 TDI, which is at once premium, refined, quiet and with enough performance to satisfy most buyers’ needs.


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