For the first time in the U.S. market, Audi will launch a hybrid model. The vehicle to receive the honor is an addition to its popular Q5 SUV line, and is called the 2.0 TFSI hybrid Prestige. This car with quattro all-wheel-drive will take its place alongside gas-powered siblings.
We wrote about this hybrid vehicle over a year ago as it was pending European launch as a 2012 model, after much hemming, hawing, and well-documented reluctance from years prior to hybridization by the division of the Volkswagen Group.
Aside from a 2.0T and 3.0T siblings which are also getting a mid-cycle refresh this year, the quattro hybrid now resides at the top of the model range, and is priced accordingly in a well-equipped package starting at $50,900. The 2.0T starts at $35,900, and the 3.0T starts at $43,900. An $895 destination fee is also charged for Q5 on top of the sales price plus options.
So, what kind of motive power does Audi’s premier Q5 model get? It’s a full parallel hybrid based around a 2.0-liter TFSI engine which itself delivers 211 horsepower and 258.15 pounds-feet torque. Adding to the power is an electric motor rated at 54 horsepower and 154.89 pounds-feet torque.
Total system power is rated at 245 horsepower and 354.03 pounds-feet promising acceleration to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds.
The electric motor is powered by a 266-volt, 72-cell lithium-ion battery pack which Audi’s engineers were gratified to report did not need to occupy trunk volume to house, and otherwise do not sacrifice usable space in the vehicle.
Fuel economy is 26 mpg combined according to the EPA cycle, and the power output from the four-cylinder plus electric motor is enough to make a driver not miss the V6 turbo that is also available.
Audi, as is typical for other German brands venturing into the hybrid space, has skewed the car towards performance to keep the fun quotient high, if not also costing it ultimate fuel-sipper status.
The Q5 quattro hybrid uses an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission in conjunction with the all-wheel-drive system. The driver has three drive modes to select from mild to wild via a button and with the Tiptronic shift paddle.
EV mode allows part time all-electric drive depending on circumstances, D-mode controls the internal combustion engine and the electric motor combined, and S-mode is for sporty driving and the manual shift gate of the Tiptronic work to this end.
The car’s generator as well as regenerative braking are set to keep the battery pack charged.
Audi flattened the roofline a bit for the refreshed styling that includes the hybrid model. It also gets a new grille and saves weight with an aluminum alloy hood and tailgate.
Xenon headlights are an option and all-around, the vehicle looks sharp and clean in its styling.
Inside the car, new colors and fabrics and leather are available, and the steering wheel has been redesigned including the flat bottom S line version.
Controls have been redesigned also for simplification of use.
Audi’s attempts to make the driving more enjoyable and easy include adaptive cruise control with “stop & go” and “brake guard” capability. This can detect stationary vehicles and apply full braking at less than 19 mph.
Another aid is Audi side assist, a form of blind spot detection to alert drivers of vehicles approaching along side, out of immediate view.
“Audi drive select” actively adjusts steering, suspension, engine and transmission settings. The driver can select among comfort, auto, and dynamic and customize each setting in an Individual mode.
The vehicle also has an industry first factory installed wireless Internet access. Audi calls this infotainment system Audi connect. It features onboard Audi MMI Navigation plus which utilizes Google Earth’s mapping service and real-time SiriusXM Traffic information. Also included is localized weather info, news, and real-time fuel price info. Google local search is included as well to search for thiungs like restraurant or hotel info, etc. The vehicle is also a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing and lets to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices use the wireless connectivity simultaneously.
Other 2013 Model Year Changes
All Q5 models now come with electric power steering which Audi credits with for improved economy and weight savings. The headlights are now adaptive – an option on some models, but standard on the premium hybrid.
The Q5 hybrid delivers the highest torque output of all variants – 354 pounds-feet, compared to 258 peak for the 2.0T and 295 for the 3.0T.
Its net horsepower is a bit less than the 3.0T, and the hybrid’s 0-60 time is slower by .8 seconds compared tro the 3.0T’s 6.0 seconds. The Q5s are not lightweight either, and the hybrid weighs the most – 86 pounds more than the 3.0T, at 4,431 pounds.
Top speed for all the Q5s is rated at 130 mph.
But odds are if you’re considering the hybrid, you care as much if not more about fuel economy, and here the hybrid shows where it really excels with potential short-range EV driving, a stop-start system that shuts the engine down at a stop to save fuel, and other useful tricks.
Compared to other luxury sport utility and crossovers, the Q5 Hybrid tops the BMW ActiveHybrid X6, Mercedes ML 450 Hybrid 4Matic, Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid and is just shy of the Lexus 450h AWD.
As for the other important aspect of the driver experience – handling dynamics – the Q5 hybrid’s weight penalty is only equal to that of a young child – 86 extra pounds – and the car is set up for shuttling around corners with confidence.
It has a five-link front suspension with stabilizer bar and the larger of two brake possibilities for handling and stopping duties. Ventilated brakes are 13.6 inches in front, 10.0 inches in back, the same as with the 3.0T.
Transmission ratios through the first seven gears are the same also as the 3.0T, with the exception being a taller final drive for marginally better fuel economy.
The vehicle is a solid option for those wanting an SUV with performance, style, and refinement with marginally improved fuel efficiency.