July 14, 2024


Automotive pure lust

2021 Audi Q5 Plug-in Hybrid Prioritizes Speed over Efficiency

The electric-vehicle marketplace has suddenly exploded with stylish, desirable cars, trucks, and SUVs. Vehicles that plug in to charge are now quite fashionable. The trend has even expanded to plug-in hybrids such as this 2021 Audi Q5 55 TFSI e. Launched for the 2020 model year, the Q5 55 plug-in hybrid shoehorns an 11.3-kWh battery pack and a 141-hp electric motor into the existing Q5’s powertrain for a combined output of 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.

Doing so required no compromise to the SUV’s cargo space, but its all-electric range estimate of 19 miles is worse compared with similar plug-in hybrids. The Lincoln Corsair PHEV and the Lexus NX450h+, for example, both can travel further on battery power alone. Furthermore, we observed 17 miles of electric driving at 75 mph on a full charge and were disappointed to see that, unlike the Volvo XC60 T8, the Audi isn’t able to recharge its battery using the gasoline engine. That means re-juicing can only be done if you have access to a charger.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

HIGHS: Shockingly quick acceleration, agile handling, standard all-wheel drive.

With the battery depleted, the EPA estimates the Audi’s combined fuel economy at 26 mpg; that figure is lower than the Lincoln’s 33 mpg or the 36-mpg rating for the Lexus. In fact, the nonhybrid Q5 is rated at 25 mpg combined—which makes the complicated PHEV powertrain here a questionable value just to bump that up by 1 mpg.

If it’s not that fuel efficient, and its electric driving range is puny, what’s the point of the Q5’s plug-in hybrid powertrain? Well for one thing, the Q5 55 is quick—quicker than the performance-oriented SQ5, in fact. At our test track, the Q5 55 sprinted to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, beating the last SQ5 we tested (a Sportback model) by 0.3 second. For comparison, the non-PHEV Q5 Sportback made it to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

Handling is lithe, and the 55’s 518-pound heavier curb weight compared to the regular Q5 is barely noticeable. It’s just as easy to hustle around the skidpad, too, as both models delivered the same 0.83 g result. While the Q5 55 was the quickest Q5 variant to reach 60 mph, its stopping distance from 70 mph was the longest, requiring 176 feet. The Q5 Sportback stopped seven feet shorter, and the SQ5 only needed 156 feet.

LOWS: Minimal fuel savings over the standard Q5, short electric-only driving range, indistinct styling.

On the road, the Q5’s hushed cabin is quieter still when running under electric power. When the gasoline engine kicks on as electrons run out, it does so with minimal disturbance. The ride is firm but not uncomfortably so, and the Q5’s steering is appropriately weighted but lacking somewhat in feedback.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

Other than its electrified powertrain, there’s not much else that differentiates the plug-in-hybrid model from the regular Q5. In fact, there’s nary a badge anywhere that indicates that this Q5 is packing anything special under its hood. Take your virtue signaling elsewhere. The Q5 is roomy, practical, and well equipped. At $60,740, our Premium Plus test vehicle came with a $950 Bang & Olufsen stereo, $800 20-inch wheels, and $1500 in-dash navigation with internet connectivity.

Despite a light exterior refresh for 2021, the Q5’s design is starting to look ordinary when compared to more recently introduced rivals. The Genesis GV70, for example, wears a couture style that makes the Q5 appear more off the rack in comparison.

While it may not be on the cutting edge, it’s still an Audi and it looks expensive enough that it won’t embarrass you at the valet stand. But while we like the added power and performance from the electrified powertrain, the Q5 PHEV doesn’t live up to expectations for fuel conservation, and for us that makes it a questionable value.



2021 Audi Q5 55

Vehicle Type: front-engine, mid -motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon


Base/As Tested: $52,995/$60,740

Options: Premium Plus package (auto dimming and power folding exterior mirrors, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, heated steering wheel, 360-degree camera, panoramic roof), $3900; Navigation package, $1500, Bang & Olufsen sound system, $950; 20-inch wheels, $800; Ultra Blue Metallic paint, $595


turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 248 hp, 273 lb-ft + AC motor, 141 hp, 258 lb-ft (combined output: 362 hp, 369 lb-ft; 11.3-kWh lithium-ion, 7.7-kW onboard charger) Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic


Suspension, F/R: multilink/multilink

Brakes, F/R: 13.8-in vented disc/13.0-in vented disc

Tires: Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season

255/45R-20 101H M+S AO


Wheelbase: 111.0 in

Length: 184.3 in

Width: 74.5 in

Height: 65.3 in

Passenger Volume: 99 ft3

Cargo Volume: 26 ft3

Curb Weight: 4733 lb


60 mph: 4.5 sec

100 mph: 12.2 sec

1/4-Mile: 13.2 sec @ 104 mph

120 mph: 19.1 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.

Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 4.9 sec

Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.0 sec

Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 3.9 sec

Top Speed (gov ltd): 128 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 176 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.83 g


Observed: 26 MPGe

75-mph Highway Driving, EV/Hybrid Mode: 75 MPGe/26 mpg

Highway Range, EV/Hybrid mode: 17/480 mi


Combined/City/Highway: 27/25/29 mpg

Combined Gasoline + Electricity: 61 MPGe

EV Range: 19 mi


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