As the world shifts towards electric propulsion, there’s a growing sense that people are falling into two tidy boxes; internal combustion or fully electric. Like some form of automotive tribalism, the conversations aggressively state, “You’re with us, or you’re against us”. But where does that leave cars like Audi’s latest offering, the Audi Q5 55 TFSI e plug-in hybrid? A car that seamlessly emerges as a compelling synthesis of electric and conventional propulsion. A car that’s a marriage of high-quality engineering and sustainably-slanted luxury. Well, as I found out driving Audi’s new Goldilocks model through the Gold Coast Hinterland, there is plenty to discover.
Audi Q5 55 TFSI e Design
The Q5 is instantly recognisable, encapsulating Audi’s design philosophy that marries aggression with elegance. Whether in the standard SUV silhouette or the sculpted Sportback version, its contours and lines are a proud evolution of the original Q5 launched in 2008.
The S line exterior package takes the design narrative further, with distinct S bumpers, a pronounced grille, and a tailgate spoiler, hinting at the potential that lies within. The 20-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels accentuate the vehicle’s side profile, with a five-spoke cutter design providing a striking contrast to the red brake callipers lurking beneath.
There’s a reason why the Q5 has been one of the most popular SUVs of all time, and its subtle yet well-proportioned exterior design evolution is a key factor in that success.
The interior is akin to the exterior, a progression on the familiar. Plush leather-appointed seats are expertly built in a fashion you’d expect from Audi, with material selection and build quality up there with the best in the business. Once seated, you can customise the cabin’s atmosphere with ambient lighting, choosing from an impressive palette of 30 colours in an otherwise primarily monochrome interior terrain.
Infotainment is provided via Audi’s tried and tested 10.1-inch MMI navigation plus touchscreen with some virtual cockpit goodness, ensuring a seamless blend of entertainment, information, and connectivity via an intuitive interface.
Beyond the tangible features, Audi has mastered the intangibles – the silent heroes. The acoustic comfort is exemplary, thanks to top-tier insulation and the near-silent electric motor. This tranquillity amplifies the relaxing experience in the cabin, making even long drives a place of respite.
Furthermore, Audi’s penchant for ergonomic design ensures that every control is within easy reach and every seat, front or back, provides optimal comfort. The rear passengers are treated to ample legroom and headspace, making the Q5 as accommodating for a family road trip as it is for a solo journey.
Audi Q5 55 TFSI e Driving
Beneath its conservative design lies the heart of its progressive powertrain—a 2.0-litre TFSI engine that collaborates harmoniously with an electric motor. Their partnership delivers a performance that rivals an S Q5, accelerating from 0 to 100km/h in just 5.3 seconds. The acceleration doesn’t have much audible theatre, per se, but that’s not what this car is about. Its true genius lies in its duality.
Despite such impressive performance credentials, the vehicle’s ability to travel up to 55km on quiet, emission-free electric power is very pragmatic. Driving around urban environments is pleasant and silky, and if you primarily use your Q5 for commuting or school runs, this hybrid powertrain would benefit you the most.
Through the winding roads of the Gold Coast hinterland, with its varied terrains and dynamic elevation changes, the Q5 handled everything I threw at it. The electric motor’s immediate torque, combined with the beef of the 2.0-litre TFSI engine, propelled the Q5 forward effortlessly without any noticeable stutters on powertrain transitions.
The option to seamlessly switch between driving modes – especially the purely electric mode – added a layer of tranquillity to the drive. You could silently cruise through serene sections of forest, you both powertrains harmoniously through fun patches, and even set the combustion engine to charge the battery so you’d be good for the discrete entry to dinner.
The revered Quattro all-wheel-drive system (now fortified with ultra technology) ensured peerless grip, making the SUV feel planted even on unsealed roads. The intricate balance between sportiness and comfort was palpable. You do get a sense of the increased weight under braking and tighter corners, but there is so much power and grip on tap is never enough to dull the driving experience.
The Audi Q5 55 TFSI e is the sum of its parts: sporty performance, luxurious comfort, pragmatic body style and electric sustainability, all in one package. Whether cruising the city streets or exploring the undulating terrains of the Gold Coast hinterland, its versatility is genuinely commendable.
For a new car release, it isn’t going to steal the headlines, as it doesn’t emphatically ‘wow’ you in any particular area, but that’s fine. A plug-in hybrid Q5 is like your favourite pair of Levis, only their now better in every way.
With electrification becoming the norm, hybrids like these offer a pragmatic bridge towards a fully electric future. Audi has proven that with the right blend of innovation, design, and engineering, it’s possible to cater to both performance enthusiasts and environmental advocates. It’s Audi’s Goldilocks car with a Goldilocks powertrain, and for fans of the format, it’s a powertrain worth stepping up to.
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