2021 Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro review

The Audi Q5 was already a very good mid-sized SUV, but a recent update has made it better. The 40 TDI might not be the engine you want, though.

1 week ago
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Scott Collie
News Editor
PROS
  • Handsome, inside and out
  • Well-specced at the base level
  • Quiet, smooth diesel engine
CONS
  • 40 TDI Launch Edition is nudging 50 TDI money
  • Rear space is adequate, but not standout
  • Still plenty of options

Say hello to one of Audi’s most important cars.

Forget about the A4 sedan, luxury buyers are clamouring to get behind the wheel of mid-sized SUVs like the Audi Q5.

Speaking of which, the Q5 has been given a healthy update for 2021.

More than just a nip-and-tuck, the updated Q5 has fresh interior technology, new engines with mild-hybrid trickery, and much sharper pricing.

There’s also the return of the range-topping SQ5 TDI as a full-time model, sitting above the heavily-specced 50 TDI Sport.

But with those two flagships yet to dock in Australia, the only diesel Q5 you can get your hands on right now is the 40 TDI. Does it have what it takes to lure people away from petrol power?

How much does the Audi Q5 40 TDI cost?

The 40 TDI Quattro is the cheapest model in the 2021 Audi Q5 range, priced from $68,900 before on-road costs.

However, the Launch Edition on test here kicks off at $78,300 before on-roads. Just 400 are destined for our shores across the 45 TFSI and 40 TDI ranges, of which just 150 will be the diesel.

In other words, the car you’re looking at here is actually quite rare.

Our tester came loaded with options, sending its price further north.

The climate-controlled cupholders ($390), gloss black exterior accents ($450), piano black interior inlays ($520), digital OLED tail lights ($2500), and Technik Package ($5000, LED matrix headlights, Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, privacy glass, head-up display), bumped the price to $87,160 before on-road costs.

At that point, it’s probably worth considering the more powerful and better-featured Q5 50 TDI Quattro S line at $89,600 before on-roads.

The starting price of the Q5 40 TDI puts it in line with the BMW X3 xDrive 20d on power and torque, but the Audi is $4000 more expensive.

It’s also around $8000 more expensive than the base Mercedes-Benz GLC, although the Benz is now petrol only.

Audi also argues the generous standard equipment list in the Q5 more than justifies the price. There’s no doubt it has a long list of standard inclusions, more on which is below.

What do you get?

Audi has gone hard with the standard equipment in its facelifted Q5.

Every model packs keyless entry and start, leather seats with powered adjustment and lumbar up front, tri-zone climate control (two front, one rear), a frameless and auto-dimming interior mirror, LED head- and tail lights, and a strong range of active safety assistance features.

The 2021 update brought about a 10.1-inch touchscreen mounted high on the dashboard and running the latest MMI touch software, and it’s backed by a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument binnacle.

DAB+ radio, Apple CarPlay (wireless), Android Auto, and factory satellite navigation with Google Maps and live traffic updates are standard, along with wireless phone charging.

Moving to the limited-run Launch Edition brings metallic paint, 20-inch alloy wheels, the black exterior package, carbon-fibre exterior mirrors (real, not fake), and privacy glass and a panoramic glass sunroof on the outside.

Inside you get black or rock leather seats with contrast stitching, faux leather trim for the door armrests and lower centre console also with contrast stitching, floor mats with (you guessed it) contrast stitching, illuminated door sill trims, and the colour ambient light package.

MORE: 2021 Audi Q5 price and specs

Is the Audi Q5 40 TDI safe?

The Audi Q5 carries over its five-star ANCAP safety rating from the pre-facelift model.

Put through its paces by Euro NCAP in 2017, the Audi Q5 scored 93 per cent for adult occupant protection, 86 per cent for child occupant protection, 73 per cent for pedestrian protection, and 58 per cent for safety assist.

All versions of the Q5 in Australia come equipped with eight airbags, along with the following active safety equipment:

  • Autonomous emergency braking for vehicles and pedestrians
  • Driver attention monitoring
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic assist
  • Exit warning
  • Reversing camera
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Pre-sense rear, which primes the safety systems if a rear-end collision is anticipated.

What is the Audi Q5 40 TDI like on the inside?

With a simple, intuitive layout – how typically Teutonic – and high-quality materials, there really isn’t much more you could ask for from the Q5 inside.

The driver and passenger sit in comfortable, supportive leather seats with a huge range of adjustment, and the driving position is excellent. You sit high for a clear, commanding view of the road ahead, but there’s still plenty of headroom for tall drivers with the panoramic sunroof. Tick.

Speaking of the panoramic sunroof, it really is massive. Not only does it flood the cabin with sunlight, its opening is genuinely huge. It’s more convertible than cat flap, which isn’t necessarily the case with its rivals.

Unlike some of Audi’s more recent cars, the Q5 backs its touchscreen infotainment system with physical buttons and dials for climate control.

It’s a good blend. The 10.5-inch touchscreen sitting atop the dashboard is simple to use on the move, with crisp graphics and lightning quick responses. The way the screen makes a button-like ‘click’ when you press it mightn’t sound like a big deal, but it means you don’t need to take your eyes off the road to confirm inputs.

Wireless Apple CarPlay worked flawlessly, and the sliding wireless phone charger is a good addition to the Q5.

It’s a bit annoying the pad either covers the cupholders or the space beneath the central armrest though, given needing to access the storage bin and having a coffee in the car aren’t mutually exclusive.

As you’d expect of an Audi, the buttons and switches on the dashboard and steering wheel have a beautiful click-clack to them, and all the materials feel of a high quality.

It’s also no surprise the 12.3-inch digital instrument binnacle is super sharp, super fast, and super customisable. It’s the best in the business, no question.

Although storage space is good, the ashtray-sized slot on the transmission tunnel where the MMI infotainment controller and buttons once sat is an awkward size, and is a sign of the Q5’s age.

There’s deep door pockets, a slim slot beneath the dashboard, and a generous glovebox up front to round things out.

Rear seat space is acceptable without being standout.

Headroom is good without quite being BMW X3 spacious, and legroom is fine for average-sized adults behind average-sized adults.

With air vents, a standalone climate control zone, and two USB ports back there, there’s nothing for the kids to complain about.

The new Q5 has up to 520L of cargo capacity in five-seat configuration, expanding to 1520L with the rear backrests folded flat.

What’s under the bonnet?

Power in the Q5 40 TDI comes from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.

Although it’s been labelled a mild-hybrid powertrain, the 12V system in this particular car is more of a fancy start/stop system.

It’s capable of cutting the engine out at speed for proper coasting and makes for smoother start/stop when you’re approaching a set of lights, but can’t provide a performance boost like the 48V MHEV systems available elsewhere in the Audi line-up.

The engine has a claimed 150kW of power and 400Nm of torque, sent to the road through a Quattro all-wheel drive system and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

It’ll hit 100km/h in a claimed 7.6 seconds from standstill, and flat out you’ll be doing 222km/h.

Claimed fuel economy is 5.4L/100km on the combined cycle, we saw 7.6L/100km on a drive loop with city, highway, and some spirited back road blasting.

Along with its miserly economy claim, Audi says the new 40 TDI engine has its new twin-dosing Selective Catalytic Reduction system, which uses AdBlue to help reduce NOx emissions by more than 90 per cent.

How does the Audi Q5 40 TDI drive?

At risk of selling short the Q5’s talents, it feels exactly like you’d expect a mid-sized Audi SUV to feel on the open road.

It’s competent in the extreme; impressively smooth and every bit as solid as you’d expect.

Fire up the 2.0-litre diesel engine and immediately its refinement shines through. It’s properly hushed inside, with limited clatter or diesel-like chug at idle, and you’re hard-pressed to feel any vibrations through the steering wheel or door trims.

That low-key character is also reflected in its performance when you put your foot down. With 400Nm of pulling power available down low in the rev range, it gets off the mark quickly and feels relatively punchy on the move, although it’s never anything more than that.

Overtaking at highway speeds isn’t exactly hair-raising, but it’s also not effortless in the manner of a larger, more powerful diesel.

In the base Q5 40 TDI trim that’s perfectly acceptable, but the Launch Edition as tested here is only $2500 cheaper than the V6 50 TDI.

With 60kW and 220Nm more, not to mention a more sophisticated 48V mild-hybrid system, the 50 TDI is worth a look if it’s performance you’re after.

Although it features a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the Q5 feels overwhelmingly normal to drive in town. Its start/stop system functions smoothly, and there’s no awkward jerking off the mark or on light throttle inputs.

As is often the case with small-capacity Volkswagen Group engines, the transmission is always keen to shuffle to the highest possible gear for better fuel economy.

That can dull the engine’s response slightly, but it’s solved by a firmer prod of the right-hand pedal.

With light steering and decent all-round visibility, not to mention a quiet interior, the Q5 is a lovely place to spend time in the city.

The ride is well sorted, soaking up hard-edged lumps and potholes without fuss. It feels Euro-taut, so there’s no rocking or rolling over highway dips or crests.

In fact the 40 TDI does some of its best work on the open road, where roar from the tyres and wind is also impressively suppressed, the engine sips fuel as it ticks over below 2000rpm, and the ride separates occupants from the worst the road has to offer.

There’s also a bit of fun to be had in the corners. Flick into Sport and the steering gets a bit heavier, and the engine responds a bit more sharply to throttle input to create the sense of a more focused, serious sports SUV.

It’s no sports car, of course, but the Q5 is well sorted when you grit your teeth and start pushing on.

There’s oodles of grip, and the car feels dead neutral when you drive it hard.

Shifts from the dual-clutch transmission are sharply executed when you take charge with the paddles on the steering wheel, although the 2.0-litre diesel engine isn’t the most characterful or effervescent engine when pushed.

How much does the Audi Q5 40 TDI cost to run?

The Audi Q5 is backed by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. It also has 24/7 roadside assistance for the same period. It’s a shame Audi hasn’t followed in the footsteps of Mercedes-Benz in offering a five-year warranty.

Maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000km.

Audi offers five-year service packages. Paid upfront, they’ll set you back $3160 for the diesel on test here, or $2720 for the petrol models.

CarExpert’s take on the Audi Q5 40 TDI Launch Edition

The Audi Q5 was a fundamentally good car before its update, so it’s no surprise the 2021 Q5 remains a solid and refined mid-sized SUV.

With updated interior technology and a well-stocked standard equipment list, there’s no doubt it will put plenty of pressure on the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC on the sales charts.

The 40 TDI Launch Edition doesn’t quite feel like the right spec, though.

We’ll reserve full judgement for when we’ve had time to drive the 45 TFSI and 50 TDI on local roads, but our early hunch is the revvier petrol engine could be a better bet if you’re on a budget, and the meaningfully more muscular 50 TDI makes more sense when you go a bit harder on the options.

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MORE: Audi Q5 news and reviews


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OVERALL RATING7.9
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 7.9
Ride Comfort 8.2
Safety 8.3
Fit for Purpose 8
Handling Dynamics 7.8
Interior Practicality and Space 7.8
Fuel Efficiency 8
Value for Money 7.1
Performance 7.2
Technology Infotainment 8.4