Test Drive: 2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid car test drives luxury cars audi
2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

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Audi Canada

Review and photos by Steven Bochenek

Photo Gallery:
2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid

Typically I’m not much of a crossover proponent but the Q5 Hybrid isn’t typical. (Interesting: Not long ago ‘hybrid’ and ‘crossover’ would have sounded redundant in one sentence.) There’s a lot to recommend it as a primary family car or a city dweller’s weekend escape pod – starting with the welcome fact that there’s no ‘X’ in its name, declaring its crossover-ness.

It’s pretty by SUV standards, a sleeker riff on its zaftig sister, Q7. On profile it’s reminiscent of the classic Zephyr train or the Rocketeer movie poster. Head-on it’s a male cat, fluffing up for a fight. The look suggests strength and speed and the Q5 has all the power you’d want to back that up.

So let’s start with that power. Plenty of launch is important in the city for seizing opportunities in traffic and escaping sudden snarls.

At the risk of sounding overly technical, hybrids are heavy because they contain more stuff — same goes for all-wheel drive — and extra weight slows acceleration. But this all-wheel-drive hybrid weighs 2,545 kg and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in seven seconds.

From a four-cylinder engine? (The Q5 3.0 TFSI has a supercharged V6 engine that helps it reach 100-km/h in a neck-snapping 6.2 seconds!) How?

It’s direct injected and turbocharged. The high gear ratios in first and second gears aid sudden acceleration. You achieve maximum engine hp of 211 from just 4,300 rpm to 6,000 and max torque of 258 lb-ft from just 1,500 rpm to 4,200. Furthermore the automatic transmission integrates a 54-hp electric motor to supplement the 2.0T’s prodigious torque. With tiptronic shifting the transmission can be controlled manually, but it also has a Sport mode that revs higher in lower gears and increases acceleration sooner.

In short it’s powerful.

Test Drive: 2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid car test drives luxury cars audi Test Drive: 2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid car test drives luxury cars audi Test Drive: 2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid car test drives luxury cars audi Test Drive: 2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid car test drives luxury cars audi
2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

But for all that strength it’s not bad on fuel, a good thing because the premium engine only sips premium gasoline. Go gently at slow speeds in the city to milk that hybrid system and delay filling that 75-L gas tank.

With eight gears, versus the traditional five or six, you get a wider range of ratios between them, allowing for better acceleration better fuel efficiency at higher speeds. Also note its sloping windshield in the profile photo. Without compromising driver visibility the slope contributes to a favourable drag coefficient of .33, quite good in an SUV.

Its published fuel economy stats are 8.6 L/100 km in the city and 6.9 on the highway. I was trending from half to a full kilometre above those during the week I had it, but it was riding on snow tires, running on winter gas and, like hybrids, my foot contains more stuff. For its size and weight (the car, not my foot), that’s still efficient fuel economy.

Nonetheless you’ll want to get to know the cruise control. I was disappointed that adaptive cruise control is only an option. (It ‘adapts’ to the speed and distance of what you’re tailing and slows accordingly, no matter the speed you’ve programmed cruising at, until there’s no longer an obstacle in front.) For the money, that seemed a touch mean.

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