Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro 2021 road test review

Red Audi Q5 side on static

Tim Nicholson

Posted September 20, 2021

The mid-life facelift for the second-generation Audi Q5 landed on Australian shores at the start of 2021, ushering in exterior design tweaks, upgraded in-car tech, and new engines.

It has always had a reputation as a great driver’s car and is consistently one of the top sellers among the premium medium SUV set, but increased competition from rivals puts pressure on the Q5. Has the Audi lost its lustre, or is it still one of the best in a sea of new competition?

Thumbs up

Excellent driver-assist features, class-leading in-car tech, well-equipped model grade, ride and handling.

Thumbs down

Not as responsive as some turbo diesels, interior dated compared to newer Audi models.

Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro.
Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro.

How much does the Audi Q5 cost? 

As part of the update that arrived in February, pricing increased slightly across the Q5 range, but it comes with an uptick in infotainment tech and more. As well as the regular Q5 SUV, Audi now offers a coupe-style Sportback version with a sloping roofline and tailgate.

Pricing for the SUV ranges from $68,900 to $104,900 before on-road costs, with a pair of petrol variants and four diesels, including the performance-focused SQ5. The Q5 Sportback is available in 40 TDI, 45 TFSI and SQ5 from $77,700 to $110,900. We tested the regular Q5 40 TDI quattro Launch Edition SUV priced from $78,300. The Launch Edition is limited in numbers, but this review is relevant to the regular diesel-powered Q5 40 TDI quattro and quattro Sport.

The Launch Edition gains extras like special 20-inch alloy wheels, black exterior styling package, metallic paint, tinted windows and more. Our test car was fitted with some additional options, including a climate-controlled drink holder, black gloss inserts, and digital OLED tail-lights, as well as the Technik package featuring dynamic matrix LED headlights, a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system and a head-up display. The extras pushed the price to $87,160.

The big three Germans – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – aren’t known for their generosity when it comes to standard equipment. Endless options and options packages are designed to tempt buyers into ever more features that push that final price up. This particular Q5 model grade is well equipped, and there isn’t much missing from the features list. It’s the entry-level variants that are usually missing features that should be standard in a premium car.

If you’re set on buying a diesel in this segment, there aren’t that many to choose from anymore. The Mercedes-Benz GLC, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, and Porsche Macan no longer come with a diesel, and the Lexus NX never had the option. BMW’s X3, the Volvo XC60, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Range Rover Evoque and the freshly launched Genesis GV70 are the only other models with an oil-burning option.

Of these equivalently priced diesel rivals, only the newbie Genesis GV70 bests the Audi for standard gear for the price.


What safety features does it have? 

As well as a 5-star ANCAP rating, the Q5 has a solid list of standard safety equipment. The entry variant misses some features found in higher grades, but the Sport and Launch Edition are well kitted out.

Audi’s lane-keeping aid is one of the smoothest, least intrusive systems we’ve experienced. The automatic steering wheel corrections are so subtle you can’t feel them. The system just works in the background without the driver noticing. Some systems from other manufacturers can feel like a tug of war with the steering wheel. The adaptive cruise control, too, is exceptionally well-calibrated. It subtly adjusts the speed to that of the vehicle ahead rather than racing up behind it and braking. 

Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro.
Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro.
Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro.

What's the space like inside?

Expectations are always high when you jump inside an Audi. The German brand has a solid reputation for premium materials, build quality and interior design.

This generation of Q5 went on sale back in 2017, and it’s showing its age inside compared to some of its newer stablemates like the Q3 and e-tron SUVs. The Q5’s dash lacks the integrated double screens and edgy styling flourishes of those models. Instead, the 9.0-inch multimedia screen juts up from the top of the dash and looks tacked on.

There’s little wrong with the infotainment system itself, with a simple menu that doesn’t overwhelm the user and the ability to swipe from side to side for different functions. It’s a shame Audi ditched the central infotainment controller housed in the console. It’s now touchscreen only.

Audi’s brilliant Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster is still the best in the business. Users can select different views, and it has a navigation display.

You’ll never leave your phone in the car again, thanks to Audi’s handy warning. Just as you’re about to exit the vehicle, an audio message states, “Your mobile phone is still in the vehicle.”

Storage is a strong point, with not one but three spots to hold your mobile phone, including the wireless charger in the central storage bin. There’s no faulting the quality of the cabin materials, and the look and feel of the switchgear and stubby gear shifter is spot on.

The Q5’s chunky leather three-spoke steering wheel has easily identifiable controls, but it’s a shame the cruise buttons are housed on an additional stalk behind the wheel rather than on the wheel itself.  

The leather-appointed seats with contrast white stitching feature a cool pattern. The seats are well-bolstered and supportive but on the firmer side of comfortable.

We spent a decent stint in the rear seats, which are also supportive thanks to some bucketing. The second row has a central armrest with cup holders, and the seats split 60/40.

Rear seat passengers have access to climate controls, knee-level air vents, map pockets and large bottle storage, while large windows ensure plenty of light gets in.

Most occupants will find ample headroom and more than enough toe and legroom.

Boot capacity of 520 litres with all seats in place is decent for the segment. It’s more than the Volvo XC60 (505L) but a bit less than the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC (550L). The Q5 comes with a space-saver spare wheel.

Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro.
Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro.
Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro.

How does it drive?

The updated Q5 range is available with a number of new powertrains, and most of them offer mild-hybrid technology.

Our 40 TDI uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine pumping out 15kW (10kW more than the previous version) and 400Nm, paired with a 12-volt mild hybrid system. It drives all four wheels thanks to Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system, via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

There’s little lag when accelerating from a standard start, and Audi says it covers 0-100km/h in 7.6 seconds. If you’re after a faster diesel, you’ll need to step up to the 50 TDI with the 210kW/620Nm six-cylinder unit or the performance hero SQ5 outputting 251kW/700Nm.

Audi’s diesel engine is so smooth it’s difficult to tell you’re driving a diesel. It’s responsive and lacks the rattle of some more agricultural units. The smooth powertrain and noise suppression materials make for a hushed cabin on most road surfaces.

The Q5 has always been one of the most dynamically capable medium SUVs in the premium space, and that’s still the case. It holds the road remarkably well and has grip for days. The Q5 corners with confidence, aided in part by the quattro all-wheel-drive system.

An unsealed, uneven bush track highlighted the Q5’s composure. It’s no off-roader by any stretch, but it maintained traction on a loose gravel road and the pockmarked track.

The ride quality on regular roads and highways is also impressive, with only the sharpest road imperfections unsettling the comfortable ride.

The frugal 40 TDI sips just 5.4L/100km of diesel, according to Audi. After more than a week of extensive country, highway, back road and urban driving, we recorded 6.6L/100km.

The verdict

A long weekend drive (before lockdown) from Melbourne to Yarrawonga and back was the perfect test for the Q5. We did a lot of driving on roads of varying quality, and by the time we were home, we honestly couldn’t fault it. The Q5 continues to offer a balance of overall comfort and diver engagement that some of its rivals lack. The fact that the 40 TDI is frugal is a bonus. The healthy standard gear of this Launch Edition (and the similarly priced quattro Sport for that matter) elevates the Q5 to one of the segment’s best. 

Audi Q5 40 TDI Launch Edition 2021


List price: $78,300 before on-road costs.

Price as tested: $87,160 before on-road costs.

Model range: $68,900 to $110,900 before on-road costs.


2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, all-wheel drive.

Power: 150kW@3800-4200rpm.

Torque: 400Nm@1750-3250rpm.

Wheels: 235/45 R20.


Diesel, 65-litre fuel tank.

Consumption:  5.4L/100km (government test), 6.6/100km (RACV test).

Emissions: 143g/km CO2 emissions.

Standard safety

5-star ANCAP rating, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, eight airbags, driver attention assist, lane-keeping aid, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go.

Standard features

Keyless entry and start, three-zone air conditioning, power tailgate with gesture control, heated front sports seats, heated, folding and auto-dimming exterior mirrors, panoramic sunroof, digital instrument cluster, 10.1-inch touchscreen with digital radio, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. 


Three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Five-year servicing plan. Service intervals every 12 months/15,000km. 

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