Audi Q5 TSFIe First Drive: A Plug-In Hybrid With Incredible Road Presence

Audi Q5 TSFIe First Drive: A Plug-In Hybrid With Incredible Road Presence

It’s rare that Gizmodo Australia will take on a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), having previously only done a handful, and most recently having done the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in 2022, but if we were to do any of PHEV, I’m glad it was the Audi Q5 TSFIe.

The Audi Q5 TSFIe is everything that I’ve come to expect from a car sporting the legendary ‘Quattro’ badge. With extremely tough AWD control that turns a big car into a nimble powerhouse, Audi’s new Q5 (which debuted overseas in 2019 and has just come down under) is best described as a ‘Goldilocks car’. Audi has a fleshed-out electric vehicle range right now, and with 2033 marked as the date Audi will go all-electric, this is one of the PHEVs that will carry the brand through its electric transition.

I didn’t get as much time with the Q5 as I usually get with an EV review, but I did get enough time behind the wheel for a ‘first impressions’ piece, similar to the BYD Atto 3 and the Mitsubishi Outlander.

So, how does the new Quattro fare?

The standard Audi Q5 TSFIe (left) beside the Sportsback version (right). Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Uno, Dos, Dres

The Audi Q5 TSFIe is pure AWD grunt combined a luxurious interior feeling. Defaulting to ‘EV’ mode when you start the car, the Q5 TSFIe can be driven in a handful of modes, depending on how much responsiveness you want, how much energy/fuel you want to consume, and how the battery and petrol engine work in tandem.

Among the cars we’ve driven, the Audi Q5 TSFIe is peerless. Compared by price, the Tesla Model Y Performance and Kia EV6 GT are most similar, although, where these cars could find appreciation among prospective electric vehicle owners, the Q5 TSFIe is more of a touchstone for luxury performance.

Across the entire range, the Audi Q5 TSFIe is AWD, although it can switch to 2WD if you’d like to save fuel. Its battery is capable of travelling 55km WLTP, while the petrol fuel tank will propel the car for about 600km.

Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Just for a point of comparison – the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV ($54,490) had an expected battery range of about 84km, with another 800km of estimated petrol range. Just for a rough comparison to electric cars, the fairly luxurious and brilliant Kia EV6 offers an all-electric range of 528km WLTP at $76,000. The Audi Q5 TSFIe starts at $102,900 in Australia.

There’s hardly a value argument to be made with the Audi Q5 TSFIe among PHEVs simply based on them being PHEVs, and among electric cars, range has caught up drastically. Not on par, not just yet, but the luxury you’ll get from the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6 Air is considerable beside the Q5 TSFIe, to say the least.

Audi Q5 TSFIe

The Audi Q5 TSFIe is all jubliance. Whether it’s flooring the car up a mountain, or turning the climate control down, the Q5 TSFIe is an uncompromising luxury car.

For me, the Q5 TSFIe is an interesting touchstone for luxury performance from the European market (as the only Euro car we’ve reviewed up until now has been the incredible Cupra Born) – its operating system is fast and responsive, its button and controls layout is exceptionally well done, and I’m a really big fan of the fact that you can view your Google Maps information right behind the steering wheel, just like in the Polestar 2. It’s one of many settings that I liked in the car, along with wireless Android Auto – the first car that we’ve reviewed that has this feature. Yes, really.

Audi Q5 TSFIe
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Seriously, this layout rocks. Everything I need to have tactile feedback with is here, including the mode-switching options (the ‘EV’ button and the ‘drive select’ buttons directly beside. The seats feel brilliant too, as does the backseat (it wasn’t as spacious feeling as the Model Y, but it was certainly as comfortable).

Moving on from these features, let’s talk about the main event: actually driving the thing. Among the AWD cars I’ve driven, the Q5 TSFIe definitely got the best workout – among the hills and windy roads west of the Gold Coast. As my ears popped when ascending and descending the mountainous roads, the car didn’t slip up once. even when barrelling downhill on a tight corner, the car had among the best road presence I’ve ever felt.

Audi Q5 TSFIe

And yeah, that’s the whole shtick with an AWD car, but around tight corners, I didn’t feel particularly strained when turning or decelerating, whereas I certainly have in other AWDs. Admittedly, most of my experience with AWD cars come from the opposite end of the price spectrum with second-hand Subarus, but the Audi Q5 gets it right on all fronts. This thing is an absolute joy to drive.

But luxury is abundant among EV rivals

I do think it’s worth interrogating buying this car as an environmental choice, however.

A PHEV is better for the environment than a petrol-only car, obviously, and this thing can be charged using a Type 2 charger (but not a CCS2 DC charger) without the need for petrol, but at the moment while Audi’s electric-only ‘e-tron’ range is quite expensive (with the cheapest model, the Q8 e-tron, starting at $138,999), I can imagine many buyers are looking left and right for an electric alternative at the price point of the Q5 TSFIe.

And while range parity with the Q5 TSFIe is currently uncommon among electric vehicles, the luxury aspect isn’t – with EVs currently more expensive than petrol vehicles, the luxury angle is quite heavily leaned on. I didn’t feel as if the Q5 TSFIe was overwhelmingly more luxurious than the similarly priced Tesla Model Y, or even compared to the much cheaper Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6, but it was certainly more tame and self-controlled with its interior design, lacking much of the flare that the Ioniq 5 and EV6 have and settling for a confident and sophisticated aesthetic.

I can’t fault the Q5 TSFIe on many fronts, but I do wonder if Audi is missing out by not offering a cheaper all-electric model at a lower price point, to compete with other brands with cheaper EVs, that are so obviously coming for its lunch in the luxury space.

If there’s one takeaway I have from my time with the Audi Q5 TSFIe, it’s that it’s everything I expected a ‘Quattro’ to be. It’s a beautiful car with a lot of power.

The Audi Q5 TSFIe starts at $102,900 in Australia, and $110,200 for the Sportback version, before on-road costs. Both models are available now.

Zachariah Kelly travelled to Queensland as a guest of Audi Australia.

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