2021 Audi Q5 facelift first drive review
Over the last few months, given the electric vehicle launches Audi India has presented, you'd be mistaken to think that the company was changing its focus from ICE cars to EVs. That however is not the case, and Audi is gearing up to introduce newer versions and all-new vehicles to add to their fleet, and it begins with the 2021 Audi Q5, a facelifted and updated version of one of their highest selling SUV models. The Audi Q5 is built on the MLB platform and this underpins several other vehicles in the Audi range, including sedans and compact SUVs. So over the course of the year, you will see more revisions to existing models coming up rather than completely new models.
2021 Audi Q5 facelift styling
The biggest changes to the facelifted Audi Q5 are largely cosmetic, and you'd notice the similarity of the design cues with other recent models, especially the e-tron. This new design language is applied across the range of sedans and SUVs that Audi offers globally and is attractive. The grille shape has changed, it has gone from the hexagonal shape to an octagon with sharper, better-defined edges.
There is much application of chrome and shiny bits to give it an upmarket feel, and I do like the chromed vertical slats which disrupt the horizontal highlighters we were used to by now. The LED headlamp signature has changed as well, and for the more curious amongst you, you don't get the famous Matrix headlamps. The bumpers have also been remodelled, and the intakes at the corners have a new signature design. You will notice a blanked out area with dummy caps on them, this is for the radar sensors it is equipped with in other markets where advanced driver systems are available with this package. The for-India Q5 will not be getting the system.
2021 Audi Q5 facelift interiors
Step inside the cabin and you also notice the not so subtle revisions to the dashboard. Two significant changes are the absence of the jog dial that previously allowed you control over several of the Audi Q5's infotainment and drive functions, and fewer buttons on the dashboard, most of which have now moved to the 10.1-inch non-collapsible MMI display unit.
Audi India will offer two interior colour versions for the Q5 at the time of launch, one of which is the creamy beige version we drove and the other a richer chocolatier brown. The dashboard however will be the same black with slightly grey and chrome tones. Quality in some areas is fantastic, like the soft-touch surfaces on top of the dash, and even the quality of the dials and some knobs which feel slimmer, have a light knurling and generally twist and rotate seamlessly. However, some plastic quality of certain parts such as the chrome highlighter running across the dash, the chromed door handles and the chrome steering spoke do feel like there were compromises were made to keep costs in check. Largely though, this is a superbly built cabin, and one of my favourite features has to be the climate control switches and the array of buttons just below it, which are all touch-sensitive. You don't have to press down hard, a simple feather touch/swipe over the button engages the function.
The MMI works well, and it is relatively easy to navigate, however, I'm not in favour of touchscreens of any sort. The Audi MMI definitely draws your eye away from the road, and it's best to stop the vehicle and make any changes required.
While dimensions haven't changed, the Q5 continues to be a spacious cabin to be in. Large glass areas and light coloured upholstery enhance the perception of space. I do wish it had a slightly longer wheelbase which would amplify the interior space considerably, at least compared to the other SUVs in its category.
2021 Audi Q5 facelift driving impressions
Moving on to the mechanicals, the updated Q5 urges you to enjoy the 2.0-litre turbocharged direct-injection petrol. It's a sharp engine with immediate responses and enough heft to make any drive a thoroughly enjoyable one. Peak power of 249PS is available between 5,000 6,000rpm whereas 370Nm of torque, the highest in the class, maxes out at 1,600rpm stretching all the way up to 4300rpm. The 2021 Audi Q5 also gets a new array of drive modes, which allows both off-road functionality and individual selections, in addition to the auto, comfort, dynamic and efficiency modes. In off-road mode, the system switches off the electronic stability control (ESC) to ensure torque is not strangled when you might need it most. You also get downhill descent assistance and it works quite well. All in all, you can easily enjoy some moderate trails and even uphill or downhill sections that don't require much technicality.
The new Q5 also gets adaptive dampers though you cant adjust ride height. These work quite well to provide a neutral dynamic quality as well as supple ride which is surprisingly not affected by the new 19" 23/55 profile Continentals.
However I did feel the steering was a bit too light for my liking irrespective of the driving modes, and a little more weight at speed would dial in more confidence. The dynamics of the Audi Q5 for an SUV of this order are spot on, though from memory I'd say the BMW X3 feels slightly more fun to pilot, with the Mercedes GLC lagging moderately behind the Q5.
2021 Audi Q5 facelift verdict and expected prices
The new Q5 is ideal as a family wagon, and while it is at the fag-end of its life cycle, the changes do give it a remarkable lift-me-up. It is attractive, has some lovely touches inside and the performance from the engine or its dynamic abilities are to be enjoyed. I like it for its repertoire, both as a comfortable urban mover and an equally smooth and enjoyable highway cruiser. Prices for the 2021 Audi Q5 should start from around Rs 60 lakh, ex-showroom, when the SUV launches in the next few weeks.
Images by Anis Shaikh
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