Part SUV, part coupé and now partly electrified – the new Q5 Sportback is the latest in an already long line of Audi models to adopt a plug-in hybrid TFSI e powertrain. The best-of-both-worlds versatility, with the environmental and financial benefits of zero local emission electric driving, but increased range, has been made possible by an increased capacity battery. This technology also comes to the Q5 TFSI e SUV and TFSI e versions of the A6 and A7 Sportback.
Like most of its cohort the new plug-in Q5 Sportback delivers its zero local emissions driving capability with a choice of outputs – 50 TFSI e quattro models can draw on 299PS and will be available in the UK in conjunction with Sport, S line, Edition 1 and Vorsprung specification. Competition and Competition Vorsprung equipment options are fittingly reserved for 55 TFSI e quattro variants with their 367 PS power peak.
Common to all variants is a drivetrain combining an electric motor with a 2.0 TFSI petrol engine delivering 265 PS and 370 Nm (272.9 lb-ft) of torque. The permanently excited synchronous motor (PSM) with its 105 kW and 350 Nm (258.1 lb-ft) power and torque peaks is integrated into the seven-speed S tronic transmission, which channels output to a quattro drivetrain featuring ultra technology. In most situations, it supplies drive exclusively to the front wheels in the interest of efficiency, but the rear axle can be engaged predictively and in a split-second as required, ensuring that the advantages of quattro all-wheel drive are always available immediately when needed.
Complementing the ultra-reactive quattro system is a sophisticated five-link front and rear suspension configured to give comfort, stability and control equal priority. In Vorsprung and Competition Vorsprung versions the set-up is further enhanced by adaptive air springs with damper control and five ride height settings adjustable via the standard Audi drive select system.
The lithium-ion battery is located below the luggage compartment floor, and its 104 prismatic cells can store 14.4 kWh (net; 17.9 kWh gross) of energy with a voltage of 381 volts. For optimal temperature control, its cooling circuit is connected to both the coolant circuit for the air conditioning system and the low-temperature circuit that supplies the electric motor and power electronics. The air conditioning system integrates a highly efficient heat pump that capitalises on the waste heat from the high-voltage components. It can generate a heat output of up to 3 kW with 1 kW of electric energy, which increases the car’s energy efficiency and provides a more comfortable climate for the occupants.
299 PS or 367 PS: the two output levels
Differences in the boost strategies networked into the two versions of the Q5 Sportback TFSI e determine their system output and system torque. The 50 TFSI e quattro with 299 PS and 450 Nm accelerates to 62mph from a standing start in 6.1 seconds, while the 55 TFSI e quattro with 367 PS and 500 Nm dispatches the sprint in 5.3 seconds. Both top out at an electronically limited top speed of 148mph, and depending on specification both are capable of returning economy figures ranging from 141.2 MPG to 156.9 MPG, which equates to CO2 output of between 42 and 45 g/km.
In both output formats, maximum torque is available from fractionally above idle speed, giving acceleration the impressive immediacy that is one of the many benefits of electrification. When the electric motor that makes this possible is operating alone, WLTP tests have confirmed that the plug-in hybrids can travel for up to 37 miles at speeds of up to 83mph.
Drive modes and the predictive efficiency assist
Although both versions of the new Q5 Sportback TFSI e excel in comfortably accommodating long distance travel supported by ample reserves of power, they have been configured primarily to enable the majority of everyday driving to be tackled using electric drive alone as frequently as possible. This is particularly true in urban settings and stop-go traffic. The driver can, however, intervene in the interaction between the two motors by selecting one of four operating modes.
In EV mode – the default setting which is active every time the vehicle is started – the Q5 Sportback TFSI e is powered exclusively electrically until the driver exceeds a perceptible pressure point in the accelerator pedal’s travel. Hybrid mode is activated automatically when route guidance by the navigation system is initiated, but it can also be selected manually via the operating mode button. In this mode, the battery charge is distributed optimally across the route in order to keep power consumption to a minimum. In Hold mode, battery capacity is held at the current level, and in Charge mode, the drive management system increases the amount of energy in the battery with the aid of the internal combustion engine. The electric engine then works as a generator, charging the drive battery.
The control function for the drive of the two plug-in hybrids is based on a large amount of data. This includes online traffic information, distance to the destination, the route profile of the chosen route, precise information about immediate surroundings from the navigation data, such as speed limits, types of roads, uphill and downhill slopes and the latest data from the on-board sensors. If route guidance is active in the MMI navigation system, the predictive operating strategy attempts to drive the last urban segment of the route purely electrically and to arrive at the destination or charging station with the drive battery nearly empty.
Alternative routes to efficiency: recharge or coast
When the driver of either of the Q5 Sportback TFSI e models eases off the throttle pedal, the drive management system decides, depending on the situation, between coasting with the engine shut off and power recuperation, i.e the recovery of kinetic energy and its conversion into electrical energy. The electric motor can slow the car during everyday driving at up to 0.1 g and can generate an output of up to 25 kW. Brake recuperation extends up to 0.2 g and can recover up to 80 kW of electric power. The hydraulic disc brakes are activated only when heavier braking is called for.
The predictive efficiency assist (PEA) adapts the operating parameters of the coasting recuperation to suit every driving situation. It uses the predictive route data from the navigation database and monitors the distance to the vehicle ahead using signals from the camera and radar. When the adaptive cruise control (ACC) is active, the PEA supports the driver by braking and accelerating automatically in order to further enhance efficiency and comfort.
When the driver is not using ACC, haptic impulses from the active accelerator pedal as well as visual displays in the cockpit and the head-up display (where fitted) suggest when it would be beneficial to ease off the throttle. At the same time, symbols alert the driver to the reason for the reduction in speed. These include speed limits, town signs, corners and downhill slopes, roundabouts, junctions, motorway exits and traffic problems ahead.
Convenient: fast charging in just a few hours
The Audi Q5 Sportback TFSI e models are supplied as standard with the Compact charging system comprising cables for household and industrial outlets plus a control unit. The integrated charger charges the lithium ion battery with a maximum power of 7.4 kW, meaning that at a household outlet an empty battery can be fully and conveniently recharged overnight in a little over eight hours. While on the road, the driver can also charge at public charging terminals with the standard mode 3 cable with a type 2 plug, and can streamline the process by making use of Audi’s proprietary e-tron Charging Service. It offers e-tron and TFSI e customers the opportunity to subscribe to one of two attractive fixed price charging tariffs, and to access a vast number of charge points operated by 18 suppliers across the UK and Europe using one RFID payment card.
Charge management from the couch: the myAudi app
Scheduling, and controlling, charging of the Q5 Sportback TFSI e models can be conveniently taken care of via a smartphone using the myAudi app, which grants remote access to the services from the internet-based Audi Connect portfolio. As well as enabling activation of the charging process and programming of the charge timer, the app also shows the battery and range status and the charge and consumption statistics. In addition, it features a route planner which factors in charging stations, as does the MMI navigation in the car.
Another useful feature of the myAudi app is its remote pre-entry climate control functionality, which enables the driver to determine exactly how the interior should be heated or cooled while the battery is being charged so that ahead of departure it reaches the temperature last set in the car. Pre-entry climate control even works when the car is not connected to the power grid, subject to a sufficient state of charge. The system can also be upgraded to include comfort remote preconditioning, which allows the driver to adjust the cabin temperature and activate seat, steering wheel and window heating, where this is specified, remotely from a handset.
Upscale comfort: features and design details
In the supremely comfortable five-seat cabin with its attractively sculpted two-section dashboard the third generation modular infotainment system or MIB 3 is at the heart of the sophisticated and neatly integrated in-car technology. The freestanding 10.1-inch MMI monitor offers full touch-screen functionality, as well as state-of-the-art natural language voice control, and is complemented as standard by the Audi Virtual Cockpit plus with its panoramic 12.3-inch display. MMI Navigation Plus and Audi connect internet connectivity are naturally also included, meaning that the Q5 Sportback can display high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth for navigation, deliver ultra-accurate traffic information derived from the swarm intelligence of the Audi fleet and offer useful features such as a news feed, weather and travel updates, local fuel pricing listings and an on-street parking assistant.
In addition to their sophisticated navigation and connectivity technology, and depending on version, all Q5 Sportback models are equipped with features including either LED or Matrix LED headlamps, the parking system plus supported by a reversing camera, part or full leather upholstery and alloy wheels ranging in size from 18 inches in the Sport model to 21 inches in the Competition Vorsprung.
Particular specification highlights of the Vorsprung and Competition Vorsprung models include state-of-the-art OLED rear lights and a black styling package externally, and inside a panoramic glass sunroof, Bang & Olufsen 3D sound, a head-up display and an extensive portfolio of additional driver assistance systems.
Simultaneously upgraded: Q5 SUV, A6 and A7 Sportback models
The uprated battery that enables the new Q5 Sportback TFSI e quattro models to hit the ground running for even greater electric-only distances is quickly establishing itself in the wider TFSI e range. The A6 and A7 Sportback model lines, the former notably now incorporating a newly introduced Avant version of the popular 50 TFSI e quattro, also get an uprated battery. In WLTP testing these cars achieved an impressive zero emission driving range of up to 41 miles in UK Sport specification for the Avant, only marginally behind the equivalent Saloon with its 43-mile scope. The A7 Sportback has an all-electric range of 42 miles.
These three models are priced from £53,340 OTR for the A6 Saloon, £55,440 OTR for the Avant and £60,290 OTR for the A7 Sportback.
BIK taxation – from 10% to 6% in many cases
The additional miles coverable in zero-emission EV mode are of course the key benefit unlocked by the new battery, but its impact on running costs, and most notably benefit-in-kind (BIK) taxation charges for business users, is also important, not least as a means of maximising and broadening the appeal of more environmentally compatible travel. Following the improvements, the BIK tax rate for the majority of A6 50 TFSI e quattro Saloon models decreases from 10 percent to 6 percent, and this rate also applies to Sport and S line versions of the new A6 Avant 50 TFSI e quattro. Sport, S line and Black Edition versions of the upgraded A7 Sportback also fall into this category.
Like the new Q5 Sportback, all the improved TFSI e models are available in either 299PS 50 TFSI e quattro or 367PS 55 TFSI e quattro forms, the latter allied to exclusive Competition and Competition Vorsprung trims. The Q5 SUVs and Sportbacks can be ordered via UK Audi Centres now, and the enhanced A6 and A7 Sportback models will become available in early March.