The 2021 Audi Q5 and SQ5 are on their way with some significant cosmetic changes, but perhaps more importantly, there will be a standard mild-hybrid powertrain and an optional plug-in hybrid variant for the Q5. The new Q5 will go on sale by the end of this year.
The facelifted Q5 family will also get the latest Audi infotainment and safety technology, further modernizing the platform that first arrived in the U.S. for the 2018 model year. And Audi is rightly proud of its new OLED taillight technology, available on the SQ5, that allows the buyer to choose one of a few rear illuminated signatures – a unique opportunity to individualize.
Compact SUV Competition:
Most obviously, the Q5 family gets a significant raft of visual alterations. Up front, the large grille has been refined somewhat, with a thinner outside frame that no longer butts up against the headlights. Standard LED high and low beams and a more intricate daytime running lamp design tie the SUV in with the bombastic RS6 Avant sport wagon, at least on the District Green Q5 S-Line Audi showed off. The new Q5’s front appearance also seems to fall in line with new styling features seen on the 2019 Q3, as well as the recently updated 2020 Q7.
That optional S-Line exterior package also includes an aggressive hexagonal grille texture that we think looks great on the small luxury SUV, along with bold air intakes in the bumper corners and a front “skid plate” rendered in gloss black. An “advanced line” exterior package is standard, boasting vertical chrome grille bars and silver accents in the front and rear bumpers that recall the Allroad family. Advanced line SUVs will be available with new 18-, 19-, or 20-inch wheel designs, while the S-Line gets standard 19- or optional 20-inch wheels.
The rear of the Q5 sees fewer changes relative to the outgoing 2020 Q5. Most obviously, the taillights are new, boasting OLED technology that, for now, is kept exclusive to the SQ5 in the US. These OLEDs feature one of four rear lighting designs that the owner can choose when ordering their new SUV, although we wonder if the design can be changed after purchase.
Audi’s innovative Matrix LED technology is also available on the Q5 for the first time, coming standard on the top-spec Prestige trim. The Prestige will also receive dynamic front turn signals and “leaving home” headlight/taillight animations – a slightly tacky feature that we can’t help but like.
The Electric Company
The 2021 Audi Q5 has a new, standard mild-hybrid powertrain that mates a low-voltage belt-starter generator to a mostly carryover 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four. The updated engine produces an additional 13 horsepower (10 kilowatts) relative to 2020, for a total of 261 hp (195 kW) – torque remains constant at 273 pound-feet (370 newton-meters). The mild-hybrid powertrain recaptures energy on coasting and braking to recharge the 12-volt battery, but unlike the 48-volt mild-hybrid setup on the larger Q7, it doesn’t reduce turbo lag or power advanced suspension systems.
Those who desire even greater electrification can opt for the plug-in hybrid Audi Q5. An electric motor sits between the 2.0-liter turbo four and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, powered by a 14.1-kilowatt-hour battery. Total power output is 362 hp and 369 lb-ft (270 kW and 500 Nm), which is up 13 hp (10 kW) from the mighty 2021 SQ5. Like the current SUV, expect about 20 miles of all-electric range from the plug-in Q5. S-line styling is standard on the PHEV, with an available Sport Plus package that brings adaptive dampers, air suspension, and Dinamica suede interior accents.
The SQ5 boasts mostly carryover specifications, including 349 hp and 369 lb-ft (260 kW and 500 Nm) from its turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. As on the less expressive Q5 models, the SQ5 comes standard with Quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Adaptive dampers come with the trim level, while a height-adjustable air suspension is optional. The SQ5 also gets the aforementioned OLED taillights standard.
For some reason, many luxury automakers are been content to make some active safety features optional, but the Audi Q5 won’t be counted among them. Lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, and blind spot monitoring are now standard on the base Premium trim, while Premium Plus and Prestige models get adaptive cruise control, active lane keeping, and a top-view camera system. These features join the already-standard Audi Pre Sense City suite, which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
Every 2021 Q5 will also come standard with the company’s latest infotainment package called MIB 3 (shared with most other new Audi products), displayed on a new 10.1-inch touchscreen. MIB 3 boasts 10 times as much processing power as its predecessor, and it now offers cloud-based vehicle customization – if you get into another Audi with MIB 3, you can download your vehicle preferences by logging into the infotainment system. Audi has done away with its rotary controller for the Multimedia Interface, instead relying on the larger touchscreen for inputs.
The all-digital Audi Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster comes standard on Premium Plus and Prestige models, and wireless Apple CarPlay is also included on all trims. A slightly revised interior contains those new features – like the 2020 Q5, the 2021 gets standard walnut inlays and leather seating, though the new model boasts contrast stitching and a few piano black accents.
The 2021 Audi Q5 will start at $43,300 in its most basic form, priced identically to its predecessor in spite of more technology and standard equipment. The plug-in hybrid will demand $51,900, which is actually $1,000 cheaper than the 2020 PHEV. The 2021 SQ5 will ask $52,900 of its new owner, the same as 2020.
Each member of the 2021 Q5 family will hit the U.S. market in the fourth quarter of 2020, meaning we’ll have to wait until at least October to drive one. With a few thoughtful updates and surprisingly aggressive pricing, the popular Audi SUV should do well for the company’s bottom line too.