With Audi pledging to launch only EVs from 2026, it means each new generation of a model coming out within the next four years will be the last to have combustion engines. Such is the case of the Q5, which is expected to transition to the third-gen model at some point in 2023. Until then, a lot of testing needs to be covered, and our spies recently stumbled upon a seemingly troubled prototype at work in the Austrian Alps.
It seemed to have the production body, but those are definitely not the final taillights. The camouflage must be playing tricks on us because the front design doesn't look like an Audi at all. Looking at the exposed areas, we notice the large vertical bits of plastic that might tempt you into believing they're air intakes, but they don't serve a functional role aside from hosting the parking sensors.
Moving at the back, the wraparound tailgate of the first two generations seems to be gone as the hatch no longer fully integrates the taillights. The tailgate is still plenty wide, but the familiar design trait appears to have been dropped for a more traditional look. Those provisional taillights are seemingly connected through a light bar hiding under camo, but with its extremities exposed to show the reverse lights.
The prototype had a dual exhaust arrangement and it sounded quite sporty, so it definitely had a gasoline engine under the hood. That said, Audi will still sell the Q5 with diesels in European markets where oil-burners are still popular.
Something must've gone wrong in the testing process because the last part of the video shows the new Q5 being towed by a current-generation Q7. We can see the camouflaged prototype barely moving before coming to a full stop on the right side of the road. Its bigger brother comes to its rescue and hauls it away to Audi's nearest facility, with both SUVs flashing their hazard lights.
Prototypes break down all the time and it's literally one of the main reasons automakers test their vehicles before kicking off series production – to iron out any kinks ahead of shipping vehicles to customers.
Ingolstadt's best-selling car will be offered with a mix of Euro 7-certified gasoline and diesel engines, plus a plug-in hybrid powertrain. A purely electric derivative isn't happening since the upcoming PPE-based Q6 E-Tron / Q6 E-Tron Sportback twinned with the Porsche Macan EV will fulfill that role in Audi's vast lineup.