The Audi Q5 facelift features some changes that make it appear fresh and up-to-date. But are these changes enough to shake up the mid-size SUV space?
March 2020 would go down in history as the month that marked the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, sending tremors of panic across the entire world. What the world witnessed was more or less unprecedented. From the 2020 Summer Games to Auto Shows across the globe, pretty much every event was either cancelled or postponed. And, of course, the economic impact of the pandemic forced brands to revisit their strategies and make drastic amendments. Take Audi For instance – the German brand had to delay several of its new car launches to a time when the market would become a little more receptive. Thankfully for Audi, 2021 brought with it a breeze of fresh opportunities – the Ingolstadt-based brand has launched eight new products so far. And now, Audi is gearing up for the ninth one for the Indian market. Say hello to the refreshed 2021 Audi Q5.
The facelifted Q5 gets a revised front-end with a larger octagonal grille. Audi has only brought in the Sport variant of the Q5 to the Indian market, which gets brushed aluminium surrounds for the grille and fog lamps. While all this gives the refreshed Q5 a wide stance and a sophisticated look, I think that the honeycomb grille from the more expensive models would have been a better choice.
Audi has also revised the front bumper, which now looks sharper than before, and the headlights have been reprofiled. The Q5 will get LED lighting as standard, and unlike the international models, Audi will not offer Matrix LEDs as an option in India. In profile, it doesn’t feature many changes – well, it’s a facelift after all! But the 2021 Q5 does get new silver side skirts and new 19-inch alloy wheels. At the back, the taillights, rear bumper, and diffuser have all been reworked.
Internationally, Audi also offers OLED taillights, but it’s not available in the India-spec model as of now. All in all, the changes are minimal but they do a good job of ensuring that the Q5 doesn’t look dated.
The interior of the facelifted model looks more or less familiar too. In fact, the overall layout of the dash is identical to the pre-facelift model. The 2021 Q5 does, however, has some gloss black elements on the dash and centre console and a larger 10.1-inch infotainment display with the new version of the MMI logic. The display has a neat layout and is user-friendly, but the touch responsiveness could have been better. Audi has done well to retain physical controls for the AC, drive select system, traction control, etc. Our test Q5 had sportier-looking tan interior upholstery, but Audi will also offer beige upholstery as an option.
There isn’t much that is new in and around the rear bench, but the Q5 continues to be comfortable even for rear-seat passengers. The legroom and knee room are sufficient, but still, it’s not a place for three adults. And while the Q5 features three-zone climate control and sun blinds, it misses out on USB ports for rear-seat occupants.
The 2021 Q5 now has a longer feature list than before, which also includes the myAudi Connect system as standard. Other features include a reversing camera, park assist, electrically adjustable front seats, a panoramic sunroof, electric tailgate, the Audi virtual cockpit, and a 19 speaker 755W B&O system. In terms of safety, the car includes eight airbags, traction control, hill hold, and more.
Heart and joy
Behind the fancy new face, the Q5 continues to have the same 2.0-litre turbo petrol workhorse. In fact, at 249bhp and 370Nm, the power and torque figures are identical too. And just like the pre-facelift model, the 2021 Q5, too, exhibits a slight hesitation from a standstill. But once you rev past the 2,000rpm mark and the turbo kicks in, the progress is rather quick and, in signature turbo motor style, the surge from there on is exciting. A healthy dose of torque is very evenly spread until beyond the 4,000rpm mark, which makes it super fun to drive. And even when you are driving with a heavy foot, the motor doesn't quite feel out of its comfort zone. There's a certain sophistication and calmness to the way the power is delivered throughout its rev range, which is extremely satisfying.
Just like before, this engine comes paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch unit. The transmission, for the most part, does its job superbly. The upshifts are super smooth, and the downshifts are reasonably quick. The gearbox, however, doesn't feel as seamless as the torque converter in the larger Q7 – it tends to feel a bit jerky, especially at lower speeds.
The Q5’s adaptive dampers work like magic and endow the mid-size SUV with an incredible ride-handling balance. And with the Audi drive select system, you can alter the Q5’s character according to your preference. Switching between different drive modes does alter the heft of the steering wheel, but it does feel a bit artificial and lacks sufficient feedback.
While driving it on the hilly road of Lonavla, the Q5 felt surefooted, and the quattro all-wheel-drive system ensured sufficient grip at all times. The overall proportions and somewhat tall height of the car do result in some body roll, but it doesn’t feel nervous by any means. And while the handling is predictable, the car rides equally well on bad roads, but you do need to watch out for those large and sharp potholes. During our short drive, we found the brakes to be progressive, but I felt that they could do with a bit more bite.
So close, yet so far
With the cosmetic update, the 2021 Q5 looks reasonably fresh. Now, it’s true that we would have preferred the S line or a higher variant sold internationally, but there is still hope, for Audi says it will bring it in at a later date. The interior of the facelifted model feels up to the mark and comfortable, and the feature list has also increased. Above all, the 2.0-litre motor is sufficiently punchy, and the ride-handling balance is brilliant.
While the 2021 Q5 does almost everything right, it lacks that something extra, that oomph factor, which could have made it a disruptive force in the segment. The Q5, then, isn’t a fancy salted caramel or an ice-cream cake but a good old black forest for those who still have a taste for it.
- 2021 Audi Q5
Engine: 1,984cc / 4-Cylinder / 16-Valve / Turbocharged
Transmission: 7-Speed Automatic / All-Wheel Drive
Power: 248bhp @ 5,000 – 6,000rpm
Torque: 370Nm @ 1,600 – 4,500rpm
X-Factor: From comfort to fun-factor, the 2021 Q5 is hard to fault in almost every department.