By Peter Perrotta
Since the Olympics are currently front and center, it’s plain to see that having to face stiff competition usually makes the individual perform better.
Much the same can be said in the world of automotive manufacturing.
If your competition in a particular segment is stiff, it will, almost always, force each manufacturer to keep a keen eye on remaining sharp in its product offering.
Nothing is quite as competitive as the import segment of the compact SUV or crossover models on the market today.
With most of the manufacturers catering to the truck and SUV segment – over the sedans – the compact SUV field becomes even more important as it quite often is seen as the entry point for most SUV buyers.
When it comes to the German importers in this segment – known for their high quality offerings here – it is even more competitive. BMW’s X3 and Mercedes’ GLC are considered top of the line contenders here.
However, Audi, the “other” German importer offers up the Q5 to compete with the X3 and GLC. The Q5 is Audi’s best selling model and for 2021 it delivers a refreshed looking all wheel drive Q5.
I recently jumped behind the wheel of the 2021 Audi Q5 45 TFSI quattro for one week to see how the new look Q5 stacks up.
First off, I must admit, that when it comes to the German import cars, I was never a huge fan of the Audi line. In years past, I always felt that Audi offered a quality product.
However, I was not a big fan of its interior designs, instrument cluster and operational functions.
But, it had been a while since I reviewed an Audi, so I went into it with an open mind.
The 2021 Q5 I drove pleasantly surprised me. The updated front and rear fascia design gives it a bold new look. The new LED head and tail lights work for me as well.
However, I was most impressed with the interior ergonomics. Audi has streamlined its dash and cluster configurations and made its button and switch operations a whole lot more sensible and easy to use.
All of the Q5 models come standard with Audi’s trademark Quattro AWD system. The standard Q5 – which is what I drove – is badged 45 TFSI. Under the hood is a 2.0 liter turbo, four cylinder engine that is paired with a seven speed, dual clutch automatic transmission.
The 2021 version of this engine adds a mild hybrid electrical system that gives it a 13 horsepower increase output to 261 horsepower. It accelerates from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds.
Overall, I was quite impressed with a lot of what the new look Q5 offers. The exterior refresh works for me. Inside, it has a nice quality and luxurious feel to it.
The drive of the Q5 is solid all around. It’s comfortable and roomy and performs well under all kinds of driving situations.
This Q5, however, drives and feels more like an American or Japanese made crossover than a German import where you feel the tires grip the road under your seat.
The 2021 version of the Q5 drives with a more floaty and cushy feel to it than either the X3 or GLC. It offers a cross between the traditional European import feel and the softer American or Japanese drives.
In that regard, this Q5 may be just what the doctor ordered for those who don’t like the hard edge of the traditional German imports or the softness of the American or Japanese offerings. It gives an “in between” option.
The 2021 Audi Q5 45 TFSI Quattro I drove for a week carries a base sticker price of $43,300. However, after adding in options and destination and delivery, the bottom line sticker price is $53,040.
Options included: $4,800 for the premium plus package; $1,500 for the navigation package; $950 for the Bang and Olufsen 3D sound system; $800 for 20-inch wheels and $595 for the Manhattan Gray metallic paint.
If you are an audiophile, you will find the upgraded Bang and Olufsen system a joy to listen to. The 10.1-inch touch screen infotainment system is fairly easy to learn and functions quite nicely.
Some of the items included in the premium plus package include: panoramic roof; heated steering wheel; adaptive cruise control and active lane assist.
The EPA fuel consumption ratings for this vehicle come in at 25 miles per gallon overall – 28 mpg for highway driving and 23 mpg in city traffic.
The EPA estimates that it will cost on average about $1,950 per year for fuel under average driving conditions as it uses 4 gallons of gas per every 100 miles you drive it.
On the government’s five-star crash test the Audi Q5 performed well, garnering a five star overall rating. It got five stars on the front and side crash tests and four stars on the rollover test.
The editors at Motor Trend give the Audi Q5 high marks for its “refreshed exterior styling,” increased horsepower and tech features.
Motor Trend gives it low marks for having a smallish cargo area and a detached driving experience.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. He can be contacted at email@example.com for questions or comments.