The new Audi Q5 2023 sticks to the power of petrol and diesel

One of Audi’s powerful SUVs is due to be replaced next year, for the last time before the brand’s European sales become fully electric in 2030. It’s the new Audi Q5 – the German company’s rival to the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLE. The mid-size SUV will enter its third generation in 2023, and it has been spied deeply in its development program.

While the Q7’s biggest introduction in 2006 fired the starting gun on what became the broad and controversial Audi SUV range we have today, the Q5 remains the cornerstone of the brand’s success in the SUV market. Globally, there is not a single Audi panel that sells in larger sizes, with nearly 300,000 deliveries worldwide in 2021 making it not only the German manufacturer’s most popular Q-badged model, but also its biggest seller.

It is difficult, therefore, to overstate the importance of this model. This is not a vehicle designed with a specific market in mind. It should be popular in Europe, China and North America – almost anywhere in the world the brand operates.

Perhaps that explains why the current spy shots refer to an evolutionary design language for the Q5, rather than a comprehensive rethink. Our photos of development models reveal a car that still stands around a large octagonal grille flanked by slim headlights, but whose nose appears longer and more squared, for a tougher look. The stronger shoulders will be complemented by a rear end that features a full-width LED light bar in place of the current model’s split tail lights.

The next Q5 doesn’t look very different in size from the current generation car, with a similar wheelbase as well as front and rear axles. Our exclusive photos preview the regular version of the Q5, but the Coupe-shaped Sportback looks like a potential bet as well, given that Audi only introduced that body shape to the current-generation Q5 last year. Sportback styles appear to be exempt from reduced complexity in the brand’s range of combustion-engined cars, as announced in 2019.

Inside, in contrast to the evolutionary exterior, a next-generation cabin design with an all-new infotainment system and power switches is possible. Audi has never been a manufacturer that has stood firm from generation to generation when it comes to its cabin structures.

The brand has already electrified the Q5 panel with the arrival of the MEB-based Q5 e-tron in China, but this model is unlikely to come to Europe. Indeed, according to Audi’s electrification strategy in Europe, there will be no next generation Q5 EV. Instead, the new car will remain on a combustion engine-powered platform, with the brand’s existing MLB architecture evolving used in the next model. However, we can expect major upgrades for the platform, as it will host a final generation of models with combustion engines for Europe, which technical director Oliver Hoffmann described for Auto Express as “the best” Audi has ever launched.

At the time, Hoffmann was laying out the technical basis for the next generation A4 for us – a car also due in 2023 on the updated MLB architecture. Central to the presentation of the new platform is an updated version of the Volkswagen Group’s EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged petrol engine, with 48V mild-hybrid technology and revised turbo systems.

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Light hybrid technology isn’t new to the Q5; It was introduced as part of a facelift in 2020. However, the powerful SQ5 diesel aside, which uses the 48-volt system, regular MHEV versions of the current Q5 feature a less advanced 12-volt setup. 48V technology will expand the vehicle’s capabilities with engine shutdown and electric boosting from fleeting moments to being a major part of the driving experience, improving performance and fuel economy.

Diesel power is still common in the Q5, and an updated 2.0-liter TDI option – also with a new development of the 48-volt technology available on the current model – will arrive as part of the offer. We can expect the SQ5 to continue for another generation as well, as it also embraces 48-volt technology but is allied to the 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, likely developing more than 350 horsepower.

Electrification will play a major role in the next-generation car as well, but beyond the extended mild hybrid offering, plug-in hybrid technology will extend as far as the Q5.

The current 50 TFSI e quattro already weighs in with a 17.9 kWh battery, allowing up to 37 miles of electricity to run. It is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo gasoline engine and an electric drive system with a total output of 295 hp and a CO2 of 35 g/km. Once again, we expect incremental improvements to this system for the new generation car.

The Q5 will not be fully electric for this region until the brand’s entire European portfolio becomes all-electric. However, Audi will introduce a fully electric car in the Q5 segment, soon after the combustion car goes on sale. The Q6 e-tron is expected to arrive in 2024, in a similar status and price, but using a PPE platform for electric vehicles. It will share this technical foundation with the upcoming A6 e-tron saloon, as well as Porsche’s next-generation Macan.

Although Audi has already talked a lot about the Q6 e-tron, the Q5 – which brand managers haven’t touched yet – will come first. We understand that a reveal next year with sales also starting in 2023 is targeted, but most likely towards the end of next year. As such, the Q5 won’t debut for about 18 months. Prices should be slightly more than the car’s current price of £46,000 due to the new additional technology of the Q5.

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