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Audi's Q5 is the latest SUV to join the plug-in hybrid party.
19in alloy wheels, LED headlights with LED rear lights and dynamic rear indicators, privacy glass, S Line bodywork, heated sport seats with leather/alcantara upholstery, Audi connect services, MMI Navigation, MMI Radio Plus with 7in colour MMI screen and Audi Smartphone Interface
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With BIK tax rates for cars capable of emitting less than 50g/km of CO2 set to drop from an already low 16% to no more than 14%, it is no surprise that we are seeing more interest in plug-in hybrid models from fleets.
Audi has managed to date with a plug-in hybrid A3, but plans to introduce a number of larger PHEVs in the coming months.
The Q5 55 TFSI E is the first of this new generation to arrive, and although it looks pretty normal from the outside, it hides tech that will appeal to company car drivers' wallets.
Power and economy
Priced from around £55,000, the plug-in Q5 pairs a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a 105kW electric motor and a 14.1kW battery positioned under the boot floor, giving a total maximum power output of 362hp - resulting in a 0-62mph sprint in 5.3 seconds and a top speed of 148mph.
More importantly, you are looking at 113mpg and around 26 miles of electric running, both of which are instrumental in the Q5's official CO2 emissions of just 49g/km and official fuel economy figures. That electric range is only really good for short commutes, of course. Once the battery was flat we managed around 34mpg on average - not too bad for a large SUV with a petrol engine.
While 26 miles of battery life isn't exactly mind-blowing, the Q5 hybrid does have some cool technology, such as the 'predictive efficiency assistant', which is able to adjust the level of recuperation based on GPS and radar information. Like other conventional Audis, it also tells the driver when to lift off the throttle -for maximum efficiency - before lower speed limits, junctions, roundabouts, traffic build-ups, hills, and so on. This is most definitely a far smarter way to drive a hybrid; why drain the battery on the highway, where it is not needed? It also allows you to rely solely on electric in town, where the motor has the range and the power to drive the Q5 on its own.
Eye on efficiency
On the inside you won't be greeted with a forest of leaf-shaped pop-ups reminding you when you are being green, but what you do get is Audi's digital, driver-configurable instrument cluster, which joins the Q5's list of standard features after getting a degree in hybridisation. The efficiency gauge shows the driver how much electricity is at their disposal at any given moment, and it cleverly takes speed limit information into account.
When plugged into a conventional household mains socket, the battery can be completely recharged in around six hours. Standard kit for the Q5 PHEV includes 20in alloy wheels, a full S Line body kit, LED headlights, three-zone automatic climate control, a digital instrument cluster, an 8.3in infotainment system and a pair of electrically adjustable, heated sports seats with massage function. The rear seats also offer both longitudinal and rake adjustment.
Just like the normal Q5, the rear seats fold 40/20/40 and can be reclined or slid to maximise legroom or boot space. Speaking of the boot, this has been reduced by 95 litres due to the battery installed under the floor.
Carry that weight
As for the driving experience, it isn't a normal SUV that just happens to run on electricity, like the E-Tron. No, the Q5 TFSI E drives, looks and feels like a regular luxury SUV with a hybrid party trick.
After the briefest pause as you summon power, it feels as quick as that 0-62mph figure suggests.
But don't be fooled into thinking its high power makes the Q5 plug-in a sporty SUV. You can almost feel the weight of the battery in twists and turns, meaning the normal Q5 agility is hindered.
Ultimately, this car is a good choice if you are in the market for a petrol-electric model that doesn't behave like one. Although its price is quite hefty, for a company car user the hybrid could make sense. Just remember that good old diesel will be more efficient on long trips and require no charging. You will get a bigger boot, too.