Look closely at the 2013 Audi Q5. The exterior changes from the 2012 model are subtle, but under the hood, some big changes are coming, especially for the U.S.-spec model.
Overall dimensions remain nearly identical to the 2012 model, with the same 182.2-inch overall length. The 2013 model is slightly lower and wider, according to official figures. Audi's new hexagonal grille is the most noteworthy Q5 exterior tweak, with the upper right corners cropped slightly, compared to the 2012's quadrangular grille opening.
But of greatest interest, especially to U.S. customers, is what's behind it. One of the last vehicles in Audi's lineup to still utilize the naturally aspirated 3.2-liter V-6, that engine is replaced by the 272 hp supercharged TFSI V-6 used in the larger Q7, as well as many of Audi's other models. In this application, the engine produces 295 lb-ft of torque, and is mated exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The familiar and popular 2.0T four-cylinder turbo returns for 2013, this time with 225 hp (up 14) and the same 258 lb-ft as last year. Available with a six-speed manual in Europe, the sole transmission choice for the U.S. will likely remain the eight-speed automatic.
European buyers get the choice of three diesel options, two 2.0-liter TDI options producing 143 hp/236 lb-ft and 177 hp/280 lb-ft respectively. The U.S. market will get neither. But don't feel too bad, we will get the most powerful TDI option, the 3.0-liter V-6 TDI producing a substantial 245 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. This torquey mill comes exclusively with a seven-speed S tronic transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive. This combination achieves the equivalent of 36.75 mpg in European testing. Although the European fuel economy tests are not the same as the EPA tests, for comparison, the supercharged 3.0-liter gas V-6 gets 27.67 mpg in the same test.
One of the reasons the U.S. market won't be getting the smaller diesel is because of the new hybrid model, which pairs the 2.0-liter direct-injection gas turbo engine with an eight-speed transmission. The combined system output is 245 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. Despite all the hybrid's techno-wizardry, the four-cylinder TDI still achieves better economy, and Audi did not want to have the 2.0 TDI overshadowing the hybrid in U.S. showrooms.
Unlike most hybrid models, the Q5 Hybrid does not employ a CVT, but has a conventional eight-speed transmission, but with an electric motor taking the place of the torque converter, an arrangement similar to that used in the Hyundai Sonata hybrid. Sandwiched between the engine and the electric motor is a multi-plate clutch with engages and disengages the engine from the rest of the drivetrain as driving conditions warrant. Energy storage is handled by a lithium-ion battery, and the driver can select from three different driving modes. EV mode prioritizes electric propulsion, the normal D mode balances electric and gas propulsion for optimal responsiveness and efficiency, and the S mode makes the transmission more responsive to driver inputs. The hybrid model can be distinguished by its turbine-style 10-spoke wheels, in standard 19-inch and optional 20-inch size.
Updates to the interior consist of trim and finish changes, plus revisions to Audi's MMI system, which now features four buttons and a volume skip function to enhance functionality. Three new interior colors, fabric and leather choices give buyers up to 35 different interior combinations. New for 2013 is adaptive radar-based cruise control, and active lane assist. The 2013 Q5 also offers an integrated WLAN hotspot feature when equipped with the MMI Navigation Plus package, which includes Google Point of Interest search, Google Earth images and Google Street View. Finally, for the tech aficionados, the Audi music stream app allows drivers to stream more than 5000 internet radio stations.
The 2013 Audi Q5 is scheduled to go on sale later this summer.