Solar Valley, Aspen, Butte, or Bozeman: The locations within the West that may sound acquainted as ski locations or summer season mountain getaways are more and more the “Zoom cities” that weekend-warrior tech sorts—youthful professionals who reside for fast dashes as much as the slopes, cliffs, or trails—are calling house. 

Whereas larger West Coast tech hubs like San Francisco and Portland have carved out the encircling charging infrastructure for totally electrical autos, the 2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid—recognized within the U.S. because the Q5 e 55, or the Q5 55 TFSI e—is strictly the sort of automobile that matches sustainable-tech sensibilities and works for the Zoom city way of life.

Plug-in hybrids are at their finest when it looks like a number of propulsion applied sciences are enabling a greater automobile, somewhat than simply hampering one another with complexity; and with a while driving the Q5 plug-in hybrid earlier this month, I can say that’s for probably the most half what this model of the bestselling Q5 delivers. At current, Audi is the one one of many German automakers—exterior of its VW Group cousin, Porsche—that’s making a real effort to determine a transparent connection within the interface between its plug-in hybrids and its totally electrical fashions. 

Charged up

Give the Q5 a full cost in a single day, and while you enter the automobile and switch it on, an EV mode button on the middle stack illuminates. That’s the default mode with a cost and also you don’t must go looking by means of modes to maintain the gasoline engine probably the most at bay. With the EV button, you may as well choose a hybrid mode, or go for battery maintain mode, in order to avoid wasting the cost you could have for a quiet city-center drive. 

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

Though you’ll be able to’t lock the fuel engine out fully—one thing you are able to do in, for insurance coverage, the Toyota RAV4 Prime—the arc of a sweeping energy gauge marks off the 0-60% zone, with resistance from the accelerator making it simple to remain electrical. Swap over to the Dynamic mode, and it nonetheless stays electrical, however the transition lowers to 40%. 

The Effectivity mode that was selectable within the European-spec mannequin we drove greater than a yr in the past was nowhere to be discovered on this U.S.-spec mannequin—changed by Offroad, and with the identical different 4 modes: Consolation, Auto, Dynamic, and Particular person. 

Usually talking, whether or not in EV mode or with the gasoline engine operating, the Q5 plug-in hybrid likes to coast. Choose the Sport mode with the shift lever and abruptly there’s extra regen, together with a extra aggressive shift sample as soon as the engine begins. 

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

I had the Q5 plug-in hybrid for a couple of day and a half and coated a bit greater than 160 miles. Partly, I get a deal with on the usefulness of its all-electric driving, which I obtained solely a small pattern of on a preview drive on German roads last year. So I drove by means of two electrical expenses regionally—very similar to a commuter would possibly do—after which took the Q5 PHEV on a 115-mile loop out of city and as much as the mountain—actually up the facet of Mt. Hood to the location of ski slopes—and again down. Now if solely I’d had the time for some Nordic snowboarding. 

True to its 19-mile ranking

So after giving the 14.1-kwh battery pack of this multitasker an preliminary full 240V cost of simply over two hours (Audi says 2.4 hours, however my automotive took lower than that), I set out with an anticipated 21 miles, with an out of doors temp of 42 levels, leaving the local weather management on (42 levels out) and driving solely in its default modes. The primary commute-style route took me about 8 miles on the freeway at roughly 65 mph, then on a 50-mph street with occasional stoplights for about one other 8 miles. I continued driving on a 30-mph street with extra frequent stoplights till the Q5 PHEV kicked over to hybrid mode. 

The prediction was startlingly correct, at 20.8 miles all-electric. A second loop concerned extra stop-and-go, on a road that strikes at 35-40 mph, adopted by rolling nation roads at 45 to 55 mph. There, I coated 19.9 miles earlier than it began up the engine. Each outcomes primarily verify the EPA-rated 19 miles of vary.

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

The Q5 plug-in hybrid is fast sufficient however not downright perky while you’re staying in electrical mode. So after that restraint, I took off to have a bit of extra enjoyable. 

Startlingly vivid for a utility automobile

I switched the mode over to Dynamic and the shifter to Sport, and the 141-hp electrical motor and a pair of.0-liter turbo-4 work in live performance, collectively producing 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, smoothing out shifts of the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and enabling acceleration that continues even throughout shifts. The steering is startlingly vivid for a utility automobile, and also you sit low sufficient within the Q5 to really feel near the middle of mass. It builds confidence, and I discovered the system answering to that, with a graceful-feeling slide of its 4,600 kilos round a hairpin nook, aided by the texture of simply sufficient energy despatched to the rear wheels.

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

The Q5 PHEV has the “Extremely” model of quattro—that means that it disconnects the rear wheels throughout many forms of steady-state driving, for effectivity, however can reconnect the rear wheels and ship extra torque to them in only a fraction of a second.

In an empty however snow-packed car parking zone up on the mountain—one other 2020 anomaly—I verified, in Dynamic and Offroad modes, that the system does certainly have a variety of obtainable traction and that it’s well-controlled enjoyable.

The one gripe, as I headed again into Portland site visitors—aside from handing again the keys so quickly—was that when you’re again in one of many Q5’s coast-happy modes however with the engine operating, as a hybrid, the brake pedal tends to dial in an inconsistent quantity of recuperation. As you decelerate to a cease you are feeling (and barely hear) the transmission downshift simply because the brake enhance modifications.

All of the space-efficient fundamentals, with wonderful seats

Site visitors trudgery was additionally a trigger to go searching the automobile a bit. This can be a spacious, uber-efficient bundle, luxuriously laid-out, with area for adults in again and wonderful, supportive entrance seats. Fold down the again seat and there’s no scarcity of room for vacation big-box purchases—curbside pickup, in fact. 

The site visitors mild timer constructed into the sprint performs an ideal position in effectivity—and most however not all lights alongside my path again have been within the system.

Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

The journey whole for 92 miles in hybrid mode—together with some very brisk mountain-road driving—ended up being about 27 mpg. That quantity was additionally proper in step with the EPA ranking. 

Audi’s MMI Contact within the Q5 now has a ten.1-inch middle display, sitting excessive within the line of sight, with wi-fi help for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An intensive checklist of lively security gadgets contains an adaptive cruise management system that may, with navigation information, modify its habits primarily based on the terrain and map information. 

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

The Status mannequin, which is what I had in Daytona Grey pearl paint, provides $9,800 to the bottom value and provides a Bang & Olufsen sound, quieter dual-pane glass for the entrance facet home windows, a heated/cooled cupholder, driver’s seat reminiscence settings, prolonged satellite-radio channels, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, a power-adjustable steering column, extra inside lighting, and a navigation system—for a grand whole of $63,390. 

A candy spot for effectivity and efficiency in a luxurious mannequin?

Merely put, the plug-in hybrid is the Q5 to get when you worth a candy spot between effectivity and efficiency. Its 0-60 mph time of 5.0 seconds makes it practically as fast because the high-performance SQ5; it has an enormous effectivity and environmental benefit when you plan to plug in every day for the commute; and it’s possible you’ll be eligible for a federal EV tax credit score of $6,712 plus different incentives. With a base value of $53,895 for the PHEV, that may decrease its efficient value to about $47,000. 

The opposite factor to notice is that the Q5 plug-in hybrid isn’t going to fly over among the nation. I counted a number of PHEVs listed as certain for seller stock in quite a few Center America places. 

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid

I’ve conveniently tip-toed round a few issues. One in all them is that the Q5 plug-in hybrid does save its extra thrilling persona for when the gasoline engine is on. The opposite is that there *are* quick chargers up on Mt. Hood, and my entire driving loop—as with most you’ll probably learn on this mannequin—may have been achieved within the E-Tron SUV or Sportback, or the upcoming Q4 E-Tron. And inside just a few years charging infrastructure and longer driving vary will permit EVs entry to extra slopes past extra EV-savvy states like Oregon and Colorado to Utah and Montana—to most if not all recreation locations. 

Simply as plug-in hybrids are a transition to one thing else, they may be Zoom cities, however not for lengthy.