This buying guide shows features explained, things that you won't find mentioned on the manufacturer's website, gives a review and comparison, and FAQ.  Feel free to join our 2011 Audi Q5 hybrid forum as well.

2011 2012 audi q5 hybridThe 2011 Audi Q5 hybrid is Audi's first modern hybrid.  Among the highlights are the lithium ion battery, turbocharged 2.0L engine with hybrid module, and 8 speed automatic transmission.  The Q5 has been around since 2009 and is based off the A5 but the hybrid is all new for 2011 and should stay relatively unchanged for 2012.

Why buy the Audi Q5 hybrid?  Here is an overview and my quick review:

First, if you want a hybrid with quattro you have to get the Q5.  The 2012 Audi A6 hybrid is only available in front wheel drive (FWD).

Second, it's an Audi and not a Prius.  One of the highlights of the Prius is that it's instantly identifiable as a hybrid.  Some people like that and some people don't.  The first thing you'll notice is that the Q5 hybrid looks almost identical to the gas Q5.  

It also shares another Audi highlight, class leading interiors.  You will never get the same fuel economy as a Prius (if this is the first priority, why even look at a SUV) but the performance is much better.  The car uses a slightly modified Audi TFSI engine, a 2.0L turbocharged direct injection engine shared across many models, with the hybrid module between the engine and transmission.  Total power output is 245 hp and 354 lb-ft.  That's more torque than many gas V8 engines!  

Clearly Audi has taken a different track with this product.  0-62 mph is 7.1 seconds which is really quite fast.  That's about the same performance as the Lexus 450h even though the Lexus has a 3.5L V6 engine and 295 hp.  The Lexus 450h costs $44k, fuel economy rating of 30/28 city/hwy, and a curb weight of 4,650 lbs.  The Audi Q5 hybrid will be about 41k, have a fuel economy of about 33 mpg, and weigh about 4400 lbs.  Below is a closer comparison vs. the 2.0T engine Q5 and the Lexus 450h.

audi q5 hybrid sizeSpec comparison between the 2011 Audi Q5 hybrid quattro vs. Audi 2.0T vs. Lexus 450h

One major difference between these systems that isn't readily apparent in the specs is that the Lexus 450h hybrid system drives only the front wheels.  This is why it's available in front wheel drive.  The rear wheels on the AWD Lexus are powered by separate electric assist motors and somewhat limits the tow capacity even when equipped with the tow pack.  The Audi Q5 hybrid system is in the transmission and drives all four wheels 40/60 front/rear and is only available with quattro.  

Places where the Q5 2.0T and hybrid are the same are dashed.  To the right is a thumbnail image of the Q5 dimensions, click to enlarge and open in a new window.

Audi Q5 2.0T gas Audi Q5 hybrid Lexus 400h (FWD,AWD)
base price $35,200 ? $43,235,44,825
Engine hp/torque (lb-ft) 2.0L turbo 211/258 - 3.5L 245/?
hybrid motor hp/torque N/A 45/155 ?
system peak hp/torque N/A 245/354 295/?
electric only max speed N/A 62 mph around 25 mph
electric only range N/A 1.86 mi @37mph about 1.5 miles
0-60 7.1 - 7.4,7.8
US fuel economy cty/hwy 20/27 combined 33 est? 32/28,30/28
tank size (US gal) 19.8 - 17.2
transmission 8 speed auto - CVT
curb weight (lbs) 4090 4380 (est) 4520,4652
coefficient drag .33 - .33
length in. (mm) 182 (4629) - 187.8 (4770)
height in. (mm) 65 (1653) - 66.3 (1685)
width in. (mm) 82 (2089) (inc. mirrors) - 74.2 (1885)
ground clearance in. (mm) 7.9 (200) ? 6.9 (175)
trunk volume (cu ft) 29.1 ? 40
interior volume front 53.9 - ?
interior volume rear 57.3 ? ?
front rotors in. (mm) 12.6 (320) ? 12.9 (327)
rear rotors in. (mm) 11.8 (300) ? 12.2 (310)
max tow lbs (kg) 4400 (2000) 4409 (2000) NA on FWD,AWD: 3500 (1588) w/optional tow pack
tongue weight (lbs) 440 440 ?

Differences between 2.0T Audi Q5 and the hybrid

Other than the obvious things like the engine/drivetrain, the hybrid also has some unique trim.  It comes with the S-line front bumper/grille which adds vertical chrome bars on the otherwise black front grille and honeycomb foglight grilles w/chrome rings around the foglights.
audi q5 s-line bumper

You also get S-line side skirts (the trim below the doors) and a unique rear bumper.  The 19" wheels are also unique to the hybrid.
audi q5 hybrid

The instrument cluster is also unique and different from regular cars.  Instead of coolant temperature it has battery charge.  Instead of a tachometer, it has a hybrid drive meter which goes from charge when decelerating, efficiency when you're driving lightly, and boost for when the engine and electric motor are at full power.  When the car is off (not ready) the drive meter points down.
audi q5 hybrid instrument cluster gauges

Features of the 2011 Audi Q5 hybrid explained 

Here's a quick video showing a preview about the car and interview with the designers.

Hybrid engine/powertrain: As listed in the specs chart, the Q5 hybrid combines the 211 hp, 258 lb-ft torque 2.0L TSFI turbocharged engine with a 45 hp, 155 lb-ft electric hybrid module and eight speed auto transmission.  Peak combined power is 245 hp and 354 lb-ft.

The hybrid drivetrain has a few basic modes described above that were also shown in the video:

-Start/stop: This shuts down the 2.0T gasoline engine at stoplights.  Depending on the amount of power requested, the engine may not run after you start moving again.

-Boost mode: If you required more acceleration than the electric motor can provide, the gasoline engine will start and provide additional power.  As mentioned earlier, peak power is 245 hp and 354 lb-ft.

-Electric only mode: this allows driving on electric power up to 62 mph!  However, range in this mode is greatly shortened.  At 37 mph, range in EV mode is 1.86 miles.  The gasoline engine does not run at all during this state of operation and is de-clutched from the hybrid module for less power losses.  This mode of operation is most beneficial to increasing mpg for city and stop and go driving.

-Battery regeneration: when you press the brake pedal, the electric motor becomes a DC generator and charges the hybrid battery.  The engine may also charge the battery.

There are some small differences on the hybrid's engine vs. the gasoline car's engine.  The gas car's hydraulic power steering is normally driven by a belt off the engine.  The hybrid's power steering pump is electric driven to keep power steering when the engine is off.  The engine is also tuned slightly differently for the demands of the hybrid system.  One example is more aggressive EGR cycles to comply with emissions when starting the engine.  The hybrid manager is also integrated in the ECU and was developed completely by Audi.  Normally Bosch has a very large role in Audi engine management.  Below are some cutaways showing the basic layout of the system and the battery.
audi q5 hybrid drivetrain system

The air conditioning is also driven by electricity instead of a belt off the engine, otherwise it wouldn't work when the engine is shut down.  The transmission is also slightly modified for directly mounting to the hybrid module instead of the engine.  The hybrid module contains the electric motor and wet clutches that decouple the electric motor and gas engine.

continued: see page 2 of the Audi Q5 hybrid forum buying guide for more information