DRIVEN: Audi Q5 Sportback adds some flair, but is it the pick of the bunch?

By Time of article published Nov 23, 2021

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Launch Review: Audi Q5 Sportback, by Justin Jacobs

Cape Town: Audi has recently updated its popular Q5 range with a few cosmetic enhancements. The most noticeable of the tweaks is the introduction of an all-new model, the Audi Q5 Sportback. I headed down to the Western Cape to sample the newcomer as well as the updated Q5 model line-up.

The Audi Q5 has become a popular offering for the German automaker since its introduction in 2008. In fact, some 249 149 units have been sold this year alone. The latest model offers refreshed styling and a completely new body style in the form of the Sportback.

Let’s focus on the Q5 Sportback for a moment. There is no denying the fact that Audi is late to the CUV party with this one, as both the BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe are in their second-generation offerings which have both been facelifted. Was the wait worth it when it comes to the Audi?

From a styling perspective, I like the design, in particularly the rear end. The roof line tapers down into the rear in true Sportback style. The keen eyed among you will notice the subtle boot-lid spoiler just below the rear glass. This adds to the sporty character of the car. The rear lights are also different to those offered on the standard SUV model. On the Sportback, they are elongated and, if so requested, will make use of OLED technology, a first in the segment.

To add to the drama, the Q5 Sportback offers an animated rear light signature which includes a dynamic coming and leaving home-lighting scenario. An additional sporty graphic is displayed in the rear light cluster when “dynamic” mode is chosen in the Audi drive select system. The lower bumper of the Sportback also differs from the regular Q5 in that it provides a sportier look.

The front of the Q5 range has also been given a refresh and features revised headlights with LED technology. This is further complemented by a redesigned single frame grille with larger octagonal structures. The far edges of the bumper make use of larger trapezoidal inserts to add an element of width and sportiness.

The Audi Q5 can be had in a variety of colours and trim options, all adding to the overall visual appeal but if you want maximum street cred then the SQ5 is the one to go for. It gains sportier bumpers, larger wheels with red brake-calipers and those iconic four-tailpipes at the rear, although the latter are fake, the actual pipes can be found behind the bumper.

The interior of both the SUV and CUV offering feature the same facia design with the only difference being the roofline. As is the case with Audi products, you can expect a neat and well put together interior. Some highlights include the digital instrument cluster and the addition of a new, larger 10.1 inch touch screen infotainment system. The system offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, the latter being wireless. A wireless charging tray can be found in the centre console.

The overall experience is finished off with ambient lighting throughout the interior. In fact, the lighting on the lower dash just above the climate control system will change from blue to red when the temperature is adjusted.

As for practicality, the standard Q5 SUV offers a luggage capacity of 520-litres which can be extended to 1520l. Some might think the Sportback will offer much less due to its design. In reality, it suffers from only a 10-litre deficit with the rear seats up and 40l with the rears folded down.

Powering the updated Audi Q5 range are two petrol motors and a diesel. The latter can be had in the form of a 2.0 TDI that delivers 140kW and 400Nm of torque. It makes use of a 7-speed S Tronic gearbox as well as quattro all-wheel drive.

The equivalent petrol motor comes in the form of the brand's tried-and-tested 2.0 TFSI which delivers a healthy 183kW and 370Nm of torque. It shares the same gearbox as the diesel model. It also benefits from A 12 V mild hybrid system (MHEV) which increases the efficiency. Its belt-driven starter-alternator can recover energy when decelerating and store it in a compact lithium-ion battery. What’s more, the MHEV system allows coasting with the engine off, while the start-stop range begins at a speed of 22 km/h.

For the power hungry out there, the SQ5 should fulfil your appetite with its 3.0-litre, 260kW/500Nm motor. It will hit 0-100km in just under 5 seconds and features a sublime 8-speed automatic and quattro all-wheel drive.

Out on the roads the Q5 offers a compliant driving experience, this is further enhanced thanks to the different suspensions on offer. Customers have a choice of the standard, sports as well as adaptive air suspension. The latter fitted to the SQ5 at the media launch returned a comfortable ride, even in dynamic mode.

Both the SQ5 and the diesel, being the two I sampled at the launch, returned a driving experience that left me impressed. Both felt refined and with enough performance, especially the SQ5, for any situation. The diesel would be my preferred pick of the bunch but, surprisingly, not in Sportback guise. One must also consider the price premium of more than R100 000, which the sportier-looking variant commands.

The IOL team will sample the new Q5 range soon for an in-depth evaluation.

Audi Q5 Pricing

45 TDI – R852 000

45 TDI Advanced – R871 000

45 TDI S line – R897 000

45 TFSI S line – R947 000

SQ5 – R1 208 000

Audi Q5 Sportback

40 TDI Advanced – R960 000

40 TDI S line – R1 000 000

45 TFSI S line – R1 050 000

SQ5 – R1 355 000

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