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New 2021 Audi Q5 Sportback review

Rory White

26 May 2021

1/8
The latest Audi SUV to get the coupe treatment is the Q5 Sportback. But does opting for the extra style mean it makes less sense?

PROS:

+ Great engine options

+ Impressive cabin quality

+ Good to drive


CONS:

- BMW's infotainment is better

- Mercedes' interior is more stylish

- Standard Q5 slightly more practical


Verdict: Going for a Q5 Sportback does lose you some space and practicality, but the gap isn't huge and the usual Audi quality, great engines and nice drive all still apply. BMW still does better infotainment, though, and Mercedes a more stylish interior.



2021 Audi Q5 Sportback review: the five-minute read


As a concept, the coupe-styled SUV doesn't make sense. The SUV exists largely to provide practicality, so adding a sloping roof and taking some of that away seems daft.


But that would be buying a car purely with your head – we all know it's as much about the heart. This is where cars like the Audi Q5 Sportback come in, but also the SUVs it's up against like the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe.


Of the three, the Audi probably the most sensible to look at. Its grille is prominent in chrome here, but you can also have it in black on other models, plus its sleek LED light front and back and clean lines give it the classiest appearance.



The same goes for its cabin, which features lots of dark colours with accents of silver and piano black, plus attractive ambient lighting. It looks, and is, solid, but lacks the pizzaz of the interior in a Mercedes GLC Coupe if you like a bit of showroom glamour.


Audi's infotainment system isn't quite as easy to use on the move as BMW's Drive, either, but at least the standard 10.1-inch screen is razor-sharp and the menus are simple to follow. Audi also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and does the best digital dials of the trio, which all comes as standard here.


The penalty for choosing the Sportback is slightly reduced space. Kids will be fine, but tall adults will find their head brushes the ceiling where it doesn't in a standard Q5, although adults in the front will find no difference. Boot space is reduced by just 10 litres but is also a fair bit shallower, meaning tall items are harder to squeeze in.



There's a decent choice of engines: diesel, petrol and two power levels of petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. At the top of the range sits the SQ5, too, which gets a powerful V6 diesel engine. Most will find the 2.0-litre diesel the best bet, but company car drivers will love the PHEVs for their range-lowest emissions and hence the lowest tax bills.


The Q5 Spotback's light steering and standard sensors and camera make it easy to drive in and around town, while its fairly firm suspension means it feels eager to go around corners if not exactly fun. On the motorway, it feels even comfier and keeps the majority of wind and road noise outside, although range-topping Vorsprung models with standard air suspension will like to the comfiest high-speed Q5s of the bunch.


All-told, a BMW X4 feels more agile and has better infotainment, while a Mercedes GLC Coupe is more stylish inside and out. However, neither is as high quality inside as the Audi, nor as relaxing to drive.


If you love the way the Audi looks most, you will not be disappointed. Just remember a standard Q5 is slightly more practical.


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Extended read…



2021 Audi Q5 Sportback interior and infotainment


The Audi Q5 Sportback's interior is much the same as the standard Q5's, which is no bad thing. The Q5's interior is generally very high quality, and the Q5 Sportback is very much the same.


As you can see in the above image the design is fairly minimalist, with separate climate controls and a trim piece that runs the width of the dash and ambient lighting breaking up what is otherwise a fairly dark and serious place to sit.


The Q5 Sportback features Audi's older style of infotainment, which is a 10.1-inch widescreen, touchscreen system that does away with its old rotary controller behind the front seats. Sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Standard too, are Audi's brilliant 12-inch digital dials.


All-told it's a good system, with a razor-sharp, responsive screen and easy-to-follow menus. BMW's Drive is still that bit easier to use while you're trying to drive at the same time, though.


Still, wireless charging for your smartphone comes a standard on Q5 models, while range-topping Vorsprung cars get an upgraded Bang and Olufsen sound system as standard.



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2021 Audi Q5 Sportback practicality and boot space


There will be barely any difference in the space available to the front passengers versus the regular Q5, which means tall adults sit in complete comfort.


The driver also gets a decent driving position with manual adjustment as standard, but also standard electric lumbar and full electric adjustment optionally or included further up the range.


The penalty for choosing the Sportback is slightly reduced space. Kids will be fine, but tall adults will find their head brushes the ceiling where it doesn't in a standard Q5, although adults in the front will find no difference.


Boot space is reduced by just 10 litres but is also a fair bit shallower, meaning tall items are harder to squeeze inside.



2021 Audi Q5 Sportback engine


The Audi Q5 Sportback comes with four and six-cylinder engines, plus the option of plug-in hybrid power too.


The petrol is a 265hp turbocharged 2.0-litre, while the lesser diesel is a 204hp of the same size. The sportiest SQ5 also has a diesel, which is a 3.0-litre V6 making 341hp.


Lastly, the plug-in hybrids both have a 2.0-litre petrol paired with a battery and electric motor. There are two power outputs are 299hp and 367hp, but both should have around 26 miles of electric-only range.


All Q5 Sportbacks get Quattro all-wheel-drive, and all but the SQ5 will come with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox – the SQ5 gets an eight-speed torque converter gearbox instead.


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2021 Audi Q5 Sportback driving


The Q5 Sportback is easy to drive in town thanks to its light steering and good forwards visibility. Its new rear end does mean the view backwards isn't quite as good, but you're treated to sensors and a camera anyway, so it shouldn't matter too much.


That standard Quattro all-wheel-drive comes in handy on country roads, especially where wet and grimy. The Q5 Sportback steers precisely and grips hard, but it's hardly what you'd call outright fun to drive. A BMW X4 feels more agile, although even that is no sportscar.


There are three levels of suspension: standard, stiffer sports for S line models and adaptive air suspension on range-topping Vorsprung models. Our S line test car felt on the firm side, but not frustratingly so and it did help it corner with more confidence.


The Q5 is very good on the motorway, where it feels solid in its lane and keeps the majority of wind and road noise outside. It's more comfortable here too, although we imagine cars with air suspension will feel even plusher at speed.


Audi's optional adaptive cruise control and lane-keep tech isn't cheap, but we'd say it's worth the extra if you're often hacking it up and down the motorway. It works reliably and really does add to the relaxation.


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Rory White

26 May 2021