Audi Q5 Sportback Review
It sacrifices a small amount of practicality in favour of extra style and a touch more zip behind the wheel, with a slight cost increase too. Despite these compromises in the name of looks, the Q5 Sportback retains much of the passenger and boot space of the regular Q5, and it has one of the best quality interiors in the business. Leasing a Sportback over the standard Q5 will be a heart-over-head decision, but you’ll still be getting a very well sorted car.
Select's rating score* - 3.8 / 5
The coupe-SUV trend is now in full swing, having been established by BMW’s X6, which took the boxy styling of the X5 SUV and gave it a more coupe-inspired silhouette. The public loved it, and other manufacturers soon jumped on the bandwagon, giving their own SUVs the same treatment. Audi has pulled this trick with the Q3 and the Q3 Sportback, and now it’s the turn of the larger Q5. The overhaul hasn’t been hugely radical, but park the Q5 next to the Q5 Sportback and you’ll see that the rear end slopes in a manner more reminiscent of a sports car than a humble family car.
The interior is much the same as the regular Q5 – that is to say, excellent – and a range of trims and engines are available. As well as petrol and diesel options, you can have one of two plug-in hybrid models and a performance-focused diesel with some serious oomph to it. While all Q5 Sportback models are more comfort focused than nimble and agile like its main rival, the BMW X4, they still have solid handling and strong performance.
You’ll be tempted by the Q5 Sportback chiefly because of its looks. Your head might say that you’re paying more to have less space, but the Sportback gives you some extra visual pizazz without seeming ostentatious. That said, it’ll still happily house the family and a good few days worth of luggage, so it’s not a huge compromise in the name of vanity. The whole range comes with plenty of features, including some of the latest entertainment, information and safety technology.
The Q5 Sportback offers a slightly zippier, more engaging drive than the regular Q5, but not by much. Sportier suspension comes from the entry-level model, with a lower, stiffer setup and air suspension available on higher-end models. If you can stretch to it, the adaptive air system is worth having, as it’s the It’s still not a particularly exhilarating car though, especially when compared with rival SUVs like the BMW X4 or Porsche’s Macan or Cayenne.
Overall, it’s a confident cruiser. It’ll stay composed through the bends and resist the kind of body lean that some SUVs are prone to, but it won’t urge you to take the country road home rather than the motorway. It does comfort well, although the S line trim’s lowered, stiffened suspensions mean more ripples will be felt in the tarmac than in other versions.
You’ll have to choose between petrol, diesel or hybrid power. The petrol option is the 261bhp 45 TFSI and it’s impressive, with lots of punch on acceleration. It’s quite thirsty on fuel though, so those doing longer journeys may prefer the 201bhp 40 TDI diesel, which may lack a bit of power but has even more oomph at low revs and improved fuel economy.
If you really want to save fuel, you can opt for the 50 TFSI e plug-in hybrid (PHEV), which also has even more power. Combine, its petrol engine and electric motor make 296bhp, and it’ll do up to 38 miles on electric power alone. It’s heavier than the other models, thanks to its electrical gubbins, but its performance is as good as the 45 TFSI.
For even more grunt, the top-spec SQ5 has 336bhp from its diesel engine, which means mega-strong performance but with better fuel economy than a similarly-powered petrol car. Or you can go for the 55 TFSI e PHEV, which ups the power to 362bhp, but doesn’t have quite the same dynamic focus as the SQ5.
If you want ultimate fuel economy, then the plug-in hybrid models are the ones to look at, although you’ll have to drive them in a specific way. Keep the battery charged and do shorter journeys that can rely only on the electric motor, and you’ll make a tank of petrol last for ages. But once the battery is depleted, the fuel economy will plunge. The official fuel economy figure is up to 188.3mpg, but that means almost nothing as it’s so dependent on use.
The diesel models promise up to 44.8mpg for the 40TDI or 34.0mpg for the SQ5. The petrol-powered 45 TFSI will give you up to 33.6mpg.
When it comes to CO2 emissions, then the two plug-in hybrid models are the only real choice for company car drivers. The 50 TFSI e emits 36g/km and the 55 TFSI e 41g/km. With electric-only ranges of 38 miles and 36 miles respectively, that means benefit in kind brackets of 11% for 2021/22.
All other Q5 Sportback models fall into the top 37% BIK bracket.
Audi has a stellar reputation for interior quality and the Q5 Sportback does nothing to change that. Material and build quality is as bulletproof as anything else on the market, and the design – virtually unchanged from the regular Q5 – is stylish but classy and understated. Visibility out of the rear isn’t quite as good as the regular Q5, due to the revised design of the roof, but all models have a reversing camera and parking sensors included as standard.
The dashboard of the Q5 Sportback is dominated by a large 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that looks slick and is easy to navigate, but not as straightforward to use as some rival systems, due to the lack of dials or buttons. These are easier to adjust while driving. Still, the system is still a good one, and the digital dashboard (rather than analogue dials) works alongside the infotainment system, letting you customise what you see behind the wheel.
Features include navigation that uses Google Maps imagery and a voice command service. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all models, as is a 10-speaker sound system.
The dipping roof line does impact practicality in the Q5 Sportback compared to the standard Q5, but it remains a very spacious car. Rear seat passengers should have no worries about head room, and while boot space is down from 500 litres to 510, it’s still a sizable load area. The rear seats slide backwards and forward to improve rear legroom or luggage space, and they fold down flat to accommodate larger items, in a 40/20/40 split.
The hybrid models have extra batteries in the back, which means less boot space, but at 455 litres they’ll still hold plenty of stuff.
Cubby hole availability is the same as in the regular Q5, which means a generous glovebox, big pockets in the doors and trays in the centre console for odds and ends, as well as a storage box under the centre armrest.
The Q5 Sportback is almost identical to the regular Q5, which scored the maximum five stars when tested by independent safety organisation Euro NCAP back in 2015. All models have some cutting edge safety tech, including automatic emergency braking, and you can add extra systems by upgrading the trim level or raiding the options list. These include blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control, as well as a system that will warn you of approaching traffic when reversing out of a parking space.
There are six trims to choose from on the Q5 Sportback, although two are exclusive to the hybrids. The range starts with the Sport, which includes LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as sat-nav, comfort dynamic suspension and cruise control. Upgrade to the S line model and you’ll get 19-inch wheels and clever Matrix LED headlights, which let you keep full beam on at night without dazzling oncoming traffic. The suspension is lowered and stiffer, and there are extra sporty styling bits added to the bodykit.
The Edition 1 trim adds 20-inch alloys, black styling elements on the outside and Nappa leather upholstery, while the top-spec Vorsprung model brings in 21-inch alloys, OLED rear lights and a panoramic sunroof, as well as various semi-autonomous systems including adaptive cruise control. You’ll get a Bang & Olufsen sound system too. There are two extra trims exclusive to the plug-in hybrid models, the 50 TFSI e and the 55 TFSI e. The Competition spec sits above S line, and has 20-inch alloys, Nappa leather upholstery and massaging front seats, while the Competition Vorsprung rides on 21-inch wheels and has the OLED rear lights, sound system, sunroof and extra driver assistance systems of the regular Vorsprung, but with a slightly sportier look.
When it comes to options, you can tweak your paint, wheels and upholstery and upgrade to the Comfort and Sound pack, which adds the B&O sound system, a 360-degree camera system and a hands-free boot opening system.
The coupe-SUV market is growing, as increasing numbers of customers decide that they’re willing to splash out a bit more, and sacrifice a bit of space to have something that looks a bit more rakish. The Q5’s big rival is the BMW X4, which doesn’t have as nice an interior, but is more fun to drive. If you want real driving fun then the Porsche Cayenne Coupe is king, but it’s also larger and much more expensive. The Porsche Macan is closer in price, but smaller. It’s also not, strictly speaking, a coupe-SUV.Q5 and see something a bit better looking, and you don’t mind paying a touch more to do so, then the Sportback will do what you need it to. It’s still an excellent family car that drives well and has an unrivalled interior.
Let your heart and your head decide who has the final say.
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Audi Q5 Sportback
**Correct as of 27/05/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £3844.69 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.