A significant model for Audi, the updated Q5 range introduces its fashionably late Sportback sibling. We sample the newest addition to the family. 

Unveiled at the 2008 Beijing Auto Show, the first-generation Audi Q5 was introduced as the third member of the brand’s B8 family of vehicles, complementing the platform-sharing A5 and A4 offerings. Boasting an appropriately raised ride height, replete with a high-quality and versatile interior, the Q5 would quickly establish itself as one of the most significant models within its maker’s portfolio. It would go on to become the best-selling premium midsize SUV in Europe for six consecutive years. Some 20 000 units of the original Q5 found homes in South Africa.

Q5 Sportback

By the time the second-generation Q5 broke cover in 2017, Audi was ready to tackle brimming global order books via a dedicated new production facility in San José Chiapa, Mexico. While the exterior of this Q5 boasted an altogether sportier stance and updated grille. Depending on the derivative, the shift to the brand’s MLB evo platform realised significant overall weight savings of up to 90 kg.

With global and local monthly sales of SUVs showing positive signs of recovering to their pre-Covid peaks – notably still at the expanse of sedan orders – Audi feels confident its now relatively comprehensive Q-badged line-up is neatly poised to continue building on the established success of the Q5. Following a relatively positive reception for the likes of the Q3 Sportback and Q8, it was perhaps inevitable that the Q5 would also gain coupé-like treatment. Corresponding with the arrival of the refreshed second-generation Q5, the first-ever Q5 Sportback’s profile mimics that of its popular sibling up until the C-pillar. However, from here, it offers a decidedly more raked tailgate, including a bespoke rear three-quarter window section. Audi claims the Sportback variant sacrifices just 10 litres of luggage space compared with the SUV derivative. Available on Sportback models, the rear seat plus package allows the second-row bench to be adjusted fore and aft to increase packing space when required.

Q5 Sportback

Updated to include a revised grille application, new signature LED daytime running lights, and leaner-looking side sills for a sleeker overall profile, the mid-cycle upgrades to the Q5 line-up result in the car being marginally longer than before. Acknowledged as pioneers in the field of exterior lighting, Audi also offers its OLED technology within the taillamps of the latest Q5 range. With these interactive items fitted, the pattern alters depending on the driving mode selected. They’ll also illuminate automatically should an approaching motorist get too close to the stationary Audi. Available in three specifications grades – Standard, Advanced and S line – the Q5 Sportback offers a choice of wheel designs from 19- to 20-inch in size, with 21-inch items reserved for the SQ5 Sportback.

Modifications to the otherwise sophisticated interior include upgrading the brand’s latest MIB 3 infotainment software, incorporated within a 10.1-inch touchscreen setup. The new operating system is touted to offer significantly enhanced reaction times and functionality, while owners can perform software updates remotely. Of the options boxes we would tick upon purchase, the Technology package adds navigation, Audi Connect services and, enticingly, the Ingolstadt-based firm’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit instrument display.

Q5 Sportback

Carried over from the pre-facelifted Q5 range, engine options include a 140 kW 2.0-litre turbodiesel (equipped to the 40 TDI variant driven here) and a 185 kW 2.0-litre turbopetrol engine, which powers the 45 TFSI model. The SQ5 Sportback’s 3.0-litre V6 turbopetrol produces 260 kW and 500 N.m.

Quattro all-wheel-drive is standard fitment throughout, with the four-cylinder models gaining Audi’s impressive quattro ultra system. This setup seamlessly disengages the vehicle’s rear wheels under light load, reducing unnecessary drag for improving fuel consumption in most driving conditions. Should any slippage be detected, the rear wheels are brought back into play within milliseconds.

The 40 TDI’s motor incorporates 12 V mild-hybrid tech and is equipped with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission for improved all-round efficiency. The former system also allows the engine to coast as it disengages the clutch at cruising speeds and downhill sections.

From the comfort of a suitably premium interior (Nappa leather is an option), the Q5 Sportback feels as comfortable and relatively surefooted as you’d expect in this segment. While the standard suspension does a commendable job of bump absorption and keeping body roll in check, the inclusion of the (R38 000) optional adaptive air suspension delivers a compelling blend of comfort and sporty prowess.

Such is the growing global significance of this segment that, as it stands, there isn’t a bad purchasing decision to make should you favour any of the current main protagonists. However, where the Audi stands out is it exudes sophistication. While its maker remains at the top of its game in terms of interior fit and finish, all-round levels of comfort and versatility in the Q5 Sportback are impressive. Although it’s a pity some of the nice-to-have interior appointments aren’t standard fitment at current asking prices, Audi isn’t alone in the rabbit hole of extensive options lists.  

The verdict

4/5

The so-called CUV (coupé utility vehicle) niche has grown its share of the B segment to 11 per cent. As with the Q3 and Q3 Sportback, which were introduced in 2020, the transformation from Q5 to Q5 Sportback doesn’t come with too much sacrifice in terms of practicality. However, as with its smaller sibling, the question remains whether those cleaner, boutique lines are worth the price premium over that of the already impressive SUV package.

Deep data

Audi Q5 Sportback 40 TDI quattro Advanced S tronic

  • Price: R1 020 100
  • Engine: 2.0 L, 4-cyl, turbodiesel
  • Transmission: 7-spd dual-clutch
  • Driven wheels: 4
  • Power: 140 kW @ 3 800-4 200 r/min
  • Torque: 400 Nm @ 1 750-3 000 r/min
  • 0-100 km/h: 8.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 220 km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 6.2 L/100 km
  • CO2: 163 g/km
  • Length: 4 689 mm
  • Height: 1 660 mm
  • Width: 1 893 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2 819 mm
  • Weight: 1 845 kg
  • Luggage capacity: 510 L
  • Fuel tank: 65 L
  • Warranty: 1 year/unlimited km
  • Service plan: 5 years/100 000 km