Cape Town – In case you hadn’t heard, the coupe crossover is still a largely relevant product in the global market. This is exactly why the Audi Q5 Sportback has been introduced as an expansion of the bodystyle for the Ingolstadt brand.
With the first-ever Audi Q5 Sportback, consumers shopping in the compact executive SUV segment now have the option of a product with a bit more dynamic presence via the swooping rear roof-line. One might be concerned about the loss of interior space with the absence of the traditional SUV shape but Audi assures that both boot and utility space remain generous with a claimed figure of 510- and 1 480-litres respectively.
Visually, the Audi Q5 Sportback doesn’t differentiate from its five-door counterpart too much from the front, but at the rear it is more distinctive. The dynamic D-pillar that connects to the rear of the car adds a sleeker and sportier element to the profile and it further enhanced via a spoiler mounted to the top of the hatch and integrated into panel body of the bottom. Below this, the coupe-SUV retains the design and proportions of its more conventional sibling. Thankfully, due to the roofline sloping rather late in the line of the body, headroom from the rear bench has not been impaired too severely as there is still enough room for taller adults.
The unit we were provided with was made to look more distinctive with the 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels (R5 000) and stainless steel running boards (R19 000). The cabin also benefited from the optional phone box (R6 500), black accent surfaces (R3 400), the panoramic sunroof (R25 100), front sports seats (R7 000), black headliner (R2 700), a luggage compartment mat (R1 800) and the Band and Olufsen Premium sound package (R23 900). The unit was also fitted with the comfort key and sensor-controlled hatch release (R10 800) as well as the technology pack which includes the MMI Navigation Plus, Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus and Audi Connect navigation and infotainment services (R33 000). The Comfort package (R27 000) adds electronically adjustable front seats, seat heaters, four-way lumbar support, electric steering wheel adjustment and the storage and luggage compartment package.
While this is a new product to the brand, the Audi Q5 Sportback adopts the mainline model’s interior which includes the floating infotainment display and analogue dials and buttons along the centre console. While modern features are included, the overall aesthetic of the cockpit is somewhat dated when compared to its peers in the segment. Putting this aside, the crossover boasts impressive perceived quality levels throughout, with buttons and controls that are solid, smooth and satisfying to operate.
The Audi Q5 Sportback 40 TDI that we were given to drive is powered by the brand’s turbodiesel 2,0-litre four-cylinder engine that delivers 140 kW and 400 N.m of torque to the Quattro system via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Unfortunately this unit doesn’t benefit from the 12-volt mild-hybrid system that is found in the TFSI.
As we’ve become familiar with this powertrain over the last decade, the turbodiesel does translate a notable amount of turbo-lag when more throttle is applied. Power delivery within the torque band however, is prompt and sufficient, making it quite capable on the open road. The S-Tronic is also surprisingly smooth considering it is mated to a torquey oil-burner. Jerky shifts and delayed gear engagements seem to be a thing of the past with these updated units.
Where the Audi Q5 Sportback 40 TDI further excels is in its NVH levels. At low and high speeds, the coarse rumblings of the diesel mill are kept to a minimum thanks to great cabin insulation. A thick set of 235/55 R19 Continental Sport Contact tyres also do their part in keeping road noise to a minimum.
Together with the adaptive air suspension package, the Sportback translates an impressively plush ride that makes it a treat to pilot in both urban and long-distance driving environments. The soft ride and generous profiled tyres soak up the bumps with ease, even along harsher tarmac surfaces. It’s also pretty impressive through the corners thanks to its front and rear multilink setup together with a rather weighty electrically assisted power steering and Quattro system. Impressive handling characteristics can be experienced from the driver’s seat through a set of twisty bends but, given its body shape and a soft-sprung suspension, body roll does become a bit of an issue through extremely confident apexes.
The Audi Q5 Sportback is a pleasant alternate addition available for consumers to select but elements of its design, both inside and out, do come across as a bit dated as it is essentially based on a model that was introduced to the global market four years ago. Regardless, it excels in terms of perceived quality and comfort and handling capabilities with a versatile turbodiesel powertrain.
Price: R960 000
Engine: 2,0-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 140 kW
Torque: 400 N.m
0-100 km/h: 8,1 seconds
Top speed: 220 km/h
Fuel consumption: 6,2 L/100 km
CO2: 163 g/km
Maintenance plan: Five-year/100 000 km