2021 Audi Q5 Sportback Review: Competent, but Not Excellent


The 2021 Audi Q5 Sportback continues the now long tradition of offering an SUV with a boxy shape and then a similar SUV with a coupe-like sloping roofline, which BMW launched in 2008 with the X6. The candy-like shape has been refined over the years, with Audi, Volkswagen and Lamborghini taking a decidedly more angular approach.

Like many of these sleeker SUVs and crossovers, the Q5 Sportback loses surprisingly little cargo space compared to its boxier counterpart. The larger Q5 swallows 54 cubic feet of cargo with the seats folded down; the Sportback arrives with 51.9 cubic feet. With the second row of seats, the difference is reduced to just over a cubic foot.

The Q5 comes standard with a panoramic sunroof, front sport seats, lane departure warning and Audi side assist, which scans for curb traffic when opening the doors. The top-level Prestige trim tested here adds the company’s new Matrix LED headlights, ventilated front seats, head-up display with traffic sign recognition, navigation and a premium audio system.

And that top trim makes the cabin look pretty with unfinished wood and chrome trim, plus leather seats. Unfortunately, these seats are a little stiff for the smaller driver, although they do feature enough side padding to hold the driver in place. There’s a greater amount of plastic in the cabin than expected for a vehicle at its price, with the doors covered in a textured version.

The 2021 Audi Q5 Sportback features a more coupe-like roofline than the standard Q5.
Audi of America

The infotainment touchscreen is easy to use with large icons for navigation, phone, radio, settings and more to point to while driving. Redundant buttons covering the same functionality on the side of the 10.1 inch screen. The volume dial is annoying on the passenger side of the gear selector, but the tactility is excellent. The radio can also be adjusted and tuned using buttons and dials on the steering wheel. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

The automatic climate control is adjusted by large, easy-to-read dials, and rockers help adjust fan speed and mode. The whole point of it all is to be able to make changes without taking their eyes off the road, and Audi pulled it off.

The SUV’s powertrain isn’t as successful of an implementation. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine does all the work (buyers should upgrade to the SQ5 to get the more powerful V6). It delivers 261 horsepower (hp) and 273 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque, good for a 5.7-second sprint to 60 miles per hour (mph) off the line.

In practice, the combination of the smaller engine, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) and standard all-wheel drive feels a bit sluggish. Dynamic, the most aggressive driving mode, is where this vehicle should stay. The Q5 also has Comfort, Auto, Individual and Off-Road modes (with a high ride height to match).

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The drivetrain is surprisingly smooth for a DCT, which typically hiccups or surges when stopping or taking off. However, the Q5 Sportback just doesn’t have the appeal a buyer might want in a luxury vehicle without really keeping it going. For reference, the SQ5’s V6 develops 349 hp and reaches 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds.

The flip side is fuel efficiency, which is impressive at an EPA-estimated 28 miles per gallon (mpg) on ​​the highway and 23 mpg in the city. In a real full tank of fuel, the Audi Q5 returned nearly 27 mpg in mixed driving.

As far as coupe-like SUVs go, the 2021 Audi Q5 Sportback is better than most, but it rides really high thanks to its off-road drive mode and capability. It also slows his reaction down a bit and looks a little odd curbside.

The sleek Q5 Sportback ($48,895) rivals other rounded SUVs like the BMW X4 ($51,800), Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe ($52,500), Genesis GV70 (a $41,500 steal) and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio ($45,550). The Cadillac XT5 ($43,995), Acura RDX ($41.00) and a few others will also compete for the same compact luxury buyers, and are also worth a look.

If buyers are looking for a capable, good-looking crossover that won’t leave your neighbors in the driveway excitedly asking questions, the Q5 Sportback is a good place to start. The Alfa Romeo and Genesis offer more visual drama and can woo onlookers. For buyers looking to blend in, the German threes are the easiest route.


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