As inevitably as summer follows spring, Audi has launched a 'Sportback' version of its hugely popular Q5 SUV.
Now, normally we're not big fans of the whole coupe-SUV thing, but Audi, in fairness, seems able to make the aesthetics of it work rather better than most, and there's no denying that this Q5 Sportback is a handsome thing. It'll go on sale in the first quarter of 2021 with Sport, S line, Vorsprung and Edition One specification options.
Style-wise, the Q5 Sportback gets big air inlets either side of the main grille at the front, and headlights with distinctive LED running light signatures. S line models (and above) get Matrix LED lights. S line models also get a chunkier bodykit, while Vorsprung and Edition One versions get 'black packs' for the exterior chrome.
Around the back, high-spec versions get Audi's new OLED brake light technology, in which each individual section of the lights can be controlled separately for brightness, allowing animations and greater clarity. If, for instance, another car gets too close behind the lights automatically flash a warning signal.
The Q5 Sportback is actually a little longer than the standard car - by 7mm - but that length is all in the rear bumper, so don't go expecting a bigger boot or more rear legroom. Height and width are identical, but that sloping rear screen does have a practical benefit - better aerodynamics, with a Cd of 0.30.
Inside, there's a new 10.1-inch MMI touchscreen in the centre of the dash, which features a digital voice control assistant which you wake up by hollering 'Hey, Audi.' The system has access to the cloud, thanks to permanent internet connection through a built-in SIM card, and it also has the latest, high-speed, MIB3 processor. That means that it can use Google Earth satellite images in the sat-nav and, even more cleverly, us 'swarm' intelligence from other Audi vehicles in the area to help with lane-by-lane information on traffic flow and traffic forecasts in real time, as well as providing alerts for upcoming hazards such as slippery roads and fog.
Three engine options at first
Want to make your ears bleed? Step right this way for the optional 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo. Other choice options include a heads-up display, wireless phone charging, a host of advanced driver assistance upgrades covering everything from manouvering into a parking space and then reversing out again to turning at junctions, monitoring blindspots and observing motorway lane boundaries. There's also adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping steering.
That sloping tailgate is powered, and underneath there's a 510-litre boot (rear seats up) which expands to 1,480 litres with the seats folded flat - around 70 litres less than the standard Q5. The rear seats slide as well as fold, so you can, at the expense of rear passenger legroom, expand the boot to 570 litres.
The Q5 Sportback will initially launch with 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines - a TDI and a TFSI - each with 204hp and badged as 40 TDI and 40 TFSI designations. There will also be the SQ5 Sportback with its 347hp twin-turbo V6 TDI engine. Other variants, including TFSIe plug-in hybrids, will come on stream in due course. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with the option of a seven-speed 'S-Tronic' dual-clutch 'box or, for the V6 TDI engines, an eight-speed automatic.
Suspension is basically the same as that for the standard Q5, with lower, stiffer springs for sporty S line models, and the option of adaptive air suspension that can vary the ride height of the bodyshell in five stages and by up to 60mm. That system can also lower the rear of the car by 55m when parked to make it easier to load up the boot.