Audi’s 3rd Sportback CUV model is now available in South Africa.

first drive: the new audi q5 sportback

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FIRST DRIVE: The new Audi Q5 Sportback 

Audi’s 3rd Sportback CUV model is now available in South Africa starting from R960 000 for the 40 TDI quattro Advanced. We spent some time in the 40 TDI and the range-topping SQ5 Sportback. 

Audi South Africa chose to launch the Q5 Sportback whilst also showcasing the entire,  updated Q5 range. It is yet another freshening up of the product portfolio, as if there weren’t enough new Audi’s on the scene in 2021 already. Nope, the Q5 in SUV and CUV form is now here, somewhat later than Audi initially anticipated but they are on dealer floors as you read this. 

The Q5 is an important car for Audi SA as a premium, mid-sized B-segment contender that must win or retain market share from such a strong line of competitors. Merc’s GLC, BMW’s new X3, the Volvo XC60 and while we’re at it, even the Range Rover Evoque are all options. 

The updated Q5 receives some new design elements strongly noticeable within the Single frame grille elements, but the Sportback sports its own unique design differences at the front. The Sportback gets a more intricate honeycomb grille and air vent treatment, if specified. The contrast is noticeable. The Sportback is more striking. Of course, the visual markers of the ‘Sportback’ concept are the rear sloping roofline and a new rear tail light cluster design with 3 individual LED lights that are then further divided into 6 segments. Why? Because Audi does lighting like no other brand. Lighting animations as well as proximity and drive mode lighting changes are part of the optional lighting package. We’ll thoroughly test this when we review the Q5 in the near future. 

The Q5 Sportback design is quite unobtrusive. You won’t immediately know it’s a Sportback unless you know what you’re looking for – it is instead a conservative yet contemporary addition to the range, and closes the gap where there was one. Audi SA’s statisticians see an uptick in CUV desirability and the Q5 is an attempt to be part of that. 

Sold in Advanced and S line trim lines, there is the option of a 140kW turbo diesel 40 TDI or the 183kW turbo petrol 45 TFSI. If you’re looking for something more powerful, the SQ5 is here too with a 3.0-litre, in-line mill that delivers 260kW and 500Nm of torque. 

The 40 TDI drives with a keen sense of luxury and refinement. Coupled with a 7-speed transmission, it is powerful enough and eager enough for this application, never feeling underwhelming or lacking in power at all. I quite enjoyed the level of comfort and usability of the engine with its 400Nm of torque. Top Speed is quoted as 220km/h and it will see 100km/h from standstill in a hair over 8-seconds. 

The SQ5 on the other hand is typically Q5 in its approach. The car is certainly more dynamic and more willing and it comes with a crisp note from the exhausts. It’s less performance-focused than a Porsche Macan GTS for instance, but that’s not a bad thing. The SQ5 has the grunt should you really want to reel in the horizon fast, but it’s done in a Q5 manner which is refined and mature and modest for what it is. 260kW and 500Nm is what you have available under foot, and the SQ5’s adaptive air suspension means leisure or serious business are available to the driver. 0 – 100km/h takes place in 4.9-seconds. 

The Q5 SUV and Q5 Sportback are now more aligned to the rest of the new Audi range where interior technology is concerned. The digital touch concept is fully integrated here and the rotary function is no more. Audi Connect is also available on these updated cars. But the Q5 must also add more practicality to the conversation and it does this with flexible rear seating options with 40/20/40 split folding seats as well as body lowering capability for easier load access on cars fitted with air suspension. Boot capacity is quoted at 510-litres, extendable to 570-litres should the Sportback be optioned with the moveable rear bench seats. 

Audi’s premium nature means that these cars can be built to a very high level of specification. At launch, the SQ5 carried R319 900 of options, most of which are highly recommended. These include City Assistance parking package; 21-inch wheels; sports suspension; adaptive cruise control; phone box; B&O 3D sound system as well as dynamic steering and a trailer hitch. 

These options are available for the most part on all models, allowing you to build the same features into the 40 TDI. The 40 TDI launch unit also had R311 000 worth of extras within, including stainless steel running boards and the Comfort and Tech packages. 

The Q5 SUV hasn’t changed too much, and even through the addition of the  Q5 Sportback, the practical and luxury nature remains in both body styles. It’s a solidly built product that drives with assurance and refinement expected at this price point. 

The key observations for me are whether or not the Sportback design warrants a substantial premium over the normal SUV. Pricing below will show that. My opinion is not. I’d opt for a Q5 SUV with more space and the very same technology. I’m not convinced that the Sportback represents that significant of a design event to warrant a further R150 000 spend. 

Pricing for the Audi Q5 Sportback Range in South Africa:

Audi Q5 Sportback 40 TDI quattro Advanced    R960,000

Audi Q5 Sportback 40 TDI quattro S line             R1,000,000

Audi Q5 Sportback 45 TFSI quattro S line           R1,050,000

Audi SQ5 Sportback TFSI quattro                        R,1,355,000

Pricing for the updated Audi Q5 Range in South Africa:

Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro    R852,000

Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro Advanced R871,000

Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro S line             R897,000

Audi Q5 45 TFSI S line                  R947,000

Audi SQ5 TFSI quattro                        R1,208,000 

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