What Car? says...
The coupé SUV class that spawned the Audi Q5 Sportback might seem like a bit of an odd concept, but it's not as daft as it may sound.
Think of it like this: you get the rakish coupé style you always promised yourself, with most of the practicality of a sports utility vehicle thrown in. Indeed, so lucrative is the coupé SUV market that this Audi Q5 variant is one of several Sportbacks in the Audi line-up.
Prices in the class vary wildly – from the keenly priced Citroën C4 to splash-the-cash options such as the Porsche Cayenne Coupé – and the Q5 Sportback sits between the two extremes. Its main rivals are the BMW X4 and the Mercedes GLC Coupé.
Read on to find out whether we think it's one of the best coupé SUVs you can get, as we rate it against rivals in all the important areas.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Audi Q5 Sportback engine range includes petrol, diesel and PHEV options, and unless you need the tax-efficiency of the PHEV or the outright performance of the SQ5, we reckon the entry-level 201bhp 40 TDI diesel is the best option. It’s capable of 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds officially, and has lots of grunt at low revs, making it ideal for towing.
The 261bhp 45 TFSI petrol is even quicker from 0-62mph (6.1 seconds), and has plenty of mid-range punch as long as you rev it out.
The PHEV is called the 50 TFSIe and has 295bhp. It pairs a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and can officially manage up to 38 miles of near-silent electric driving. It matches the 45 TFSI petrol for pace.
Sport trim comes with Dynamic suspension and the smallest 18in wheels, which is the best combination for a supple ride. S line and Black Edition trim add a stiffer sport suspension set-up and also 19in and 20in wheels respectively. Bigger wheels and stiffer springs cause some fidget at motorways speeds and abruptness over potholes but it's not uncomfortable.
Whichever suspension choice you make, you won’t be carving up corners as adroitly as you might in the BMW X4 or the Porsche Macan. Still, the Q5 Sportback feels more agile than most SUVs of this size, with plenty of grip, tight control and only a small degree of lean in the bends.
A slight criticism is the light steering, which, while perfectly precise, doesn’t inspire the same confidence as the X4's does. It's a lot better than the inconsistently weighted helm in the Mercedes GLC Coupé though.
The 45 TFSI is smooth when it's revved out but all the Q5 Sportback's engines are likely to be slick – they are in the other models that we know well. In fact, quietness is, in general, a key ingredient. There's very little wind noise at 70mph and road noise is low too.
The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox changes gear quickly and smoothly, but can be hesitant to kick down at times and jerky in stop-start traffic.
Strengths Strong engines; great refinement; tidy handling
Weaknesses Jerky gearbox at slow speeds; light steering doesn’t promote confidence
The interior layout, fit and finish
Anyone familiar with the interior of the Audi Q5 will find themselves right at home in the Q5 Sportback, because both versions follow the same layout.
That means a highly adjustable driving position with manual driver’s seat height adjustment, four-way electrically operated lumbar adjustment and a steering wheel that moves up, down, in and out enough for most people to get comfortable.
S line trim upgrades the seats to sports seats that provide plenty of side support and comfort over long journeys, while top-spec Vorsprung trim has an electrically adjustable steering column and electric front seats with a memory function.
A 12.3in digital instrument cluster is provided with all trims and is the class standard for clarity and ease of use. It's much more intuitive to operate from the steering wheel than that of the Mercedes GLC Coupé with its somewhat awkward touch-sensitive pads.
You can control the Q5 Sportback's air-con settings with physical knobs and buttons, which are laid out logically and fall easily to hand.
It doesn't have a particularly high seating position compared with the Land Rover Discovery Sport and other regular SUVs, but there’s still good forwards visibility thanks to the relatively narrow front pillars. The only drawback is the heavily angled rearmost pillar that, typically for a coupé SUV, can obscure whole cars as you look over your shoulder.
That's not so much of a problem when you're parking because a reversing camera is provided as standard, as are front and rear parking sensors, and large door mirrors. All Q5 Sportbacks have LED headlights, but from S line trim you get matrix LED ones, which allow you to keep main beam headlights on at night (they dim automatically to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers).
One area where the Q5 Sportback lags behind the BMW X4 and the GLC Coupé is with its predominantly touchscreen-based 10.1in infotainment system. It requires you to take your eyes off the road to check you’re hitting the right part of the screen, although that is at least positioned high up on the dashboard. The GLC and X4 have rotary controllers and shortcut buttons to aid navigation (the X4’s iDrive is the simplest to operate).
Those rivals can’t beat the Q5 Sportback for interior quality though. Every surface your eyes fall on has a soft-touch finish and all the controls make a pleasant click that brings a sense of class the others cannot match.
Strengths Comfortable driving position; clear digital driver’s display; great interior quality
Weaknesses Distracting infotainment system; compromised rear visibility
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Front seat occupants of the Audi Q5 Sportback have lots of head, leg and shoulder room to stretch out into, while storage is generous, with capacious door bins, a good-sized glovebox, and plenty of nooks for keys and phones in the centre console.
Usually, coupé SUVs suffer when it comes to rear headroom, compared with their standard SUV counterparts, and while that’s true with the Q5 Sportback, it’s more generous than its rivals and still provides decent headroom. Knee and shoulder room are less impressive, proving par for the course compared with the likes of the BMW X4 and the Mercedes GLC Coupé.
The Q5 Sportback’s seating flexibility matches those rivals, with every version getting versatile 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats. A sliding and reclining function for the rear seats is optional if you go for S Line trim or above, and that's great for passenger comfort and to increase boot capacity when required.
Speaking of boot capacity, the Q5 Sportback sits slap bang between the X4 and GLC Coupé in terms of overall capacity – it has 510 litres of boot space or 455 litres in the 50 TFSIe PHEV version. It’s a usefully square shape and doesn’t have an annoying loading lip to negotiate, so it should be fine for packing a pushchair or the weekly grocery shop.
It’s worth noting that even the biggest boot in the Sportback is about 40 litres shy of the one in the standard Q5 because of the truncated rear end that comes with its coupé looks. 40 litres might not sound like a lot, but it could make all the difference when you're packing for your summer holiday.
Strengths Plenty of front space; versatile rear seats; decent boot space
Weaknesses Less spacious than a non-Sportback Audi Q5
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
As a cash purchase, most versions of the Audi Q5 Sportback cost less to buy outright than the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupé, while a Sportback version of the Audi SQ5 will set you back more than the equivalent X4 M40d. You do pay thousands more for the slinky styling of the Sportback over a standard Audi Q5.
All Q5s have excellent resale values, so you’ll get plenty of your initial investment back if you decide to sell in three years. It’ll also play a part in keeping monthly PCP finance rates competitive. For the latest prices, see our New Car Deals pages.
As for running costs, the Q5 Sportback closely matches the efficiency figures of the GLC Coupé (we managed to average 35mpg fairly easily on hilly country roads in the 45 TFSI). The 40 TDI is RDE2 compliant but it's still in the top tier for BIK tax. If you're a company car driver and want to keep your tax bills low, the 50 TFSIe PHEV will be your best option.
During our time with the Q5 Sportback 45 TFSI, we easily managed around 35mpg. Meanwhile, the 40 TDI version will officially manage up to 44mpg and the 50 TFSIe PHEV up to 177mpg if you keep the battery charged up and stick to short distances.
We’d stick to the entry-level Sport trim because it keeps the cost low, increases the ride comfort and gives you loads of standard equipment. That list includes power-folding door mirrors, heated front seats, three-zone climate control, cruise control and lots of other kit.
If you do decide to treat yourself, stepping up to S Line adds privacy glass and the excellent matrix LED headlights, while Black Edition gets all the same toys but with some extra styling.
The Q5 Sportback was not included in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but the regular Q5 did: the petrol finished in the top third of the 24 cars in the large SUV category while the diesel was near the bottom. Audi as a brand didn't fare particularly well, coming 26th out of 32 car makers included.
In terms of safety, the Sportback either matches or (for child and pedestrian protection) exceeds the X4’s score, with both getting the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating overall. The GLC Coupé got five stars too, but it did so in 2022 under stricter testing conditions, making it impossible to directly compare the scores.
The optional Driver Assist pack adds further safety technology, including blind-spot monitoring and a system that warns you about approaching vehicles when you're backing out into a road.
Meanwhile, the optional Tour pack (an option from S Line and above) includes turn assist, which stops the car if you fail to spot a car when pulling out of a T-junction, plus adaptive cruise control and traffic-sign recognition, to keep you informed of the prevailing speed limit. All Sportbacks come with a Thatcham-approved alarm and immobiliser as standard.
Strengths Lots of standard kit; cheaper to buy than rivals; slow predicted depreciation
Weaknesses So-so reliability record
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
If you’re after something that handles well, the BMW X4 has a slight edge on the Q5 Sportback. When it comes to interior quality and practicality, the Q5 Sportback is the one to go for.