The past decade or so has been a period of huge growth for Audi. Clearly central to this success has been Ingolstadt’s ability to turn out SUVs in all sizes and classes with a wide range of drivetrains and at a level of quality consummate with its premium brand positioning.
Among it all, one model in particular has stood out: the Q5. Introduced in 2008, Audi’s second dedicated SUV has regularly been among its three best-selling models. Even in the difficult sales conditions encountered last year, it still managed to pull in more than 130,000 sales worldwide.
Now, following the launch of the facelifted second-generation model, a rakishly styled variant of the mid-sized SUV has arrived in the form of the new Q5 Sportback. Produced at Audi’s newest manufacturing plant, in Mexico, it has been conceived to take on the likes of the BMW X4, Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé and Range Rover Velar in a market niche that continues to grow in the UK as more and more buyers overlook traditional coupés in favour of style-led SUVs that offer more commanding seating and greater everyday practicality.
Audi is no stranger here, of course, with the Q3 Sportback, E-tron Sportback and Q8 all adhering to the same formula. Taking the lead from these three existing SUVs, the Q5 Sportback borrows the front end styling of its long-established sibling and mates it with a new liftback style rear end that features a large, clamshell-style tailgate, giving it a distinctly more rakish appearance.
There are some unique design touches, mind you, including a new front grille with a honeycomb-style design and restyled tail-lights with differing OLED graphics depending on the equipment line buyers choose. However, there’s no denying the overall visual links between it and the conventional Q5.
The packaging of the liftback adds a scant 7mm to the overall length of the Q5, taking the Q5 Sportback up to 4690mm. Despite its more sporting lines, its width remains the same, at 1893mm, but its height is reduced by as much as 62mm, at 1600mm.
Predictably, the similarities extend to the interior: the Q5 Sportback contains the same dashboard, switchgear, trim elements and seats as the facelifted Q5. It’s a fine driving environment, with great clarity to the instruments, excellent ergonomics and the sort of quality materials befitting the new model’s premium positioning. It has lost out on space, though. The sloping nature of the roof reduces rear head room, while the angled tailgate robs 10 litres of boot space underneath the cargo cover, reducing it to 510 litres when the adjustable split-folding rear seatbacks are set in their regular position. When they’re folded down, there’s 1480 litres of luggage room.
The Q5 Sportback is produced with a wide range of petrol and diesel engine options in both four-cylinder and V6 guise, all shared with the Q5, although not all will be available at the start of UK deliveries in June.
Confirmed so far is only a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine with 201bhp, badged 40 TDI – the model that’s expected to account of the majority of British sales. In line with developments brought to other recent new Audi models, it features a new twin-dosing exhaust with two catalytic converters and an Adblue injection system that are together claimed to dramatically reduce NOx emissions, making the car compliant with the EU6d emission regulations that came into force at the start of this year.