Buyers of all-wheel drive vehicles want them for their all-round practicality. That does not however mean that the car can’t be stylish too. The crossover featured here is the new Audi Q5 Sportback and, retaining as it does the reassuringly robust attributes of an SUV from the Audi stable, it is still strikingly good-looking.
This type of vehicle is super-popular right now, appealing to people who appreciate the family-friendly utility and sophisticated technology of the standard Q5 but also admire the distinctive design. Form and function, you see.
This car has real presence: Large air inlets sit below the headlights with the distinctive daytime running lights featuring LED technology. Matrix LED units are optional on higher level models. The continuous, sweeping shoulder line emphasises the wheels, and the side sill trim on the doors suggests solidity. The cabin glass extends low over the body and begins its downward slope early so that the third side window tapers sharply to the rear. The whole culminating in the sloping rear window and the seemingly high-mounted rear bumper. It’s a dynamic shape that is distinctly Audi.
A standard-fit powered tailgate reveals a luggage compartment with a generous capacity of 510 litres, increasing to 1,480 litres when the rear seats are folded down. On some models the rear bench can slide forward too; a useful feature.The long wheelbase provides ample room for five in the cabin, the focal point of which is the cleanly styled two-section dashboard with its free-standing 10” screen. The MMI display enables the introduction of full touch-screen functionality for the monitor. There’s voice control too.
Audi’s latest system accesses information from ‘the cloud’ informing its responses, and can be activated by either pressing a button on the steering wheel or by saying “Hey Audi.” Conversing with a car must always be a personal choice.
The consistently great Virtual Cockpit of legend has a panoramic 12.3” display which is standard across the range. Also included are MMI Navigation Plus and ‘Audi Connect’ internet connectivity, delivering 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. There’s much more besides.
Audi always engineer their vehicles for driver pleasure, thankfully not lost behind all the technology. In the Q5 Sportback two powerful 2.0L four-cylinder engines, a turbo-diesel and a turbo-petrol, both deliver 201bhp (204PS) while the potent SQ5 Sportback powers down the road thanks to a 342bhp (347PS) twin-turbo V6 TDI. For the near future, plug-in hybrid TFSIe variants with a choice of two outputs follow soon.
The engines are combined with a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission, while the V6 TDI in the SQ5 Sportback works with an eight-speed tiptronic. All versions naturally come with quattro all-wheel-drive, with some variants featuring an on-demand system that can disengage the rear axle in everyday driving conditions for maximum efficiency, and reconnect it predictively within fractions of a second when more grip is required. That’s good for economy and emissions.
To further boost economy a mild-hybrid system employing a belt alternator starter also stores electrical energy generated during braking in a lithium ion battery. With its help the Q5 Sportback and SQ5 Sportback can coast with the engine idling or completely shut down, and are thus able to reap the benefit of start-stop technology by disengaging their engines during deceleration at a higher speed of 13mph and below, restarting unobtrusively.
The Audi Q5 Sportback updates this popular mid-size SUV with the very latest in technology and design. It is supremely comfortable on long journeys yet long-legged enough to eat up the miles.
Geoff Maxted, DriveWrite, www.drivewrite.co.uk