by Jay Traugott
Audi knows a thing or two about luxury performance SUVs. The Audi Q5 is the German automaker's best-selling vehicle in the US, followed by the larger Q7. But over the past few years, a new sub-group of SUVs has arrived, the so-called four-door coupe. The overall formula is quite simple: start with an SUV, rip off the body and replace it with a sleeker design at the expense of rear headroom and cargo space. For Audi, this results in the Sportback look.
Introducing the 2021 Audi Q5 Sportback, the sexier sibling to the conventional Q5 SUV. Audi has taken this opportunity to give the Q5 Sportback additional bolder styling elements front and rear. In many ways, the new model will offer customers the best of both worlds: style and SUV-like conveniences. It's also important to remember the Q5 Sportback is not the only vehicle in its class. The competition is already established but Audi's offering could just be the sexiest of the lot.
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Audi's latest design language has already been crowned a winner, but the new Q5 Sportback takes things further. Up front, there are large air inlets flanking the signature octagonal Singleframe front grille. Audi has continued to evolve this styling element over the years and it now boasts a more aggressive look. At either side of that grille, there are standard LED headlights. Audi's matrix-design LED technology is optional.
Moving to the side, notice the strong shoulder line that helps to further emphasize the wheels, which measure up to 21 inches. These lines then taper down at the rear end with the sloped rear window, while the more powerful SQ5 Sportback offers innovative OLED lighting technology for the taillights. Creating a homogenous light surface, these taillights will be split into three tiles of six segments each, thus giving Audi the chance to create different light designs from a single piece of hardware.
Compared to the regular Q5 SUV, the Q5 Sportback is actually 0.3 inches longer and, depending on chosen trim level (either Advanced or S-Line), the vehicle will look slightly different. Typically, vehicles look nearly the same from the outside regardless of chosen trim but, Audi feels differently.
Audi's longstanding reputation for amazing interiors continues with the Q5 Sportback that comes packing the same high-quality materials found in the Q5, such as leather, aluminum trim, and soft-touch plastics. Just like in the newly updated 2021 Q5, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display and a 10.1-inch infotainment screen are available, as are the latest generation MIB 3 infotainment system and a head-up display. A flat-bottom steering wheel adds to the sporty feel, while a Bang and Olufsen sound system is a tempting option.
The sleek exterior styling means interior cargo space has taken a hit, dropping from 25.1 cubic feet to 20.1 cubic feet. Audi does not specifically mention it, but it's possible some rear passenger headroom has also been sacrificed for styling's sake. There's enough space in the rear for three passengers thanks to the standard rear seat bench plus, which can be slid forward for additional cargo space. It can also be shifted laterally and comes with adjustable seat back angles.
Under the hood you'll find the same 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine used in the Q5, producing a total of 261 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. It also makes use of a 12-volt mild-hybrid system to help improve both efficiency and performance. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission will route that power to the standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Those seeking even more power and performance will need to upgrade to the SQ5 Sportback and its 3.0-liter TFSI V8 with 349 hp and 369 lb-ft. The SQ5 also comes with standard adaptive dampers, and optional air suspension and dynamic steering for an even more thrilling driving experience.
Like the Q5, the Sportback gets extremely useful driver-assist safety systems such as adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, Audi side assist, lane departure warning, and parking system plus.
Production of the 2021 Audi Q5 Sportback will begin in the first half of next year at the firm's production facility in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico. International sales will begin at around that time. Official pricing has not yet been announced, though it'll likely cost over $1,000 more than the 2021 Q5 SUV, which begins at $43,300.
Competition in the luxury performance SUV coupe segment continues to be tough. The Q5 Sportback will face off directly against the formidable BMW X4, Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, and Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. What the Audi brings to the table is everything that makes the Q5 SUV so great, such as bold styling, a stunning interior, and impeccable build quality.