2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback

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2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Test Drive Review: The New Status Quo

Audi is following the rest of the luxury crossover market in bringing the sloping coupe roofline to its compact performance crossover, creating the Audi SQ5 Sportback. The SQ5 Sportback is the newest member of the family, eschewing the Q5's 2.0-liter turbo-four for a 3.0-liter turbo V6 good for 349 horsepower, 369 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-60 mph sprint time of 4.7 seconds.

With stiff competition in the compact coupe-SUV segment from the BMW X4 M40i and Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 Coupe, the Audi appeals as a more grown-up performance SUV rather than imitating the hooligan-esque demeanors of its contemporaries. Despite this, at a price of circa $57,000, the Audi remains a strong value proposition. Big on style and strong on tech, the SQ5 Sportback is a consummate luxury crossover, but with the coupe styling comes a deficit in cargo-carrying capacity. In a battle of practicality vs performance and style, the SQ5 Sportback strikes a fine balance, but errs on the side of fashion, if ever so slightly.

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Changes: πŸš™What’s the difference vs the 2020 Audi SQ5 Sportback??

The SQ5 benefits from the same facelift the Q5 received earlier this year. It has a single-frame grille, new wheel designs, and LED headlights at the front and rear. Sportback models are all new for 2021 and have a more robust shoulder line and sloped rear window. It takes the standard car's somewhat humdrum design and transforms it into something striking and handsome so that Audi can take the fight directly to BMW's X4.

Best Deals on SQ5 Sportback

Pros and Cons

  • Well balanced ride
  • Strong engine
  • Superb interior quality
  • The exterior is more exciting
  • Interior tech is intuitive
  • Options are expensive
  • Not that exciting
  • Engine lacks character

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
3.0T Prestige quattro
3.0L Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$56,100
3.0T Premium Plus quattro
3.0L Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$56,100
3.0T Premium quattro
3.0L Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$56,100

SQ5 Sportback Exterior

The addition of a Sportback model takes care of the main issue we have with the standard SQ5 SUV: it lacks that wow factor. It's a competent go-faster SUV, but not the kind of car you glance lovingly at as you walk into the house. When it comes to the Sportback, you'll want to take one last look. It's one of the more successful SUV coupes out there, simply because it doesn't have a hideous rear end. Manufacturers usually struggle to make the tall back end and sloping roofline meet in a pleasing way, but Audi manages to get it right. We like how the roofline angles down and seamlessly joins the integrated spoiler above the taillights.

The SQ5 Sportback comes standard with 20-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, and the S-Line exterior. On the top-spec Prestige model, Audi adds Matrix Design LED headlights and OLED taillights, while 21-inch wheels are optional.

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Front View AUDI AG
2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Rear View AUDI AG
2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Side View AUDI AG
See All 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The SQ5 Sportback is similar in dimensions to the regular Q5, but a little longer, primarily thanks to the extended rear bumper - length is 184.6 inches. It's 65.4 inches tall and 74.5 inches wide. It uses the same 111-inch wheelbase. Weighing in at 4,321 pounds, the Sportback is heavier than the SUV it's based on. It doesn't lose any of its quasi off-road potential, however. Ground clearance for the SQ5 Sportback crossover SUV is rated at 8.2 inches, but it can be increased thanks to an available adaptive air suspension.

  • Length 184.6 in
  • Wheelbase 111.0 in
  • Height 64.3 in
  • Max Width 74.5 in
  • Front Width 63.6 in
  • Rear Width 63.5 in
  • Curb Weight 4,431.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

There are three trim levels, and all of them have access to eight color options. Ibis White and Quantum Gray are the only no-cost options, while the rest of the colors cost $595 each. These options include District Green, Florett Silver, Glacier White, Mythos Black, Ultra Blue, and Daytona Gray pearl. The SQ5 Sportback also has access to Audi's special paint color palette. Going this route costs $3,900, but you do get an additional 50 colors to choose from. We dig the Ultra Blue paint as it does the most to showcase the SQ5's elegant lines.

  • Florett Silver Metallic
  • Glacier White Metallic
  • Ibis White
  • Mythos Black Metallic
  • Daytona Gray Pearl Effect
  • Quantum Gray
  • District Green Metallic
  • Ultra Blue Metallic

SQ5 Sportback Performance

From the start, the SQ5 Sportback feels castrated. Like most Audi S products, the SQ5 is equipped with a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 that develops 349 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. It's a smooth powertrain, and it packs a punch, but not a mighty punch. Think more Mike Pence than Mike Tyson. There's a very good reason for this. If the Audi had more power, it would compete directly with the Porsche Macan. In Germany, this is known as nicht gut. This is most likely the exact reason why the Q5 doesn't get the same full-fat RS treatment.

The 3.0-liter V6 is good, but it lacks the pantomime provided by the newer 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6. We know the latter is a highly adaptable powertrain, which can provide from 375 hp to 444 hp. It revs higher, sounds better, and would likely be more efficient. If Audi really wanted to make a statement, it could have used its 2.5-liter turbocharged five-banger. Apart from the R8's V10, it's arguably the most entertaining engine Audi currently offers.

Still, you can see the effect of old-school technology in the performance figures. The sprint to 60 mph takes 4.7 seconds, That's on par with the AMG GLC 43 Coupe, but not as quick as the BMW X4 M40i. An eight-speed automatic transmission and a quattro all-wheel-drive system are standard, and it can send up to 85 percent of the available power to the rear axle. These mechanical bits do their best to help but can't completely hide the fact that the SQ5 Sportback uses an engine that's more than a decade old. On the plus side, the SQ5 comes with an impressive 4,400 lbs tow rating, which is more than the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 can muster.

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Driving Front Angle AUDI AG
2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Side Angle Driving AUDI AG
2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Wheel Audi

Engine and Transmission

The 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 dates back to 2010 and was widely used to replace the famous 4.2-liter naturally-aspirated V8 engine. Hang on for a second while we quickly reminisce about that glorious high-revving monster of a V8… Okay, where were we? Oh, yes, the turbocharged V6. It's not a bad engine. In fact, in certain more sedate applications like the A6 55, it does a marvelous job. In the SQ5 Sportback, specs are 349 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, sent to Audi's quattro AWD system via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

We've been really into the smoothness of engines lately. Mercedes has its new turbocharged I6 that we love for its quietness and thrust, and this 3.0-liter is the same way. In sportier modes, the SQ5 takes off quickly, with a gentle low-pitched thrum as it hustles through all eight speeds. It gets a little angrier towards the top of the rev range but even then, shifts don't shove you back into the seat.

  • Engine
    3.0L Turbo V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    AWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The steering is surprisingly quick and has a variable ratio, which is unsettling for a few minutes, but once you get used to it, it's much better than the alternative. Creeping out of my neighborhood it takes less than a 90-degree turn of the wheel to go around the corner, and when you're trying to stick alongside a roundabout, it's easy to hold the line. There's less road feel than in some rivals, but for an everyday driver, it's completely acceptable.

The SQ5 has a steel and aluminum suspension with adaptive dampers as standard equipment. A raising and lowering air suspension is optional, which our tester had. In addition to your normal, sport and sport plus drive modes, this also has allroad and off-road modes. The off-road mode relaxes the traction control to allow more slip for mud and sand, but the allroad mode is what most buyers will need and use. It raises the suspension to its highest height, making driving on a deep two-track road easy and drama-free. We used it often over the weekend in north Michigan, and never had to worry about bottoming out or scraping something off the underside.

SQ5 Sportback Gas Mileage

The Audi's EPA-estimated gas mileage figures are perfectly acceptable given the latent performance. According to the EPA, the SQ5 Sportback should be capable of 18/24/20 mpg city/highway/combined. The EPA claims the exact figures for the Macan S, which uses the same engine. For comparison, the 375-hp version of the 2.9-liter engine in the Macan GTS is capable of 17/22/19 mpg. That's a sacrifice we'd gladly make for the added grunt.

The SQ5 Sportback has an 18.5-gallon tank, which gives it an estimated driving range of around 370 miles. After a week or so of driving, we returned a little more than 19 mpg in mixed city and highway driving.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 18/24 mpg
* 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Premium Plus 3.0 TFSI quattro

SQ5 Sportback Interior

Remember the first-generation A7 and its touchscreen that slid out of the dashboard, Bond style? Audi is synonymous with quality fit and finish and the latest tech, positive attributes found throughout its entire range. It's not just the feel of the leather and the soft-touch plastics, but the pleasant resistance you feel when pushing any of the buttons. As a high-end model, the SQ5 Sportback comes standard with numerous luxury features. The ergonomics are spot-on as well.

Audi was one of the first manufacturers to hop on the minimalism bus. Most of the major features are operated via the touchscreen interface, but the drive modes and climate control buttons have mercifully been kept separate. If we had to nitpick, we'd name the dashboard-mounted touchscreen interface: Its placement in the Q5 feels like an afterthought. Please bring back the sliding touchscreen, Audi.

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Steering Wheel Design Audi
2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Infotainment System AUDI AG
2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Gear Shifter AUDI AG
See All 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Audi SQ5 has space for five passengers in relative comfort. It has 38 inches of head room up front, and 37.5 inches in the back - an inch less than the BMW X4, but it was more than enough room for a six-foot adult. We'll note that we never had three grown humans back there, but it seems like it would be a little tight. It was perfect with two child car seats fitted, though. The Audi has more legroom overall than the BMW and almost the exact same shoulder room.

The SQ5 comes standard with Audi's sport front seats with adjustments for lumbar and under knee support. There are options for black and gray seats and surfaces, but we loved the Magma Red with diamond stitching. This tester had the Prestige trim package, meaning a ton of extras like a heated steering wheel, Bang & Olufsen sound system, head-up display, full digital instruments, and acoustic glass for the front and side windows.

We also appreciate the cleanliness of the interior design, especially the center console. Where Mercedes and Porsche are getting super busy with light up buttons and mode switches, Audi's gear shifter area looks clean. We'd like that to be the style going forward.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.0 in
  • Front Head Room 41.7 in
  • Rear Leg Room 37.8 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.3 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Leather and Dinamica trim are standard on the base Premium model, available in Black with Rock Gray stitching or Rotor Gray with Anthracite stitching. Brushed aluminum inlays are the only option. Upgrading to Premium Plus adds Carbon Atlas inlays as a $500 option. There are also three Fine Nappa quilted leather options, retailing for $1,000 each. The options are Black with Rock Gray stitching, Magma Red with Red stitching, and Rotor Gray with Anthracite stitching. The top-spec Prestige model is available with the same options as the mid-level Premium Plus.

SQ5 Sportback Trunk and Cargo Space

The SQ5 Sportback's trunk is the biggest in the segment, rated at 24.7 cubic feet. This is only a slight sacrifice compared to the 25.8 cubes in the traditional SUV. It easily beats the 18.5 cubes offered by the BMW X4 and the 17.6 in the GLC Coupe. That's easily enough for the whole family's luggage for a short vacation and more than enough for daily errands. On those odd occasions when you need more space, the rear seats can be folded forward in a 40/20/40 split to create 51.9 cube cargo space.

Interior storage is ample. There are enough cup holders for everyone, large door pockets, and an average glove box. The wireless charging pad is located under the center armrest, which is perfect. Out of sight and out of mind.

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Multifunction Steering Wheel AUDI AG
2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Rear Passenger Seats AUDI AG
2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Trunk Space AUDI AG

SQ5 Sportback Infotainment and Features

Features

The SQ5 Sportback comes as standard with full LED exterior lights, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a power tailgate from the base Premium specification. Interior niceties include a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry with a push-button start, tri-zone climate control, LED interior lights, power-adjustable steering column, heated front seats, and a seven-inch driver information system. Premium Plus adds the Convenience Package, active lane assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist, Audi's 12.3-inch virtual cockpit, and a 360-degree camera system. The top-spec Prestige comes with Matrix-design LED headlights and OLED taillights, heated rear seats, a head-up display with traffic sign recognition, and Audi's Navigation package.

With the virtual cockpit added, drivers can choose between three viewing modes; sport mode replaces the classic mode as the default view on the SQ5. You can also pull up a tachometer and speedometer, with customizable displays to the left and right.

Infotainment

The 2021 SQ5 Sportback features a 10.1-inch touchscreen backed by the new MIB 3 infotainment system that is faster and has higher resolution than the previous version. It features voice control and Wi-Fi. It also offers Audi Connect PRIME with basic Wi-Fi, which is subscription based and allows for connectivity of up to eight devices. Audi says this entry-level Wi-Fi package is optimized for audio streaming and remote work applications, so we're guessing that means no Netflix video.

The infotainment setup comes with Sirius satellite radio with 360L, which combines normal satellite radio along with 10,000 hours of streaming music. Hybrid digital radio is also new, which first looks for the standard AM or FM station. If it's not strong enough it automatically switches to the online feed of the station. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included.

The stock Audi sound system has ten speakers, a six-channel amp and 180 watts. Available to mid-grade trims and standard on the Prestige is a Bang & Olufsen setup with 19 speakers, including a center channel and subwoofer, and a 16-channel amplifier with 705 watts.

SQ5 Sportback Problems and Reliability

J.D. Power does not provide a rating for the SQ5 and SQ5 Sportback specifically, but the standard Q5 SUV has consistently scored in the high 70s. Two recalls currently apply to the 2021 SQ5 Sportback. These relate to rear axle lock nuts that may break and seatbelt locking retractor malfunctions.

All 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback models are covered by a four-year/50,000-mile limited and powertrain warranty. Audi also included a one-year/10,000-mile maintenance plan.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    12 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles

SQ5 Sportback Safety

The NHTSA has not provided a comprehensive safety review of the 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback, but it did score four stars out of five in rollover tests. The regular Q5 Sportback scored a full five stars overall. And while the IIHS doesn't have a review of the SQ5 Sportback either, the standard Q5 Sportback scored six top scores of Good, and a Top Safety Pick+ award. Since the SQ5 model is equipped with the same active and passive safety features, it should perform equally well in an accident.

Key Safety Features

All models get six airbags, tire pressure monitoring, a rearview camera, and traction and stability control. Additional rear side thoracic airbags can be opted on for a nominal fee. The more advanced systems on the base Premium models include high-beam assist, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and forward collision detection with automatic braking. Audi pre sense rear and rear cross-traffic assist are also included. Mid-spec Premium Plus models get a 360-degree camera system, active lane assist, and adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist. The top-spec Prestige adds more powerful LED lights, a head-up display with traffic sign recognition, and park assist.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback a good crossover SUV?

So, the Audi SQ5 Sportback sits on top of the whole Q5 range: The base Q5 starts at $43,300 and the Sportback bodystyle adds $4,500 to that price. The quicker SQ5 starts at $52,900 and the SQ5 Sportback goes up to $56,100. That last one is the newest and fastest model in the range, which we review here, and is the most expensive.

We think it's worth the price because of its smooth and sweet turbo V6, a manageable amount of tech, and almost the same amount of space as the SUV version of the Q5. As a family vehicle, it proved to be able to carry four with cargo in comfort over a multitude of wet and dry terrains. And it's fun enough to drive that it doesn't feel like a penalty box when you're cruising on your own.

Then there's the look. Unlike both the Mercedes GLC Coupe and BMW X4, the SQ5 uses straight lines to differentiate the roof from the fastback. The jellybean style went out with the Ford Taurus, and we don't want it to come back. And at least on this vehicle, the Audi Singleframe grille beats BMW's kidneys and even Mercedes' Panamericana waterfall front end. Of course, design is subjective, so you can be the final judge.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback?

The price of a base Audi SQ5 Sportback Premium model is $56,100 MSRP. A mid-spec Premium Plus retails for $59,500, and the top-spec Prestige has a sticker price of $64,700. These prices exclude the destination charge of $1,095.

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Models

There are three models in the Audi SQ5 Sportback range: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige.

All models are powered by the same 3.0L V6 turbocharged TFSI engine producing 349 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The power is sent to Audi's quattro AWD system via an eight-speed automatic transmission. An adaptive air suspension system is optionally available for the top two trims.

The Premium model comes with 20-inch alloy wheels, a power tailgate, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry with a push-button start, tri-zone climate control, LED interior lights, and heated seats. Driver assistance features include lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and forward collision detection with automatic braking.

Premium Plus trims add advanced keyless entry, memory for the driver's seat, auto-dimming side mirrors, heated steering wheel, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 360-degree camera system.

The top-spec Prestige comes with more advanced LED exterior lights, heated rear seats, a navigation package, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, and a head-up display. All models boast a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system that works beautifully with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

See All 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

A Convenience Package can be added to the base model. It retails for $1,100 and includes advanced keyless entry, a memory function for the driver's seat, auto-dimming side mirrors, a heated steering wheel, and an all-access trial subscription to SiriusXM. The Premium Plus comes with the Convenience Package as standard, but you can add the Warm Weather and Navigation packages. The former retails for $600 and adds manual rear side window shades and ventilated front seats, while the latter adds navigation and a six-month subscription to Audi connect Prime for $1,500.

You can also add either the Black Optic Package for $600 or the S Sport Package for $3,000 to both of the top-spec models. The latter isn't simply a cosmetic package, as it includes red brake calipers, a sport rear differential, and a sport adaptive air suspension. The 19-speaker B&O sound system from the top trim can be had for $950.

Dynamic steering can be optioned on to both top trims for $1,150, while rear side thoracic airbags will cost $350 extra on all models.

πŸš—What Audi SQ5 Sportback Model Should I Buy?

The base SQ5 Sportback Premium trim comes well-equipped, but we think we'd move up to the Premium Plus trim to start. That comes with the adaptive cruise control and traffic jam assist, Audi's virtual cockpit, the top-view camera system, and a few other things, and starts at $59,500. The metallic blue paint is only $595, but if you had extra money you can spend $3,900 on a custom mix.

Adding the diamond-stitched seats costs $1,000 so we'd skip that and the warm weather package, and the navigation, because we have our phones. The Black Optic package is cool for $600. The S Sport Package is debatable, it's expensive at $3,000 but it does add the air suspension and sport rear differential. If you enjoy sporty driving, or are often on undeveloped land, we'd say get it. We'd skip the Dynamic Steering option and the 19-speaker upgraded audio system. That all brings us to a grand total of about $65,000 with all the right options. It seems a little expensive, but let us assure you, for a sporty compact luxury SUV, this is what you'll be paying.

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Comparisons

Porsche Macan Porsche
BMW X4 BMW
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Audi SQ5 Sportback349 hp18/24 mpg$56,100
Porsche Macan 261 hp19/25 mpg$54,900
BMW X4 248 hp23/29 mpg$51,600

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback vs Porsche Macan

The Macan GTS is the one you want, as it has the 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. Unfortunately, it has a base price of over $70,000. The S model is equipped with the same V6 as the Audi, but it's not as fast in a straight line. In this case, we'd go with the base Macan because it's better. How could we possibly recommend a turbocharged four-pot Macan over the SQ5 Sportback? Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first. It's a lot slower, with a 0 to 60 mph time of 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 141 mph.

But the base Macan has the same basic chassis and suspension setup as the Macan range. That makes it one of the most engaging SUVs out there. With less weight over the front axle, it's also more eager to turn in and less prone to understeer. Sprint times and top speed are irrelevant. We'd much rather have an engaging car, and even the base Macan delivers that in spades.

See Porsche Macan Review

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback vs BMW X4

At the price, the SQ5 competes with the M40i version of the X4. BMW's 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six is a great engine, providing 382 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque. It comes with a specially tuned version of BMW's all-wheel-drive system and various driving modes. With all the nannies switched off, the X4 tends to understeer. You can fix this by putting the adaptive stability control in its sportiest setting, in which case the X4 is loads of fun to chuck around. The car is doing all the hard work for you, but who cares? We'd like more steering feel, but this problem haunts nearly every performance SUV out there. The X4 M40i is a lot more fun than the SQ5 Sportback, but it's uglier (to our eyes, at least) and less practical. If these things don't matter to you, go for the Bimmer.

See BMW X4 Review

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