Audi Q5 Sportback drive by Steve Rogers

The SUV has become the nation’s favourite choice of car but the boxy shape can be a bit of a turn off.

Some companies have decided to spice them up, trimming the roof line to give a sharp coupe look.

What do you think of this one? It’s an Audi Q5 Sportback which is a Q5 but with a roof that has had some pretty drastic surgery. Actually the Sportback has been given a new body which is a tiny bit longer and a tiny bit lower at the mid point than its sibling. Face on the cars look identical but there are a couple of subtle changes for Sportback, notably the grille design, which is a sort of mesh effect, along with redesigned air intakes.

The first thing that occurred to me, viewing the car side on, was a serious lack of headroom in the back given that swooping roofline. Not the case at all. I am about average height but still had 13cm of headroom, that’s five inches to us old ‘uns, so unless you need to carry the likes of six foot whatever Peter Crouch (he’s the lanky footballer) then there is no need to fret.

Boot space is compromised but not by much. Ten litres less than Q5 with the back seats up and 40 litres less with the seats down which is no more than a medium sized bag. You will have noticed the use of the word ‘less’ so are we going to be paying less for Sportback? Nope, less is going to cost more to the tune of £2,450. Sorry to burst your bubble.

That aside, Q5 Sportback is a seriously nice car. Let’s look at driving first. It’s an Audi with quattro drive so it is bound to handle well, and this car handles very well, one of the best in its class. Be careful because it gives the feeling of invincibility barely putting a tyre tread out of line in the tightest of quick corners and that is before switching to the sports setting.

This holds on to the revs under hard acceleration, weights up the steering and stiffens the dampers but not by a lot, and at any rate the car feels so secure in the standard setting it is hardly worth the bother.

Performance is brisk  thanks to the S tronic seven speed automatic gearbox where changes are super fast although Audi has missed a trick by going for a 12 volt hybrid electric motor rather than a 48 volt which is becoming the norm and provides more punch when accelerating in the mid range.

Running costs are likely to be heavy because drivers will be luck to get more than 30mpg and that is with a fairly light foot on the fast pedal.

Let’s get back to an area where Audi always excels. I have been saying for decades that no one in the premium class trims a car to Audi standard and I stand by that but the finishes are all very dark and although everything looks neat and orderly it is not as plush as the Genesis GV70 reviewed last month.

Nearly a decade ago Audi raised eyebrows with a radical dashboard layout. Instead of the traditional two clock binnacle the driver looks at a 12.3in high resolution LCD colour screen that can display a number of combinations and with Google Earth sat nav filling the whole screen.

It started a trend that others followed and is still a standout feature. The wide screen infotainment centre dominates the dashboard but it is a shame Audi has ditched the rotary controller although the touchscreen responds instantly and the definition is as good as it gets. At least the heating controls are arranged in a neat strip with good old fashioned switches.

So to the big question. Is it worth spending an extra two and a half grand for a sloping roof? You could put the money to a couple of worthwhile packages to spec up your Q5, or you could spend it on a holiday. I’d go for the holiday.

Fast facts

Q5 Sportback 45 Edition 1 TFSI quattro

£56,705 (starts £47,875)

2-litre; 250bhp

0-62mph 6.1secs; 149mph

32.5mpg combined

197g/km. 1st year tax £1,565

Boot: 510-1480 litres

Insurance group 40

Towing capacity 2,400kg


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