2021 Audi Q5 Sportback Review: Same Same Butt Different

Audi doubles down on the Q5 formula with the coupe-like Q5 Sportback that has a different derriere but is otherwise: Exactly. The. Same.

Photos: Leow Ju-Len and Derryn Wong

SINGAPORE -The Audi Q5 Sportback is the coupe-ier version of the brand’s mid-sized luxury SUV, the Q5. We abbreviate it here to ‘Q5 SB’, but it really should have been called the Audi Q5 SSBDBSS.

That is, the Q5 Same Same Butt Different, But Still Same, because it looks like a Q5, feels like one inside, and even drives like one, except its posterior is shapelier. 

2021 Audi Q5 Sportback

The Q5 Sportback popped up here quietly at the end of July 2021 as our news coverage explains, not long after the regular, facelifted Q5 took its bow in Singapore. 

We’ll preface this review by saying that reading our review of the original Audi Q5 explains a whole lot, and it also helps that both cars are pretty much identical, in this case the 2.0-litre Quattro all-wheel drive model with 249hp. 

Look at the Q5 SSBDBSS (ok ok, ‘Q5 SB’) from the front, and it appears to be a regular Q5. The dimensions don’t help, since both the Q5 and Q5 SB are almost exactly the same size – Sportback is 4,689mm 1,893mm 1,660mm, compared to the normal Q5 at 4,682mm, 1,893mm 1,662mm. Helping our thesis is the fact that both cars’ on-paper performance metrics are identical.

The silver foglight surrounds are different on the Q5 SB

There’s a tiny bit of difference in the lower fog-light sections, but the biggest divide is the sloping roofline of course – the giveaway is the C-pillar window which is pointy, compared to the wedge-shaped window of the Q5.

The SB also has an upturned, spoiler-esque bootlid, and an upswept chrome figure line (the bit that looks like a handlebar mustache) above its rear diffuser. Also, no tailpipes, when you’d expect the opposite.

Triangular rear window is a big clue to the Sportback’s nature

The overall coupe-ness of the car isn’t in your face, and the Q5 SB is far more subtle than the Q8 is to the Q7, for example. Our guess is, since the Q5 SB is the last car to the mid-lux-SUV-coupe game, Audi’s looking to minimise cost until the electric replacement comes around – that’s why Mini is re-refreshing its cars, for example. 

Here’s a Sportback and non-Sportback that are traditionally the same vehicle with a different but

Inside, it’s Q5 business as usual. The previous car was one of the last holdouts of the rotary-dial Multimedia Interface (MMI) infotainment system. The dial is now replaced by a small cubby-hole, with control by touchscreen pushed out and forward, just like the A4 sedan. It’s a newer, flashier system with sharper graphics and less lag, and the usual smartphone integration. 

A wizened claw rises from the depths and is unable to follow on-screen instructions

Unlike other coupe-SUVs, the Q5 SB’s height means it feels almost as spacious and airy as a Q5 – cutouts in the rear mean the headroom is preserved, and there’s decent space for four adults. Even the boot space is almost the same, only 10-litres shy of the Q5 at 420-litres, and 40-litres less with the seats folded down at 1,480-litres. 

The seating position is high and reassuring, and the fact that the Q5 Sportback doesn’t have thick A- or C-pillars and tiny windows is probably a minus for styling, but a plus everywhere else: This isn’t the sort of car you need to peek out the window to see if you’re going to grind your wheels into expensive aluminium dust on carpark kerbs. 

Behind the wheel, there’s no major variations whatsoever on the Q5 theme : The 2.0-litre turbo engine is tractable, flexible, and has lots of grunt. All-wheel drive gives the car surprising straightline pace, the handling is accurate and precise but not tremendously involving, while the refinement is excellent. 

Our test car came with optional 21-inch wheels (20-inch rollers are standard) which contributed to a more jittery ride, but it’s de rigueur for the segment – it’s still relatively comfy compared to the 22-inch supreme-pizza-sized rollers on our Jaguar F-Pace test car for instance. 

It sounds like we’re damning the Q5 SB with faint praise to say that it’s not actively sportier than the regular Q5, but we’re not. This is Audi being Audi, striking a balance between BMW and Mercedes-Benz once again. 

A little more pizzazz and differentiation from the normal Q5 would have been interesting. In comparison the BMW X4 is longer, lower, and wider and even has a wider rear track, it’s also considerably different to drive from its X3 brother. 

On the other hand, there’s the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe with less practicality, smaller windows, and less visibility than the GLC itself, though the car’s appearance is enough to convince some buyers. 

Coupe-infected buyers should also note that the Sportback costs more than the normal Q5 – around S$19,000 more. The model shown here is the S Line model, which has different wheels, adaptive dampers, sports seats, and the funky OLED rear lights with fancy unlock sequence, and costs around S$13k more than the base Advanced model.

Audi took the same recipe with its Q3 and Q3 Sportback, and sales proved the point that buyers who want the Sportback want the exact same thing with a slightly different butt. Same same butt different  – but still the same. 

Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 Quattro

Engine1,984cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power259hp at 5000-6000rpm
Torque370Nm at 1600-4500rpm
Gearbox7-speed dual-clutch 
0-100km/h6.3 seconds 
Top Speed237km/h
Fuel Efficiency8.0L/100km
VES Band C1 / +S$10,000 (+15,000 July 1st)
AgentPremium Automobiles
PriceS$2??,254 with COE and VES
Verdict It’s the Audi Q5 SUV with a nicer butt and very slightly smaller boot

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about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong