Long-term report: Finding our feet with the Audi Q5 Sportback

The miles have been flying by the Q5 Sportback, which has unearthed some new aspects of the car. Nigel Swan explains.

Audi Q5 Sportback
Audi Q5 Sportback

I’ve been finding that the Q5 Sportback is a car with something of a mixed personality. On the face of it, it’s a big SUV, and, as you’d expect, has a high driving position with a commanding view over the road ahead. However, whereas most SUV’s tend to focus on comfort rather than performance, the Sportback is rather peppy.

It’s powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with 261bhp meaning it’s capable of the 0-60mph dash in around six seconds and a top speed of 149mph. That’s hot hatch performance in a car that wouldn’t look out of place on the school run.

Audi Q5 Sportback
The Q5 Sportback’s tapered roofline does impede on boot space slightly

That’s translated to a driving experience that means you can drive it carefully and find it extremely comfortable, but when you find yourself in a hurry, it will respond in a way you might not expect for an SUV. Overtaking is no problem, especially thanks to the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

Don’t look at the stats though and think that this is a car that you’re going to search out country lanes though. The steering and body control is well matched and there’s plenty of grip thanks to the four-wheel drive, but it doesn’t offer the same levels of thrills that you’d find in a car that equals its performance figures.

In all honesty, I find myself driving it mainly in full auto mode most of the time, knowing there is a little bit of extra oomph when I need it, and for that, it does the job well, without being overly exciting. But then, anyone who wants a more performance orientated Q5 would look at one of the SQ5 models, which starts at just over £57k – not much over our test car.

One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed with the Q5 over my previous long-termer – the Skoda Superb Estate IV – is the number of times I’ve had to pop to the local petrol station. On the positive side, my loyalty card points are on the up, however, during the ‘fuel crisis’ I was left thinking whether I’d reached the point in my life where an electric or plug-in hybrid really does make sense.

Audi Q5 Sportback
The Q5 has been doing some big miles recently

On average, with my heavy right foot, I’m averaging a fuel economy in the mid-30s, which isn’t too dissimilar to what you’d expect in some of its rivals, like the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe. Realistically though, if you like the Q5 but have one eye on economy, then the Q5 plug-in hybrid 55 TFSIe is a good way of keeping your running costs down – albeit with a starting price of around £55k.

So what have we noticed this month? Well, I’ve been a bit frustrated with the keyless entry system. On quite a few occasions now I’ve got to the car with my hands full and the keys in my pocket and all that happens is the indicator lights flash and it doesn’t unlock. That’s the point where I manage to free a hand only to realise the keys are in the opposite pocket. It’s frustrating for me, but funny to watch for any passers-by.

I’ve also had some phone pairing issues too, where it’s connected via Bluetooth and I can hear the person on the other end of the phone, but they can’t hear me. I need to do some investigation on that one, as nothing obvious appears to be jumping out at me.The only other thing I’d say is that I appear to be using the fold-down rear seats a bit more than I have in other cars. I think the loss of the extra boot space caused by the sloping roofline is really starting to show.

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