Audi Q5 Sportback 45 TFSI Quattro — Refined elegance

By Jim Prueter

(May 5, 2022) Oh yes, looks matter. The luxury compact SUV segment that began well over a decade ago and sells by the bucketloads has moved on to a supposedly more stylish SUV-coupe iteration and as expected sells in big numbers. Luxury automakers Porsche, Genesis, Mercedes and BMW all offer slope-backed variants of their mid-sized SUV product offerings like Mercedes GLC Coupe, BMW’s X4 and X6, Porsche Macan and Genesis GV70.

We think some of the early results were odd-looking machines that suggested a squatting dog, stood high, had too many windows on the side, didn’t offer enough space and didn’t drive particularly well.

Since then both BMW and Mercedes have updated their coupes to build a self-proclaimed more stylish SUV Coupe and it appears a new craze for these vehicles is beginning to sweep across the country. Joining the party is German automaker Audi who thankfully isn’t calling their slope-back SUVs a Coupe, rather calling it a Sportback.

Following in the footsteps of the larger Q8, Audi also offers a sleek “Sportback” version of the regular Q3 that’s aimed directly at the BMW X2. However the attractive Q3 Sportback is only offered for European markets. We expect it will likely come to the United States within a year. But the good news is Audi introduced a U.S. version of the sleek-roofline Q5 Sportback for the first-time last year and its exterior looks are nothing short of spectacular.

If suit maker Armani built cars the Q5 Sportback is what we think it would look like. Elegant — refined elegance at that.

For the 2022 model the Q5 Sportback gets a modest makeover including an updated grille, front and rear bumpers, new 18- and 20—inch wheel designs, and restyled headlamps and rear taillights. The Sportback is just slightly longer but no wider than the standard Q5 offering and both models ride on the same platform and are powered by the Q5’s standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 261-horsepower, up from last year’s 248-horsepower, connected to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission and quattro all-wheel-drive. For 2022 a 12-volt hybrid is now standard.

We tested the Sportback 45 TFSI with the standard engine. There’s a more powerful plug-in hybrid powertrain available in the Q5 Sportback trim level. Both Q5 models now come standard with sportier S line exterior styling.

Our Q5 came equipped with the optional Premium Plus package (($3,200) that includes Audi’s virtual cockpit, top camera system, auto-dimming and power-folding exterior mirrors, memory for driver’s seat, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel and other extras. A Sport package ($1,4000 added good-looking 21-inch double-spoke wheels with summer tires and a sport suspension, the optional Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system ($950) and MMI Navigation plus ($1,500).

Our Q5 was supremely comfortable inside with some of the best seats we’ve experienced. The cabin is spacious both up front and in the back seat with easy enter-exit functions for five adults. Impeccable build quality is the hallmark of Audi vehicles and the Q5 is no exception. Interior materials are finely crafted and fit throughout the cabin with a pleasing mix of authentic leathers, metals and wood veneers inside. The overall look is clean, uncluttered and appropriately upscale.

The Q5 is loaded with MMI infotainment and operational features that take some practice getting used to. But once mastered the system is logical and easy to use. The included Virtual Cockpit lets you minimize the speedometer and tachometer gauges while expanding the instrument cluster and gauges to an attractive color screen that displays things like audio, phone, and navigation information. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.

Standard safety equipment includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic warning. 

So, what’s it like to drive? While not one of the most engaging SUVs to drive there’s no denying the overall refined and comfortable nature of the Q5. Most noticeable is the build quality with the vehicle feeling like a bank vault. Doors close with a solid thud and road imperfections are nearly undetectable. Smooth, quiet and mellifluous on the highway or in town.

A run of 0 to 60 is a quick 5.5 seconds with plenty of punch from the 261-horsepower getting you up to highway speeds quickly or when passing on two lane roads. The suspension is well damped rendering a stable and confident-controlled feedback. Traveling down twisty two-lane blacktop mountain roads the Q5 handled more than reasonably well however the same trip with the Genesis QV70 and Porsche Macan was sportier delivering more smiles and a higher fun factor.

Overall, the Q5 is a runway beauty and solid pick in the compact luxury SUV class. It’s one of our more favorite tested vehicles this year - rich in materials, build quality and hi-tech features. We crush on the couture looks of the new upscale Sportback, but you’ll pay dearly for it. The standard Q5 starts at $43,300 and the Sportback at $50,100.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $53,500
Price as Tested: $59,040
Engine-Transmission: 261-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine connected to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and standard all-wheel-drive.
EPA Fuel Economy: 23/28/25 MPG – City/Highway/Combined
Seating: 5

Crash Test Safety Ratings: Overall highest possible five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the highest possible 2022 Top Safety pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Where Built: San Jose Chiapa, Mexico

Competes With:
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Genesis GV70
Infiniti QX55
Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe
Porsche Macan

Classy “Armani” like styling
Engaging to drive
Highest possible safety ratings

Some class competitors offer more cargo space
Porsche Macan and BMW X4 are more thrilling to drive.