► Audi's popular mid-size SUV gets a coupe version
► OLED rear lighting adds drama, low roof removes space - but not much
► Appearing in early 2021, with a LWB version for China
It made sense that the A4 split into the A5 when Audi needed to update its two-door coupe and convertible. It sort of made sense that the aspirational nature of a 4x4 tied the comparable Q SUV to the A5 rather than the A4. Then the A5 got a five-door hatchback model - the Sportback, making it slightly more practical than an A4 anyway.
It shouldn't be a surprise at this stage that the Q5 now has a Sportback version. We're still waiting for the two-door Q5 coupe and Cabriolet, though...
How many coupe-SUVs does Audi have now?
Three. That's including the e-Tron, which is fully electric, so the Q5 Sportback actually fits rather nicely into the range for buyers who simply must have a sloping back window. The other is the Q3 Sportback, which is arguably more attractive than the regular Q3 but does introduce the confusion of its A3 Sportback sibling not really being coupe-shaped..
One could also argue that the Q8 falls into this category, but it doesn't carry the Sportback name.
In exchange for a sloping rear window and more 'sporty' attitude, you get a 7mm increase in length for the 4.69 metre long SUV. That's the difference between sticking your number place on with tape or using screws with plastic caps, so you can be forgiven for not spotting it. Despite the optics, the height and width are unchanged - so there's little reduction in headroom. Spotting the Q5 Sportback from the front is made a little easier by a new honeycomb grille. What tou can't see is the 0.30 Cd - a useful reduction in drag.
Dimensions over a Q5 being fundamentally unchanged, the areas most likely to be impacted by the new bodystyle are still surprisingly practical. Boot space is 510 litres - increasing to 570 litres with the new optional sliding rear bench positioned fully-forward - and maximum capacity is 1480 litres.
That's a drop of 70 litres from the more upright Q5, itself one of the smaller options in this segment. 40 of those litres have been lost below the parcel shelf.
Curiously, this new layout does suggest the Q5 Sportback may be the more comfortable option for families with older children.
OLED lights - you choose the signature
New for the Q5 Sportback, Audi's pushing the boundaries of rear-lighting again - well, everyone's got some sort of scrolling indicator now (Ford USA had it in the '60s, but we'll ignore that for now). OLED, or organic light emitting diode, is more commonly associated with high-end TV and smartphone screens, but the benefits of strong, consistent illumination and addressable diodes have been translated into multi-segment taillights that can display several light signatures.
You can choose between three designs, apparently, when ordering the car - and an additional mode is provided for when the car's in Dynamic drive mode.
These lights also have another purpose; when the car is stationary, the proximity sensors use them to alert traffic behind when it's less than two metres away, illuminating all the segments. Following a Q5 Sportback in a traffic jam is going to be very entertaining.
At least the driver of the Q5 won't be short of entertainment - the Sportback gets the latest advances in Audi's intelligent adaptive cruise control, which uses cloud-sorced traffic data maps and road sign recognition to drive defensively and predict routes and speeds for better efficiency and average speeds and improves lane-keeping.
Which is good, because the little touch-pad on the console for controlling the infotainment has vanished from the latest version of MMI.
Based around MIB 3 (the modular infotainment system, not the film), the Q5 Sportback gets the same improvements made to the regular A5 and Q5's MMI - which means touchscreen interaction on the 10.1 inch central screen, voice control and handwriting recognition as well as connected services and smartphone integration. The Virtual Cockpit is the latest 12.3 inch display; much of the dashboard architecture and technology is shared with the Q5.
Any other sporty touches?
The suspension uses Audi's 'Sports' springs and setup rather than the standard Q5 arrangement, lowering the car by 15mm and sharpening responses. Otherwise the same pool of options exists - you can choose adaptive damping and coils, or air suspension for the best handling and ride quality - plus the ability to raise the car by 45mm for dirt roads, or lower the loading lip by 55mm for awkward loads. It also drops the car by 15mm at speed to improve stability and economy.
Dynamic steering is also an option, and though you can probably guess what the SQ5 Sportback will be like, we're still eager to see exactly what Audi's prepared for this GLC Coupe rival.
A more rakish Q5 - what's under the bonnet?
Predictably, the Q5 Sportback gets the engines from the Q5, which means a pair of four-cylinder, 2.0 litre options offering diesel or petrol, each with a choice of two power outputs. There's also a V6 diesel, and an SQ5 has been confirmed, though that will be a diesel for Europe and petrol for other markets.
There's no manual gearbox option, and there's one front-wheel drive model - the rest have quattro all-wheel drive (depending on.powertrain, either mechanical permanent or on-demand).
When will we see one?
If you're tired of the tall, practical hatchback Q5, you're going to have to wait a little longer to see some Q5 Sportbacks - it's set to arrive in early 2021.