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Audi Q5 Sportback long-term test: the six-month verdict

Published: 17 June 2022 Updated: 17 June 2022

► CAR lives with an Audi Q5 Sportback
► Slick and well-equipped crossover
► How will Anthony fare with it?

It wasn’t all that long ago that CAR was inundated by a letter from Disgruntled of Penge who complained I was using Our Cars reports to let you all know what the other members of my family thought of the current incumbent.

A motoring writer having the temerity to differentiate between a first drive and a long-term report by actually including the views of other regular users of the car…?

So, by way of a slightly tearful goodbye to this much enjoyed jalopy, here are the carefully considered views of every resident of ff-C Towers on life with a Q5…

The missus loves the Audi. For her it cuts exactly the right dash among the Mudfordshire set. She relishes a specification that obviates the requirement to spend five minutes switching stuff off every time she climbs aboard, and delights in analogue air-con controls which, with the turn of a dial, may be instantly harmonised with her own thermostat.

A car nut, the elder hooligan finds the rear seats more comfortable than those up front for longer journeys, though claims the rear climate controls ‘don’t really do anything.’ He thinks the Bang & Olufsen sound system is sensational. Bluetooth pairing takes longer than it should and is far too hard to find within the screen menus. And the powered tailgate is very sensitive to obstructions.

The younger hooligan enjoys a heated front seat, but is unhappy with the B&O sound astern. This may have quite a bit to do with the fact that he never takes his earphones out…

The evil-smelling dog has so little interest in passing panoramas that the rear screen is spared slobber, and is grateful for a carpeted loadspace which cuts down on scrabbling during hard cornering. The punishment for the latter is, however, sufficiently noxious to leave other occupants somewhat lacking in gratitude.

The cat shows no interest in the Audi other than the occasional disdainful sniff of a front bumper. The Q5’s ground clearance does, though, create an agreeably spacious loggia within which to toy with lightly killed mice.

Me? All of the above. Well, except the mouse thing. I love the fact that the Q5 properly takes off when you put your foot down, and hate the all too frequent cost of adding another 500 miles at the pumps.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: Audi Q5 Sportback 45 TFSI S line

Price £49,990 (£55,235 (as tested)
Performance 1984cc turbocharged four-cylinder, 261bhp, 6.1sec 0-62mph, 149mph
Efficiency 32.5mpg (official), 28.8mpg (tested), 197g/km CO2
Energy cost 24.7 per mile
Miles this month 771
Total miles 7375

Month 5 living with a Q5 Sportback: battle of the bulge

Inadvertently kicking wide the door of the Old Jokes Home, the missus has made an admission: ‘I love it,’ she says of the Audi. ‘I just can’t park it.’

Truth is – as evinced by the constant tussle we both have with threading it into, and out of, our diminutive driveway without demolishing the petite porch en route – the Q5 is far larger than it feels from behind the wheel.

That’s probably a compliment to the painstaking engineering lavished on making it pleasingly agile for such a large chunk of tin. However, even though the high driving position gives a good view ahead, it doesn’t equate to a clear grasp of where the corners are.

Especially after dark. Already fugged by the grime associated with any lens not blessed with a badge that lends itself to pop-up concealment, the rear camera is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard. Moreover, reinforcing my belief that all car designers live under urban floodlighting, the reversing light would not exactly constitute my first port of call when seeking to illuminate an emergency appendectomy.

In this coruscatingly bright LED age, why the hell can’t we have what is effectively a wide-beam rear headlamp?

Mercifully, forward visibility is considerably better. Or, at least, it was until the screenwash ran out on me halfway down a sodden M5. That’s the trouble with a system that blasts great gouts of the reservoir at the headlamps every time you instigate a quick squirt just to clear the windscreen.

Should not the former be switchable rather than compulsory? And shouldn’t said switch also activate a gnat’s-pee jet to simultaneously clean the camera lens?

Lob in the fact that, long after the driver’s side is clear, the passenger-side wiper is always still a drop or two short of enough water to properly cut through the grime, and the only way the Q5 might be equipped with a reservoir large enough to slake its relentless thirst is through towing a bowser…

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: Audi Q5 Sportback 45 TFSI S line

Price £49,990 (£55,235 (as tested)
Performance 1984cc turbo four-cylinder, 261bhp, 6.1sec 0-62mph, 149mph
Efficiency 32.5mpg (official), 29.0mpg (tested), 197g/km CO2
Energy cost 24.0p per mile
Miles this month 1101
Total miles 6604

Month 4 living with a Q5 Sportback: the regular haunts

The Office
Granted it’s only two miles from home, but every inch of the way slopes like the South Col. Besides, I had that bicycle refurbished for the elder’s university farrago, not for myself.

Caffeine and Machine
Grail status for the elder, particularly when he was learning to drive. Whimpering in the footwell, I suddenly realised that He-Man Dual Controls were an excellent idea after all.

The Cheese Shop
‘I don’t care how f***ing runny it is…’ Actually, with the vacherin season in full swing I very much do. Is it just me, or does a surfeit of cheese for supper give you appalling nightmares?

The Supermarket
Already right up there with a verruca on the scale of fun to 10, the weekly shop’s been further enlivened recently by the Soviet-supermarket sensation of shelf emptiness. Good car wash, though.

The School
Shouldn’t be listed here at all, but the younger’s brinkmanship has an uncanny knack of finding him yawning at the stop when the bus is already a smoking dot in the distance.

The Vet
Amazing the reasons two animals can come up with for a visit to the vet. The evil-smelling dog loves it. Getting the cat there? Easier to post cooked spaghetti up its backside…

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: Audi Q5 Sportback 45 TFSI S line

Price £49,990 (as tested £55,235)
Performance 1984cc turbo four-cylinder, 261bhp, 6.1sec 0-62mph, 149mph
Efficiency 32.5mpg (official), 29.9mpg (tested), 197g/km CO2
Energy cost 25.0p per mile
Miles this month 702
Total miles 5503

Month 3 living with a Q5 Sportback: read the manual

My father was a 6ft 4in beanpole. My mother isn’t. And guess whose short, fat, hairy legs I inherited?

The missus, on the other hand, has legs so long that – after an appropriate period of bunching and lunching – I recall a diary entry in which I wrote: ‘Day 3, and still no sight of the inner thigh…’ So how come she sits closer to the helm than me?

This is significant not because it constitutes much of a chore to tackle the Q5’s all-manual seat adjustment (particularly since the back is moved via a turny knob rather than an irritatingly imprecise lever), but because I don’t find the driver’s seat base a comfortable place to be for any length of time.

I’ve spent three months cursing it for being so acutely angled that the front bolster places undue pressure on the backs of my legs, and for the fact that it cannot be tilted to a flatter attitude. And I’ve spent three months envying my wife for having legs so long that, concertina’d behind the wheel like a praying mantis, her thighs don’t come into contact with the front of the seat at all.
And then… I noticed a small adjustment paddle buried away at the front of the seat. Oh FFS…

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: Audi Q5 Sportback 45 TFSI S line

Price £49,990 (as tested £55,235)
Performance 1984cc turbo four-cylinder, 261bhp, 6.1sec 0-62mph, 149mph
Efficiency 32.5mpg (official), 30.1mpg (tested), 197g/km CO2
Energy cost 20.3p per mile
Miles this month 1558
Total miles 4801

Month 2 living with a Q5 Sportback: happy day

The Sportback has been seriously spanking the map this month. And, boxing the compass in the interest of diverse weddings, we’ve learned three important things.

Firstly, an hotel stands or falls on the quality of its breakfast; so don’t serve a fried egg unless you’ve cooked off the baby snot around the yolk, and stop dishing out semi-raw back bacon with a rind like biltong. Secondly, weddings go on for far too long these days; if you’re not of the ‘How small do you like your talk?’ persuasion, each shouty two-hour pause between events of significance will leave you stamping your foot and muttering ‘Sesame’ through gritted teeth.

And thirdly, no matter how cavernous the boot of any ff-C car, one large suitcase will always end up between the hooligans in the back seat in order that the evil-smelling dog can lord it over the loadspace. Happily, the application of sport to the back of the Q5 hasn’t restricted headroom sufficiently to cramp the canine cranium. Unhappily, over-zealous cornering is invariably accompanied by the most odious emissions imaginable, and subsequent minutes spent at ramming speed with all four windows wide open.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: Audi Q5 Sportback 45 TFSI S line

Price £49,990 (as tested £55,235)
Performance 1984cc turbo four-cyl, 261bhp, 6.1sec 0-62mph, 149mph
Efficiency 32.5mpg (official), 29.4mpg (tested), 197g/km CO2
Energy cost 20.6p per mile
Miles this month 1661
Total miles 3243

Month 1 living with a Q5 Sportback: hello and welcome

This is basically a new version of Audi’s hugely popular mid-sized SUV involving the payment of a little bit more for a little bit less. The little bit more is about £2500 for the lazier tailgate attitude that begets the Sportback moniker, and the little bit less is the resultant loss of some 40 litres of luggage space. As Basil Fawlty once told Sybil: ‘You wouldn’t understand dear; it’s called style.’

Dubious marketing dealt with, I can also reveal that this particular specimen is a first-class example of how to specify a car for a missus short on sleep yet impressively long on the expletives attendant to the hot fidgety fuss of screen menu wading in the interests of being left entirely alone by a car. At all times.

Nanny-free Nirvana is reached almost instantaneously with the discovery that there’s no need to keep switching off the lane-keeping assistant, and no over-keen reversing alert attempting to rip the head clean off our shoulders every time we back out of the drive through the clematis…

Indeed, after so many months of being over-supervised by the Skoda Octavia, the Q5 is proving so free of undesirable frills that I still can’t quite get my head round the fact that all I have to do is get in, get rid of Radio 1, and get going.

A lack of irritants rating at least 9.5 on the Scottish Midge Scale should not, however, be mistaken for a lack of toys. You’d expect something costing just an Ayrton short of 50 grand to be fairly comprehensively kitted out, and it is; an additional £5000-odd on the asking price here adding a few worthwhile items, and some I can’t fathom at all:

Matrix LED headlamps powerful enough to grill sardines are a £1000 must, as is the £1400 Comfort and Sound pack, which includes heated front seats and a B&O sound system. The ‘rear bench seat plus’ for £350 alludes to the ability to slide the base to and fro – essential now that both hooligans have topped six feet.

Acoustic front door glass seems like a good idea for just £175, but how a £200 ‘comfort centre armrest’ differs from the norm, and why every net unexcitingly listed in the £225 Storage pack isn’t standard fare are both beyond me. I’m not sure much is to be gained on the ride quality front by upping the wheel diameter to 20in for £1000, and the thought of a puncture requiring the deployment of a £200 ‘collapsible spare wheel’ fills me with dread.

A far more engaging prospect is the promise of 261bhp delivered by yet another iteration of the VW Group’s 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol workhorse, especially when partnered with that relentlessly oleaginous seven-speed DSG gearbox and mated to all-wheel drive. The only downside is, of course, the threat of an average fuel consumption figure about half that of the departed Octavia. But at least we won’t be slithering about on the oily bit of the forecourt.

By Anthony french-Constant

Logbook: Audi Q5 Sportback 45 TFSI S line

Price £49,990 (as tested £55,235)
Performance 1984cc turbo four-cyl, 261bhp, 6.1sec 0-62mph, 149mph
Efficiency 32.5mpg (official), 27.2mpg (tested), 197/km CO2
Energy cost 23.6p per mile
Miles this month 346
Total miles 1582

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Contributing editor, architect, sentence constructor, amuse bouche