What We Like and Dislike About The 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Performance
Great interior
Comfort and ride
Stereo quality
Sounds good inside and out
360 camera system
Fake exhausts
Cost

What’s In The 2021 Audi Q5 Range?

There are four Q5 specs available in New Zealand, starting with the $93,900 150kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbodiesel 40 TDI, with the higher-spec 40 TDI S-line TDI costing $10k more. The 45 TFSI S-Line is $108,900, with a 183kW/370Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine.

And finally, we have the current range-topping SQ5 TDI, with a rather meaty 251kW of power and 700Nm of torque, priced at $137,500.

There’s a choice of standard Q5 or Sportback shapes, with the Sportback having more of a tapered coupe-like rear. The Sportback costs around $3000 extra over the standard hatch.

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Standard Equipment Highlights

  • MHEV technology – belt-driven generator
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Anti theft alarm system
  • Front airbags for driver and passenger, with front passenger airbag deactivation
  • Side airbags, front and rear
  • Head airbags
  • 360 degree camera
  • Parking Aid Front and Rear with Park Assist
  • Lane Change Warning
  • Audi Pre-Sense Rear
  • Rear Cross Traffic Assist
  • Exit Warning
  • Collision avoidance assist
  • Turn assist
  • Audi pre-sense city
  • Audi Active Lane Assist
  • Cruise Control – adaptive with automatic distance control with distance indicator, stop and go function
  • Headlights – LED Matrix with dynamic light design and dynamic turn signal
  • 21″ alloys in 5-V-spoke style, anthracite black, diamond turned, Audi Sport
  • Air suspension with electronic shock absorption control – S Model
  • Exterior mirrors, electrically adjustable, heated, memory function, folding, auto dimming
  • Tailgate – electrically opening and closing
  • Electric front seats with memory function for driver’s seat and power lumbar support
  • Leather upholstery – Fine nappa leather with diamond pattern
  • Ambient lighting package – including 3 predefined colour profiles. LED lighting for cupholders, centre console, footwells, door pockets, door lighting.
  • Automatic air conditioning – three zone

There are some interesting options if you want to individualise your SQ5, including:

  • Three different OLED tail light signatures $3,300
  • Panoramic sunroof $4,200
  • Sports differential $3,800
  • Black gloss styling package $1,500
  • Pneumatic lumbar support with massage function for front seats $1,500
  • Bang & Olufsen Sound System $2,000
  • Climate-controlled cup holder $450
  • Heated steering wheel $950

There are nine colours available on the SQ5 – two blues, the rather excellent District Green, and several shades of grey and silver.

For a full list of specs and options available for the Audi SQ5 Sportback jump on over to the Audi New Zealand website.

How Does The 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Compare To Its Competition?

Make/ ModelEnginePower
Torque kW/Nm
SeatsFuel L/100kmTowingBoot
Space
litres
Price
BMW X5 M50D3.0-litre 6-cylinder quad-turbo diesel294/76057.72700645$185,900
Porsche Cayenne S3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol324/550511.93700745$177,900
Range Rover Sport D350 HSE Dynamic3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel257/7008.23500780$167,900
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol375/600510.2N/A525$144,990
Audi SQ5 Sportback3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel251/70057.02400510$140,500
Mercedes-AMG GLC433.0-litre V6 turbo petrol287/520510.42000550$136,800
BMW x5 M30D3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbo diesel195/62057.22700645$126,900
Volkswagen Touareg TDI V6 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel170/50056.83500810$99,990

First Impressions Of The 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback

It doesn’t really come across in the photos, but the SQ5 has a presence. It’s a big car and stands out particularly well in the Ultra Blue of our review car. This car gets noticed. Somehow Audi’s huge grille works without being offensive, though interestingly the bottom third of the main grille is just for looks and is a solid piece. If it was my car I’d definitely spec the $1500 black exterior pack and make it a little more understated. 

The Sportback shape gives a more raked, coupe-like shape at the rear, making the overall shape less similar to most other SUVs out there. I rather like it. It gives the SQ5 a more sporty stance, as though it’s crouched and ready to leap forward.

But I have one big issue with the exterior of the SQ5, and that is the fake exhaust tips. With the car being diesel-powered, the real exhausts are tucked underneath pointing downwards – we obviously don’t want any hint of diesel fumes kicking out of the back. But why add fakes? A non-car person will barely notice them. A car person will notice they’re 3cm deep and roll their eyes. For me I’d rather have a nicely designed rear bumper or diffuser than totally non-functional trim pieces.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback?

Mmm, that new Audi smell! High-spec new Audis have a particularly pleasant aroma, a combination of newness and nappa leather, and the SQ5 definitely satisfies in that area. The doors feel heavy and solid – a little too heavy as you have to give them a fair slam to close them properly. All of my family had the same issue, having to re-open and close doors several times. But that’s also part of the feeling of quality in this car. The interior of the SQ5 is just… nice. Everything feels solid and convincing.

The steering wheel is Audi’s standard S-Line wheel with controls for stereo and adjusting the Virtual Cockpit driver’s display. The Virtual Cockpit is great. Adjustable between various different themes, clear and well laid-out. There’s a heads-up display too, which is less configurable but is clear and easy to use.

The central touchscreen is high-up and has the tacked-on iPad look. It too has excellent clarity and resolution. The standard Audi sound system is very good, with great bass helped by a subwoofer in the middle of the spare wheel. Audiophiles can specify a Bang & Olufsen Sound System for an extra $2000.

The dash is reasonably plain, and there are proper knobs with inset temperature displays for aircon controls. Aircon is dual-zone in the front with a third zone for rear-seat passengers. There are physical buttons for commonly-used functions. The drive mode select button is as far from the driver as it could be – which I found irritating, and I’m assuming it’s a hangover from the car being designed as left-hand drive. The passenger side of the centre console has a volume and track-skip knob – always useful. There’s a small lighted cubby in the centre next to the USB and power sockets, and a little cubby above the gear shifter with a pop-up cover, which feels like it would have contained an ashtray in olden times. The shifter is Audi Sport’s standard perforated leather-wrapped item and it’s nice and chunky and easy to use.

Behind that is a good-sized centre storage cubby and two cup-holders. The Qi wireless phone charger pad is there too and can slide out of sight if needed. The (heated) front seats look fantastic in nappa leather with diamond patterns stitched into them. They have good side bolsters to hold you when you’re towing that boat down the twisties. They are comfortable but a little on the firm side for my taste.

Rear seats are similar in look and feel, and there’s plenty of legroom. The rear seat backs can be adjusted for angle, and slid back and forth to balance leg-room and load space. They’re split 40/20/40 for extra flexibility. Rear passengers get their own climate controls as well as two USB ports.

The boot is a pretty generous 510 litres – slightly smaller than the Q5, presumably due to the SQ5’s larger fuel tank. Drop the seats and it expands to 1,520 litres. There are side cubbies with nets, and bag hooks. Opening the electric boot is made easier with the kick-to-open function. The SQ5 has height-adjustable suspension, with a button in the boot to make the car squat lower at the rear for easier access. Pretty cool.

What’s The 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Like To Drive?

First impressions: the SQ5 feels big, and it wants to go fast. That’s the driving experience around town – and it immediately gives you an understanding of why drivers of cars like this have the reputation they do. You’re looking down on other drivers, and you can go a lot faster than them. Why are they in your way? It feels luxurious, but indestructible. But anyway, enough reinforcing of stereotypes. 

There are the usual Audi drive modes: Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual. Efficiency, as you would expect, softens the throttle and forces you to accelerate at a less sporty rate, Comfort is the normal default mode and gives a great balance for everyday driving. The electronically-controlled air suspension is comfortable and softens the bumps well. The cabin when cruising is very quiet, with road and engine noise very well damped. This is definitely a luxurious SUV. But put your foot down more than a little, at any time or speed, and the SQ5’s turbo diesel V6 roars enthusiastically, making the two-tonne car leap forward with surprising agility. 

Then there’s Dynamic mode, where everything is turned up and tightened up. And you might be thinking “How quick can a large SUV feel?”. Well, 700Nm of torque and 251kW can persuade even something of this bulk to get up and really move! The quattro system allows up to 70% of power to go to the front, or 85% to the rear when needed, to ensure that you have physics-defying levels of grip. In my notes I wrote “indecently fast”, and I think that sums up the SQ5 well. It’s a big, comfortable, luxury SUV which has that Audi S-car trait of being able to eat up and spit out any road you point it at, with brutal German efficiency. Like the E-tron GT, or even the S3, it is way faster than you will ever need, and way faster than New Zealand roads require. But there’s satisfaction in that excess, and in piloting this beast along a twisty road. If only these other lesser-powered vehicles would get out of your way!

Despite its size and weight, the SQ5 handles well, with the electronically controlled air suspension handling the bulk, and allowing precise steering and road positioning. And the brakes are huge, and are very convincing in use.

In day-to-day use, the SQ5 is practical and usable. Around town it feels big, but the sensors and 360-degree camera system are excellent and really help with tight gaps and those tricky city-centre car parking manoeuvres. It will park itself of course, if you choose to let it.

In traffic, the radar cruise works well, and is smooth and well-programmed. Steering assist suffers from the same problem as other cars in New Zealand with our somewhat inconsistent road markings. 

In the week I had the SQ5, it was used mostly for shorter journeys, with a few highway kilometres. Over a total of 400km, my fuel usage was 8.9l/100km. Higher than Audi’s quoted combined figure of 7.0, but with a bit more highway and a little less demonstration of the full power of this battle station, I’m sure that could be achieved.

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback Specifications

Vehicle TypeMedium Sports SUV
Starting Price$140,500
Price as Tested$140,500
Engine24-valve V6 turbo-diesel
Power, Torque
kW/Nm
251/700
Transmission8-speed tiptronic
Spare WheelCollapsible spare wheel
Kerb Weight, Kg1985
Length x Width x Height, mm4689 x 1893 x 1635
Cargo Capacity, Litres
(seats up/seats down)
510/1,510
Fuel tank capacity,
litres
70
Fuel Economy,
L/100km
Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.0
Real-World Test – Combined – 8.9
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
750/2400
Turning circle, metres11.8
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
 WarrantyAudi Warranty – 5 years / 150,000 kms
Audi Roadside Assist – 5 years / 150,000 kms
Audi Motoring Plan – 3 years / 150,000 kms
Galvanised Body – Twelve Year Anti-Corrosion Warranty
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars – Link (2017 model)
Rightcar.govt.nz – 5 Stars – NNB754
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Economy
7
Handling
8
Infotainment
8
Interior
9
Performance
9
Ride
9
Safety
8
Styling
8
Value
7
Driver Technology
8
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I love everything about cars! Driving, looking at them, modifying. It's great to see what people do with cars, the different car cultures. If I was rich, my garage would be bigger than my house!
As a daily driver, the SQ5 probably has more than you need. Power, size, luxury. It’s all a little bit excessive. But sometimes too much of a good thing is in itself, a good thing. And that’s the SQ5. The SQ5 is comfortable, refined and quiet inside, with plenty of space for your family, for that weekend getaway. And when you need to get somewhere fast, or tow something heavy, it has you covered. This is probably one of the last big, diesel-powered SUVs that Audi will produce before going full-electric. So if you want as much usable power and torque as most EVs, and love that V6 diesel sound, or you need the convenience of 700+km range, then this could be the SUV for you.2021-audi-sq5-sportback-car-review

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