2023 Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 Review : Coupé de théâtre

By Clifford Chow, 17 July 2023

2023 Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 Review : Coupé de théâtre

Singapore - The current Audi Q5 model range is definitely not new. It first appeared in 2017, and two years ago, it received a much-needed middle-of-life makeover. However, with rising COE prices causing the Junior Executive SUV and its Sportback sibling to climb to eye-watering prices, the idea of buying the Q5, much less its coupe-like sibling, became quite a difficult pill to swallow. 

Like many brands, Audi had their work cut out, needing to revisit some of the cars in their model lineup over the last few years. In their case, one of the best examples was the A3, which began life here with a 1.5 MHEV powertrain, and had 150hp; which meant that it needed a Category B COE, so it became quite unrealistic to own. A one-litre variant took its place as the “go-to” entry car. The story is quite similar for Volkswagen, with its lower-powered Golf, and BMW which have added the 216i Active Tourer to its model range, since the 218i variant would be significantly costlier.

2023 Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 40TFSI Singapore - Right side
2023 Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 40TFSI Singapore - Right side

Back to the Audi Q5, the car which is known elsewhere as the ‘45 TFSI’, was the only “bread and butter” variant initially offered. To soften the blow of high COE prices, Audi decided they would introduce a lower-powered version. So, here is the less powerful Q5 Sportback (40 TFSI), which costs approximately $20000 less. This is a familiar car to me, as I recently took its sibling, the Q5 40 TFSI SUV for a spin, over a distance of 2670km, through three countries, and I would go on to say that it is worth its salt as a road trip companion.

The last model refresh for the Q5 range gave the car a larger grille, accompanied with new bumper mouldings. At the rear, the tail lights have also been slightly tweaked, featuring OLED technology. Along with the design tweaks to the exterior, the biggest improvement to the cabin is the Modular Infotainment Platform (MIB 3) system. The MIB 3 is fronted by a larger 10.1-inch MMI touch display, to which Audi explains has ten-times the computing power over the previous MIB 2 system. Audi has also omitted the frosted glass touchpad located in-front of the gearshift lever, since the new screen is touch-sensitive. But while Audi’s shiny new infotainment system does not pop like the ones in the new Mercedes-Benz GLC or BMW X3, it is notably quicker than the older MIB 2 system, this is especially more evident when doing searches over the SatNav.

The driver enjoys a larger 12.3-inch HD digital display, which provides the choice of three different graphic layouts. And to keep mobile devices charged, there is a nifty sliding wireless charging tray, which “floats” just below the lid to the centre console compartment. 

As it is the “coupe” version of the SUV, the Sportback’s sloping roofline does moderately reduce headroom at the rear. However, even with my height of 172cm, I still have no issues with contacting the roof lining. With the sloping roof, the bit of boot space above the window line has also been reduced. However for where cargo usually lives, the Q5 Sportback boasts an official boot capacity of 505 litres, which is identical to the SUV. This is 20 litres short of the competing BMW X4. Loading and unloading is easy, thanks to the flat floor, and the lack of oddly-shaped corners. 

Though its in-car tech might seem slightly dated when placed beside its other German counterparts, the Q5 Sportback does hold its own with its bulletproof build quality both inside and out.

2023 Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 40TFSI Singapore - Engine cover
2023 Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 40TFSI Singapore - Engine cover

Under the bonnet, the detuned 2.0-litre turbocharged engine puts out 204hp and 320Nm (versus what was originally 249hp and 370Nm). While less, it still delivers more than the base BMW X4 xDrive20i, which makes do with 184hp and 300Nm. Throttle response here is sharp, and the keen engine is matched by the eagerness of the 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission, with its lightning-quick gear changes. The only drawback with the double-clutcher, are some jerks which are inherent for these types of transmissions, when swimming in slow traffic. For our road conditions, the 2.0-litre delivers sufficiently, and I am glad that it hardly ever feels flat. And where needed, it has enough grunt for overtaking manoeuvres.

As with the 249hp Q5, the 204hp car boasts improved fuel efficiency, thanks to a Mild-Hybrid system. But unlike the 48V system found on the BMW X4 and likewise, most other makes with MHEV architecture, the Q5’s 12-volt system is unable to provide a small boost, when under heavier throttle loads. However, it still shuts off, and allows you to coast, when you are off the accelerator pedal. Audi claims a combined 14.7km/l, which is not too far from my figure of 14.5km/l.

(Check out Jay’s review of the go-faster Audi SQ5 Sportback here)

2023 Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 40TFSI Singapore - Driven
2023 Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 40TFSI Singapore - Driven

Unfortunately, the Sportback I am driving here is not equipped with the available adaptive air suspension, which does three things; it tightens the handling, significantly reducing the Coupe-SUVs boat-like tendencies around corners, and on slower drives, rewards you with a plusher ride. The third advantage is easier loading and unloading of heavy items, since you can drop the rear suspension with a push of a button in the boot. Still, the Sportback’s suspension does a decent-enough job of keeping the Coupe-SUV composed.

2023 Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 40TFSI Singapore - Driven
2023 Audi Q5 Sportback 2.0 40TFSI Singapore - Driven

Yes, I know that some would be thinking “can tune one”. But I feel that even with 204hp the Q5 Sportback performs sufficiently well.

Offered at a list price of $23000* less than the 249hp car, the 204hp car will still be easily above $300k*. If you are not one who needs to be vain, I simply feel that it is good enough to go for the SUV… perhaps just opt for some fancier rims - that is if you feel the need to play “dress up”.

*correct at time of publication

TEXT & PHOTOS Clifford Chow, ROLLIES Jay Tee

Audi Q5 Sportback 40 TFSI quattro S tronic 150 kW MHEV

Engine 1984cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power/rpm 204hp/4,475-6,000rpm
Torque/rpm 320Nm/1,450-4,475rpm
Transmission 7spd S Tronic dual-clutch
0-100km/h 7.3secs
Top Speed 223km/h
Fuel Consumption 6.8l/100km

Related Articles