Mercedes-Benz GLC 2020 review
It's the C-Class of Mercedes-Benz's SUVs, that's right it's the GLC, and the new and improved one is here.
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The Audi Q5 now has a sportier-looking sibling, with the German brand's all-time best-selling SUV welcoming a sleeker, more aggressive solution it calls its Sportback range.
And look, spoiler alert, it looks better than the regular Q5. It's as simple as that. So if that's all you're here to find out, feel free to close the laptop, put the phone away, and move on with your day.
But you'd be doing yourself a disservice, because there are more questions to be answered here. Like will you paying in on-board comfort for this new raked roofline? Do the Sportback's sporty intentions make for a more annoying daily drive? And how much does Audi want you to pay for one?
All these questions and more answered. So stay with me.
Speaking of which, it looks bigger than a mid-size, too, as though the flattened roof has pushed the rear out for more length, at least visually.
By far its best angle, though, will be afforded to the people in front of you on the road, with each peek in the rear-view mirror revealing a wide, forward-leaning grille, all black honeycomb mesh, with a cat-clawed bonnet and headlights that sweep back into the bodywork, hinting at speed before it even sets off.
Side on, the massive 21-inch alloys hide red brake calipers, but it does also reveals a tale of two SUVs, with the front half looking taller and straighter, while the rear roofline is more raked as it flies towards a fairly small rear windscreen with a roof spoiler that juts out over it.
At the rear, the quad exhaust tips (which sound great), and a boot spoiler moulded into the bodywork complete the package.
But even in lesser lesser Q5 45 TFSI guise, this Sportback looks the business, I reckon. Though a little more premium than performance-focused, perhaps.
As the name suggests, the Sportback version gives you, well, a sportier back, and it all starts at the B-Pillar, with a more raked roofline that gives this version of the Q5 a sleeker, more slippery look.
The cabin is the usual level of Audi niceness, with a big central screen, big digital screen in front of the steering wheel, and a sense of genuine solidity and quality wherever you look.
There are some questionable materials at work, though, like the door trims and the hard plastic that your knee rubs against when driving, but all in all, it's quite a lovely place to spend time.
The Q5 Sportback range stretches 4689mm in length, 1893mm in width, and around 1660mm in height, depending on the variant. It rides on a 2824mm wheelbase.
And remember when I said there were few practicality penalties for the new sportier look? This is what I meant.
Up front, it's basically the same Q5, so if you know that car, you'll know this one, with its spacious and airy feeling front seats.
In the back, though, things are a little different, just not quite as different as I was expecting. The new sloping roofline has actually only reduced headroom by 16mm. I’m 175cm tall, and there was clear air between my head and the roof, and plenty of leg-room, too.
The central tunnel arrangement means you probably don’t want to squeeze three adults across the back, but two would really be no problem at all. That way, you can deploy the back seat divider to uncover two cupholders, use the two USB charge ports or adjust your climate controls, including temperature settings.
In the 45 TFSI and SQ5 models, the rear seats also slide or recline, meaning you can prioritise luggage space or passenger comfort, depending on what you're carrying.
Up front, there’s heaps of little cubby spots, including a key storage spot under the aircon controls, another in front of the gear shift, a phone slot next to the gear shift, two cupholders in the big centre console, and a surprisingly shallow centre console that’s home to a wireless phone charger and a USB port, joining the regular USB port under the drive mode selector.
And at the rear, Audi reckons there’s 500 litres of storage, only about 10 litres less than the regular Q5, which grows to 1470 litres with the second-row folded.
The three-model line-up (two regular Q5s and the SQ5) Sportback range kicks off with the Q5 40 Sportback TDI quattro, which will set you back $77,700 (which is plenty more than the $69,900 of the regular Q5).
The entry-level Q5 Sportback gets 20-inch alloys, a standard S Line sporty exterior styling treatment, LED headlights and tail lights, and an electric tailgate with gesture control. Inside, there’s leather trim, electric sport seats, three-zone climate, paddle-shifters for the steering wheel and ambient interior lighting.
The range then steps up to the Q5 45 Sportback TFSI quattro, yours for $86,300. That's another marked jump from its regular Q5 equivalent.
That model delivers a new 20-inch alloy wheel design, a panoramic sunroof, and Matrix LED headlights, The S Line treatment extends to the interior, along with Nappa leather trim, heated front seats and a sliding or reclining rear bench. You get a better sound system, too, with 10 speakers, including a sub-woofer.
Finally, the SQ5 Sportback is yours for $110,900 (up from $106,500), and delivers 21-inch alloys, adaptive dampers and red brake callipers, while inside you get electric steering adjustments, a head-up display, colour ambient lighting and a banging Bang and Olufsen stereo with 19 speakers.
There are three engines total here, kicking off with the 2.0-litre TDI in the Q5 Sportback 40. It produces 150kW and 400Nm - enough for a sprint to 100km/h in 7.6s. The 2.0-litre TFSI in the Q5 Sportback 45 petrol bumps those figures to 183kW and 370Nm, lowering your spring to 6.3s.
Both pair with a seven-speed S tiptronic automatic, and feature a 12-volt mild-hybrid system to smooth out acceleration and lower fuel use, as well Quattro ultra, which can disconnect the rear drive shaft so only the front wheels are driven.
The SQ5 gets a seriously lusty 3.0-litre TDI V6 which deliver 251kW and 700Nm, and a sprint of 5.1s It also gets a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, and an eight-speed tiptronic transmission.
All Q5 Sportback models are fitted with a 70-litre fuel tank, which should produce a driving range in excess of 1000kms - though prepare for pain at the pump. Sometimes premium fuel in Sydney can run to around $1,90 a litre, for example, so the good stuff will cost you around $130 bucks a tank in the petrol cars.
Audi says the Q5 Sportback 40 TDI will sip 5.4 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, while emitting 142g/km of c02. The 45 TFSI needs 8.0 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, and will emit 183g/km of c02. The SQ5 sits somewhere in the middle, with 7.1 litres per 100km and 186g/km of c02.
How to best describe the drive experience in the Q5 Sportback? That's easy. And it's 'easy'.
Honestly, I know this is ostensibly the sportier version of the Q5, but the truth is that, in the 45 TFSI version we tested, it's a comfortable, light-feeling drive experience that only ever reveals its sporty nature when you really command it to.
Left in its Auto drive mode, the Q5 45 TFSI will positively waft around town, road noise kept to an absolute minimum, and feeling somehow smaller and lighter than its dimension would suggest.
You can dial-up the aggression by cycling through the drive modes, of course, but even in Dynamic guise it never feels too harsh, too aggressive. More that you've simply tightened the screws a little bit.
Plant your right foot and the 45 TFSI will collect speed in a way that Audi refers to as "hot hatch-like", punching towards the 100km/h sprint with verve and aggression. But having just stepped out of the SQ5, it still feels somehow sedate, and almost relaxing, rather than out-and-out aggressive.
And that's because the SQ5 variant is clearly, purposefully, the performance-focused variant here. I think this V6 engine is an absolute peach, and its the kind of powerplant that inspires you to stick with the vehicle's most dynamic settings, putting up with the just-too-firm suspension settings so you can access more fo the grunt more quickly.
And it feels constantly ready for action. Tap the accelerator and the car bristles, dropping down a gear, revving higher and preparing for your next command.
Through bends, it feels smaller and lighter than you might expect, with plenty of grip and steering that, while not overflowing with feedback, feels true and direct.
Short answer? It's the one I'd take. But you'll pay for it.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Audi Q5 Sportback carries a five-star ANCAP safety rating thanks to the regular Q5, but that’s really the minimum cost of entry these days. So what else do you get?
Advanced driver-assist systems on offer here include autonomous emergency braking (with pedestrian detection), active lane-keep assist with lane change warning, driver attention assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, park assist, a great surround-view camera, parking sensors, exit warning and tyre pressure monitoring, and more radars than you can poke a stick at.
There's also twin ISOFIX anchor points, and top-tether points for child seats.
All Audis are covered by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which really isn’t great in a world of five-, seven- and even 10-year warranties.
The brand will let you prepay your services, required annually, for the first five years, with the regular Q5 Sportback billed at $3140 and the SQ5 billed at $3170.
Let’s forget the money, for a second, because yes, you’re paying more for the Sportback variant. But if you can afford it, then why wouldn’t you. This is a sleeker, sportier and more stylish answer to the regular Q5, which was already a super-solid offering in the segment. And as far as I can tell, the practicality sacrifices you have to make are minimal at best.
So why not?
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