£36,480 - £41,240 Price range
45 - 67 MPG
The Audi A5 Sportback is a four-door coupe with efficient engines and a class-leading interior that’s more or less shared with the superb Audi A4. Its closest rivals are the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes CLS.
Like most Audis, the interior takes build quality and design to a whole new level for the class. Like the A5 coupe, space in the back is okay for two but just short of being enough for three adults to sit comfortably for long periods of time. The addition of two extra doors makes entry and exit far more dignified compared to an A5 coupe, however, and you get 480 litres of luggage room – 15 litres more than the coupe.
The A5 Sportback, like the one before it, was never conceived to beat lap records or do huge powerslides, instead, it has a tremendous distance-covering ability. At motorway speeds, the cabin is quiet, the ride is perfectly judged and optional safety kit automatically ensures you’re alert, a safe distance from the car in front and centred in your lane. It might not be as exciting to drive as the BMW 4 Series but in a traffic jam steering full of feedback is as useful as trying to cross a rainforest in ballet slippers.
The 187hp 2.0-litre diesel is tipped to be the bestseller, thanks to its performance and efficiency. There’s also a hushed 187hp 2.0-litre petrol and a powerful 349hp 3.0-litre V6 petrol available. The best all-round performer, however, is the 3.0-litre V6 diesel, that in 282hp guise is nearly as quick as the S5 and nearly as efficient as the 2.0-litre diesel – it’s rather brilliant, actually. As always, Audi’s £1,600 optional S-Tronic automatic is highly recommended and all engines can be mated to quattro all-wheel drive.
Standard equipment is pretty generous with sat nav and a seven-inch infotainment display being the most noteworthy inclusions along with cruise and climate control. Audi’s excellent 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display is worth ticking on the options list – it replaces the traditional dials with a screen that includes car and route info.
The CLS and the 4 Series Gran Coupe seem dated next to the A5’s stylish, minimalist cabin. In keeping with the conservative exterior, the dashboard isn’t anything ground-breaking in terms of design, but every switch and button is beautifully made and feels expensive to the touch. The lack of button clutter means there’s an air of spaciousness inside and the overall mood can be fine-tuned by selecting one of the 30 colours from the optional ambient lighting system. However, as is the case with most Audis, the more money you throw at the options list the nicer it becomes.
Audi A5 Sportback infotainment
Audi’s MMI (along with BMW’s iDrive infotainment system) is regarded as the best in the business thanks to its intuitive controls and wealth of functions. In the A5 Sportback it’s yet another evolution of said system – it now has the operation speed and screen resolution to rival a laptop from a few years ago. All this power means quicker route calculations and snappier menu navigation through the 8.3-inch screen.
Audi A5 Sportback passenger space
Even though it might take a side-by-side comparison to distinguish old and new A5 Sportback, the latest model is actually wider, longer and lower than its predecessor. This means that now a six-foot passenger can sit behind a driver of a similar stature. However, headroom isn’t great, but that’s the price you pay for the stylish looks – for a more spacious back seat head on over to the A4.
Audi A5 Sportback storage areas
This isn’t an MPV, so obviously there’s less focus on storage – but the basics, like a couple of cupholders, are all there and present. Even here, Audi’s technological approach to everything is illustrated by the Audi phone box. It gets you a special area to put your smartphone where it gets charged wirelessly and (through some witchcraft) its signal also gets boosted by the car’s aerial. It’s a great extra for anyone who uses their phone a lot. That would be everyone then…
Audi A5 Sportback boot space
The increase in passenger space and overall proportions hasn’t affected the boot size because at 480 litres it remains the same capacity as in the old one. That’s no bad thing because it’s already quite spacious for the class, beating the Passat CC’s 452 litres and matching the BMW 4 Series GT’s capacity. It’s slightly behind the Mercedes CLS’s 520-litre boot, but to even things out, the A5 Sportback not only gets standard 60:40 split-folding rear seats, but also an electrical opening hatchback that is more practical than the saloon boot door of the CLS.
Ignore the ‘Sport’ in the name, because the A5 Sportback, just like its predecessor, makes the most sense if driven like a grand tourer. That isn’t to say that the engineers from Ingolstadt haven’t been busy – thanks to the use of the MLB Evo platform (underpinning the A4 and Q7 SUV) the new A5 Sportback weighs (depending on engine choice) up to 85kg less than its predecessor.
That means the new model is more agile than before and along some long sweeping bends there’s a tiny bit of enjoyment to be had behind the wheel. Increase the speed, though, and the Sportback is quickly out of its comfort zone with the front tyres scrabbling for grip with the car entering that all-too-predictable and, for some, boring spectacle that is understeer as it runs wide while cornering.
The A5 Sportback, then, makes more sense as a motorway companion. And it really does because there the lifeless, but direct, steering means few corrections are needed to keep it heading straight. That’s further helped by a plethora of safety systems, some standard, some optional that include turn assist, park assist, cross-traffic assist, exit warning, camera-based traffic sign recognition, Audi active lane assist and Audi side assist. You can also spec-up an adaptive cruise control, with traffic-jam assist, which can effectively drive the car for you at speeds of up to 40mph.
If you value ride comfort over handling prowess the A5 Sportback has the edge on rivals, especially if equipped with the optional adaptive dampers. Set them to Comfort mode and prepare to be impressed by the ride quality at a steady 70mph cruise. Flick the driving mode selector to Dynamic and the A5 Sportback becomes a very capable – if not hugely enjoyable – A to B missile.
You can’t criticise Audi for not giving you plenty of options, because the A5 can be had with two petrol engines, three diesels, three gearbox choices as well as offering a choice between front- or quattro four-wheel drive. And there are two versions – the big diesel gets the regular quattro system as standard, while quattro ultra, which is better on fuel, is optional on the rest of the range.
Audi A5 Sportback diesel engines
However, if you’re looking at the A5 Sportback as your new company car the choice is simple – the 187hp 2.0-litre diesel. It sees wide use across the Audi range and its blend of meaty power delivery and decent fuel economy is what impresses the most. Running costs haven’t been released for any of the engines yet, but the same 2.0-litre in the A5 Coupe can return up to 70mpg, and the slightly heavier Sportback shouldn’t be too far behind.
The larger 3.0-litre should comfortably return 50mpg whether it’s the lower-power 218hp or the full-fat 282hp version. In the latter, accelerating from 0-62mph takes 5.2 seconds and, in the real world where there’s traffic and speed limits, the high-end diesel isn’t that much slower than the range-topping 349hp S5 Sportback.
Audi A5 Sportback petrol engines
If you like the idea of a petrol-powered A5 Sportback, but the S5’s running costs are a bit much, the 2.0-litre alternative is quite good too. It packs a healthy 248hp and comes with quattro four-wheel drive as standard, so it doesn’t hang about off the line either – 0-62mph comes up in a hot-hatch baiting 6.0 seconds.
This is an area where a four-door coupe-saloon is hard to justify – an Audi A4 is more practical for a similar outlay. However, the head-turning looks of the A5 Sportback will most likely be enough of a reason for many buyers to choose it instead of an A4.
Audi A5 Sportback Sport
The mid-range Sport trim is more in-tune with the premium looks of the Sportback, because on top of the entry-level SE’s xenon headlights and three-zone climate control it adds electrically adjustable leather sports seats, sat-nav and a three-month trial of Audi’s connect services, which provides in-car internet.
Audi A5 Sportback S line
The S line trim brings the looks of the A5 Sportback very close to those of the performance-orientated S5. It’s the perfect compromise if you want your Audi to look sporty, but don’t need a powerful engine. The A5 Sportback gets an aggressive bodykit, 18-inch wheels, LED lights with scrolling indicators and Alcantara-suede details inside.
Seven years after the first A5 Sportback went into production, this new model is sharper, sleeker and will prove cheaper to run than its predecessor. Drawbacks remain such as the limited rear headroom and uninvolving driving experience, but seeing as the old model sold 340,000 examples globally, Audi was wise not to drastically change a formula that clearly works.
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