Audi A5 Sportback (2016-2020) review
The Audi A5 Sportback is a stylish five-door coupe with room for a family of four and a lovely interior. It’s comfortable and easy to drive, but alternatives are more fun
What's not so good
Audi A5 Sportback (2016-2020): what would you like to read next?
If you’re after a stylish family car that has an expensive-feeling interior and space for four adults then the Audi A5 Sportback should be on your shortlist.
True, it might not be quite as fun on a country road as a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, but it’s so close you won’t really care – it has plenty of grip and doesn’t lean much in corners.
Whichever Audi A5 Sportback you choose, you get an interior that makes a similarly priced BMWs look a little bit dated. The Audi’s large infotainment screen means there are few conventional buttons, which shows off the A5’s excellent plastic quality, consistent gaps between trim pieces and expensive-looking finishes – in short, it makes you feel pretty good about life when you’re behind the wheel.
It’s just as well-built as the similar-size Audi A4 saloon, yet the A5’s driving position feels lower and sportier. A wide range of adjustment for the steering wheel and driver’s seat means you’ll find it easy to get comfy regardless of how tall or short you are.
That goes for your rear-seat passengers too, who get plenty of knee room and a decent amount of headroom – but things start to feel a little crushed if you stick three people back there.
The Audi A5 Sportback is an A4 saloon in lycra – it’s essentially the same car underneath, but the slinky body makes it look sportier
In town, the Audi A5 Sportback’s light controls make it easy to drive and its suspension is comfortable so long as you don’t go for the optional sportier setup. It’s even quiet on the motorway, which makes long journeys relaxing.
If you mostly drive on the motorway, it’s worth choosing the 190hp 2.0-litre diesel engine that’s quick but also very frugal on fuel. If you do shorter journeys and fancy something a bit more sporty, choose the quicker 252hp 2.0-litre petrol.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox is slick, but the optional seven-speed automatic takes the stress out of town drive. If you often drive on wet, slippery roads it’s worth considering the optional quattro four-wheel-drive system.
If it’s going to be carrying you and your family it’s good to know the Audi A5 Sportback was awarded five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP.
In fact, if you want a car that looks stylish, feels premium, is decent to drive and has space for the family – few cars fit the brief as well as the Audi A5 Sportback.
The Audi A5 Sportback is great for anyone in the front seats, it’ll take a couple of adults in the rear seats and the boot is easier to load than a saloon’s, but three in the back is a bit of a squeeze
There’s plenty of space in the front of the Audi A5 Sportback. All models come with a driver’s seat that adjusts for height and a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach, so even if you have long legs and short arms you should be able to get comfortable behind the wheel.
Upgrade from SE to Sport trim and you get sports seats with extra side bolstering to hold you in place during hard cornering. The seats are electrically adjustable, making it easier to make minor adjustments to your seating position, and also include lumbar adjustment to ease back ache on long journeys.
Further upgrades require a visit to the option’s list however, where you can get kit such as heated front and rear seats (£300) and electrically adjustable front seats with a memory function (£800). The latter option is handy if you share the car with someone else because the driver’s seat can glide back to your preferred position at the touch of a button.
Jump into the back of the Audi A5 Sportback and you’ll find the rear seat feels almost identical to the A4 saloon save for smaller windows that let in less light. In terms of space though, average-sized adults will have loads of knee room and a decent amount of headroom even if they sit up straight.
It’s not the best car if you’ll regularly carry three adults in the back though – the middle seat is narrow and high, and the large hump in the floor eats into foot room.
Mind you, fitting a child seat doesn’t cause a major headache. The rear doors give you decent access – especially compared to the two-door A5 – so it’s easy to get the base into place and the Isofix anchors are easy to see once you remove their plastic covers. Once it’s fitted, you shouldn’t have a problem slotting the seat on top.
The Audi A5 Sportback is as practical as an A4 saloon when it comes to interior storage. It has a large glovebox that’ll happily swallow a big bottle of water or two, massive door bins that’ll do the same and another smaller cubby under the steering wheel that can also tuck away a couple of smaller water bottles. The centre console has a couple of sunken cupholders that’ll keep your drinks from spilling even if you’re driving quickly and there’s a deep cubby hidden under the front centre armrest that includes a USB socket to charge your phone.
The Audi A5 Sportback has a 480-litre boot, which is the same size as the boot in the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe but quite a lot smaller than the Volkswagen Arteon’s 563-litre load bay. That said it has useful features such as a netted smaller cubby for keeping the boot tidy, tethers to strap your luggage to the floor and hooks for holding your shopping upright.
Surprisingly, the Audi A5 Sportback’s big boot lid means it’s actually easier to load than the A4 saloon’s boot and it opens electrically by holding a button on the remote control. Once opened, the boot has space for a baby buggy, a set of golf clubs or three suitcases.
The Audi A5 Sportback’s rear seats split 40:20:40 so you can carry a couple of people in the back and fold down the middle seat to let long luggage poke through into the passenger compartment.
Fold all the rear seats down and total boot capacity is 1,300 litres. While there’s a low load lip to negotiate when loading awkward items, the rear seats fold flat making it much easier to load something like a bike with both its wheels attached – not bad for a sporty coupe.
The Audi A5 Sportback is comfortable – so long as you avoid the Sports suspension – and has a great range of engines, but alternatives are more fun to drive
The Audi A5 Sportback is nicer to drive than the A4 saloon, but if you want a sporty feeling coupe you’re still better off getting the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe
The Audi A5 Sportback is available with a 2.0-litre diesel with 150 or 190hp, a 218hp 3.0-litre diesel or a 252hp 2.0-litre petrol – the latter two coming with a seven-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
The four-cylinder 190hp diesel is a great all-rounder. It gets from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds and has plenty of pace in reserve for quick overtakes on the motorway and A roads. It might not be quite as quiet or as smooth as the six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel, but the muffled clatter you get at low speeds isn’t too bad and it settles into the background on the motorway.
The 190hp engine’s party piece is its fuel economy, Audi reckons you’ll get 65mpg but 50mpg should be readily achievable in normal driving – that’s pretty good for such a punchy engine.
The 252hp petrol won’t get anywhere near that figure – expect it to return around 35mpg – but it’s freer revving and smoother than the diesel. It gets from 0-62mph in six seconds, so it’s quite a lot quicker as well as feeling sportier.
The Audi A5 Sportback is an enjoyable car to drive if not quite as outright fun as the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, but it has nicely weighted controls, grips well and has sharp steering that makes it feel agile in bends.
SE and Sport cars come with softer suspension that does a great job of absorbing bumps in the road but doesn’t allow excessive lean in bends.
S line models are firmer – too firm actually. If you want their sporty low-slung looks and big wheels but without the discomfort of the Sports suspension, it’s worth adding the £600 adaptive dampers. They have a comfort mode that’ll help take the edge off bumpy roads.
If you’re an enthusiastic driver, it’s also worth considering getting quattro four-wheel drive. It comes as standard on the 2.0-litre petrol and 3.0-litre diesel and is available with the 190hp 2.0-litre diesel (with an automatic gearbox) for £3,075. The pushing sensation it gives out of bends makes the Audi A5 Sportback feel sportier but on wet days you’ll also be thankful for the added traction – which means the A5 can lay all its power down without spinning its wheels.
If you drive a lot in town or want to take the stress of long journeys, it’s worth saving your clutch foot’s energy by opting for the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It’s a £1,530 option on the 2.0-litre diesel models and standard across the rest of the range. With it fitted the A5 changes gear extremely smoothly with only a little low-speed jerkiness spoiling the party.
Aside from this and the over-the-shoulder blind spot caused by the small rear windows, the Audi A5 Sportback is perfectly at home in town and all models come with front and rear parking sensors that make it much easier to squeeze into tight spaces.
It really belongs on the motorway, though, where it cruises quietly and should be safe thanks to a five-star Euro NCAP rating it secured in 2015. If you want to make it even safer, get the £1,250 Driver Assistance Pack. It adds adaptive cruise control that can slow the car when there’s a slower moving vehicle ahead, a traffic sign recognition system that can display roadside signs on the sat nav and lane assist that can gently steer the car in lane.
The old A5’s cabin wasn’t bad, but this new one takes it back to the head of the pack