Audi’s magnificent A5 lineup goes family-friendly with the launch of the seriously stylish five-door hatchback version called the Audi A5 Sportback.
And once again the Ingolstadt, Germany manufacturer has shown some savvy product planning – clever execution of a clever concept…all with the expected Audi attributes.
Audi A5 Sportback What You Get
The Audi A5 Sportback is available in three model grades. Entry level is the 2.0-litreTFSI petrol ($78,400) and the range-topper is the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol S5 ($129,300). Car Showroom tested the only diesel Audi A5 Sportback – the 3.0TDI which is stickered at $89,100.
Like the smaller Audi A3 Sportback, the A5 model seeks to deliver high performance sedan/coupe dynamics with family-friendly hatchback practicality. The Audi A5 Sportback rounds-out the A5 range, which also includes the A5 Coupe and A5 Cabriolet.
Good as the A3 Sportback is, the larger size of the Audi A5 Sportback affords extra space for luggage and second-row occupants who sit comfortably in two individual, sculptured seats.
Toss-in the larger, upscale BMW 5-Series GT and this German ‘Sportback’ segment is getting busy – incidentally, they’re all stunners in the looks department.
As you would expect, the Audi A5 Sportback backs-up its glorious looks with the usual standout Audi luxury and technology. In fact the Audi A5 Sportback is actually quite a bargain.
Audi A5 Sportback Engine
Audi’s 3.0-litre, common-rail, direct injection, variable geometry, turbo-diesel engine isn’t the newest European diesel, but it’s still mightily impressive. In the Audi A5 Sportback - paired with Audi’s superb twin-clutch seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission - delivery of its 176kW/500Nm is sublimely refined.
Zero to 100 km/h takes just 6.1 seconds and under hard acceleration - with those lightening-fast gear changes - memories of Audi’s diesel-powered Le Mans 24-Hour racers spring to mind. Audi says the combined cycle fuel consumption is just 6.6l/100kms and exhaust emissions are rated at 174g/km.
Audi A5 Sportback The Interior
The idea for the Audi A5 Sportback (and the BMW 5-Series GT) is to combine a high performance coupe/sedan with hatchback convenience. In the case of the Audi A5 Sportback this has been achieved with a massive 980-litres of luggage space with the rear seats folded flat (480-litres with the seats in place).
Typically Audi, even the detail of the luggage compartment in the Audi A5 Sportback is impressive – a low, stainless steel protective strip for the one-metre wide hatchback opening, a high-tech two-piece security cover and clever luggage hooks. You can even order an optional two-sided reversible mat for the luggage area – one side is velour while the other is rubberized and intended for dirty objects like sporting equipment.
Otherwise the Audi A5 Sportback features the usual standout Audio interior – starting with beautiful ‘Milano’ or ‘Valcona’ leather in combinations of black, pale grey, lunar silver, cinnamon or cardamon beige.
With electronic adjustment (including lumbar support) for the driver and front passenger seats plus height/reach adjustment for Audi’s three-spoke leather steering wheel - with superb paddle shifters for the transmission - the driving position in the Audi A5 Sportback is top-shelf. Sports front seats and even ventilated front seats are optional.
Instruments are Audi’s normal conventional layout with nice chrome trim for the teardrop-shaped gauges.
The center console houses the three-zone climate-control air-conditioning and 6.5-inch colour screen for the single CD, 10-speaker audio system which is compatible for iPods and USB players. A 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen system is a $1,600 option.
Accommodation for occupants of the two individual second-row seats is impressively spacious.
Audi A5 Sportback Exterior & Styling
For style and on-road presence, the Audi A5 Sportback ranks amongst the top three cars we tested in 2010. Combining elegance with sporty/performance car looks takes some doing, but Audi’s stylists have delivered with an overall package for the Audi A5 Sportback which, at 4,711mm, is surprisingly shorter (36mm) than the Audi A4 sedan.
At the front, the hallmark four-rings are in a single-frame grille which leads to a powerful V-contour in the bonnet. Inside the wide Xenon plus headlights are chrome struts which separate the individual light chambers – an unusual feature.
From the side, the view is dominated by the hallmark Audi proportions (one-third glass, two-thirds metal) and a long, sloping C-pillar with narrow third side windows – all very elegant and accentuated by the stylish 18-inch alloy wheels fitted to the 3.0 TDI version of the Audi A5 Sportback we tested.
And the rear features the large hatchback lid with a lip spoiler plus the latest-look tapering taillights with distinctive ring-like light patterns and the 24-LED high-mounted stoplight.
Typically Audi, all of this has been painstakingly wind-tunnel tested (including the paneled underbody) and – combined with precision gaps and outstanding build quality - the drag co-efficient of the Audi A5 Sportback is just 0.29.
Audi A5 Sportback On The Road
Any vehicle with the Audi four-ring badge isn’t going to disappoint in the driving department – that’s non-negotiable with this brand. Not surprisingly the Audi A5 Sportback emerged from our high-speed mountain roads test route with a performance that ranked amongst the best.
In fact the Audi A5 Sportback - with its Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system and complex multi-link front/trapezoidal link rear suspension system - delivered chassis balance so impressive it left its 176kW/500Nm, 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel in its wake. We got the impression the Audi A5 Sportback could easily handle Audi’s 4.2-litre V8 engine.
With typically taut Audi suspension calibration and those glorious 18-inch alloy wheels, the Audi A5 Sportback was Audi at its sporty best – perhaps a little too firm for some, but ideal for enthusiast drivers.
We loved the matching of the six-cylinder turbo-diesel to Audi’s excellent seven-speed twin-clutch S tronic transmission. With 500Nm of torque available from as low as 1500rpm, you didn’t really need to shift gars manually to keep the 3.0-litre powerplant on-song…but we did anyway over the ranges and the response of the Audi A5 Sportback was predictably impressive.
Around town, the Audi A5 Sportback was a delight with high levels of insulation keeping the outside world at a distance and nice refinement in the drivetrain. Parking was a snack thanks to the TDI version of the Audi A5 Sportback coming standard with front and rear parking sensors – although A5 Sportback affords excellent visibility anyway.
Audi A5 Sportback Challenges
The premise for the Audi A5 Sportback is based on high performance driving dynamics combined with five-door hatchback convenience/practicality.
Strange then that Audi chose to limit the Audi A5 Sportback to four individual seats.
Audi A5 Sportback Verdict
Honestly there is not one vehicle in the Audi lineup we wouldn’t love to have in our garage fulltime. The Ingolstadt-based Germans sure know how to engineer a chassis/engine combination, the interior designers are amongst the best in the world and the team in the Finance Department are keeping their pencils sharp.
The Audi A5 Sportback is the latest chapter in this remarkable story – it successfully blends sports car performance and dynamics with hatchback convenience in the best European way.
Audi A5 Sportback The Competition
A four-door, four-seat, turbo-diesel sports/luxury European hatchback priced at $89,100 makes the Audi A5 Sportback look very sharp. BMW’s similar 5 Series GT starts at $143,400, while Volkswagen’s competent, good-looking Passat CC ($54,990 or $65,990) looks a bargain in comparison…but isn’t really in the same luxury league as the Audi.
Mercedes-Benz’ R-Class, at $92,200, is a seven-seater and way too big for direct comparisons.
Audi A5 Likes:
Value in the European league; gee it’s pretty; expected Audi top-shelf driving dynamics.
Audi A5 Dislikes:
Family-friendly practicality takes an uppercut with only four seats.