WHAT IS IT?
Audi’s all-new, second-generation A5 Sportback sits on the same MLB platform as the excellent A4 and A5 Coupe, merging sedan practicality with fastback looks and carrying the mantle of most popular A5 variant in Oz.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
Ingolstadt’s first go at a five-door A5 was a bit of an afterthought. Walter de Silva never intended his sleek coupe design to accommodate an extra pair of doors, and it took three years for Audi to bring the Sportback to market after the launch of the Coupe. This time around is different. The new A5 was penned with a Sportback variant in mind from the start, and it promises wholesale improvements to the formula.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
The A5 Sportback is more than just a stylised A4 sedan. It combines genuine practical advantages and added design appeal into a blend of style and substance that will lure design-savvy buyers with a bit of extra money to spend.
PLUS: Alluring looks; improved rear seating; solid dynamics; good drivetrain choices
MINUS: Price premium; adaptive dampers optional; S-tronic ’box doesn’t match 4 Series GC’s ZF
THE WHEELS REVIEW
FUSE the most desirable bits of Audi’s mid-size model family into one vehicle and the A5 Sportback is what follows. It’s a versatile cocktail of passenger space and cargo room draped in the dramatic, fastback styling of the A5 Coupe, and more than half of all Aussie A5 buyers have opted for the five-door variant since it was added to the line-up in 2010.
Second time around, and unlike the original, the A5 was developed with a Sportback variant in mind from the get-go, and with less packaging compromises diminishing its usefulness the new car is better in about every measurable way. The VW Group’s accomplished MLB platform, shared with the A5’s excellent A4 sedan and wagon siblings, sits beneath beautifully refined bodywork that loses none of its appeal despite an extra pair of doors.
Three models make up the regular A5 range with a performance-minded S5 variant sitting above. Prices start from $69,900 for the 140kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder front-drive base model, to $73,900 for a 140kW/370Nm 2.0-litre turbo diesel quattro, and $81,500 for the 185kW/370Nm 2.0-litre turbo-four quattro, where the bulk of sales should sit.
Those who view the Sportback merely as a stylised A4 sedan may find the price premium hard to swallow, but the liftback trumps both it and the Coupe by bringing genuine practical advantages. Its wheelbase is 4mm longer than the A4 and 60mm longer than the A5 Coupe, which opens up 24mm of extra legroom for rear seat travellers. It’s wider in the back, too, with a proper three-seat rear bench allowing for an extra passenger compared with the A5 Coupe’s divided pair of back seats.
A huge roof-hinged aluminium tailgate now lifts automatically when triggered by a kick under the rear bumper, revealing the same 480L boot space as before. It grows to a larger, Avant-rivalling 1300L with all sections of the 40:20:40 split-fold backrest stowed. Further use of lightweight materials including magnesium has dropped the Sportback’s overall weight by up to 80kg in the volume-selling 2.0 TFSI quattro that now sips a frugal 6.5L/100km.
Inside, the Sportback carries over the same elegant interior styling as seen in the A4 and A5, including highly considered touchpoints and an overall focus on quality. On the road it’s a composed and controlled drive with the 2.0-litre quattro model offering reasonable driver involvement and satisfying torque delivery without stepping on the toes of its bigger S5-badged brother.
Sadly, adaptive dampers remain a $2210 option on all A5s – standard only on S5 – and the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission found in all variants can’t quite much the effortlessness of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe’s eight-speed ZF.
That said, the A5 Sportback’s mixture of style and substance is a compelling alternative to the other Audi B segment models. Audi’s niche-mining seems to have struck a sweet spot for those who can afford it.
Model: Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI quattro
Engine: 1984cc, four-cylinder, 16v, dohc, turbo
Max power: 185kW @ 5000-6000rpm
Max torque: 370Nm @ 1600-4500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch
0-100km/h: 6.0sec (claimed)
Fuel economy: 6.5L/100km (claimed)
On sale: Now