Audi A5 Sportback review
There’s more to the Audi A5 Sportback than its sleek looks. The classy premium hatch is an alternative to the usual saloon car suspects
The Audi A5 Sportback is the perfect car for anyone who’s fed up with the usual choice of straight-laced executive saloons. Thanks to its practical hatchback body, it’s more user-friendly than the A4 saloon and much more stylish, too. Originally the A5 Sportback was only available as a four-seater, but Audi has answered its critics and a more versatile five-seater set-up now makes it better than ever.
Our choice: A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI (177)
If you want a car that will impress your colleagues and make your neighbours green with envy, the A5 Sportback will do both. Its beautifully judged proportions, sleek lines and smooth profile set it apart from the usual crop of saloon cars. Sporty S line models look even better thanks to their lower stance and bigger wheels, but beware; the larger rims and lowered suspension really affect ride comfort. The eye-catching exterior comes matched to an equally impressive interior, which is full of high quality materials and smart design.
Let’s get one thing straight; the Audi A5 Sportback isn’t the most rewarding driver's car around. Instead it majors on secure handling and refinement. If you stick to SE models it’s comfortable, but versions fitted with larger wheels aren’t so polished. They typically have a firmer ride and a tendency to tramline, as the front wheels try to follow the camber of the road. The engine line-up is brilliant, and includes everything from efficient diesels to the 328bhp supercharged V6 fitted to the storming S5. Transmission options include conventional front-wheel drive and famous quattro four-wheel drive. Manual gearboxes are light and positive, but you can also choose from Multitronic automatic and slick twin-clutch S tronic transmissions, depending on the engine you want.
The A5 has many similarities with the A4 saloon, so while it hasn’t been put through the rigours of a full Euro NCAP test, you can bank on strong safety credentials. All A5 Sportback models feature electronic stability control and front and side airbags as standard. Audi is also famed for its quality – and that bodes well for owners. The firm finished a strong seventh in our 2011 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.
For a car that is effectively billed as a stylish compact executive, the A5 Sportback is incredibly practical. Its rear hatch creates a large boot opening and the amount of space inside isn’t bad, either. With the rear seats in place it can hold 480-litres of luggage, but if you fold them forwards this increases to a useful 980 litres. We do have a few words of warning, as the A5 Sportback comes as a four-seater. If you want an additional seatbelt and headrest in the middle of the back seat, you’ll need to visit the options list.
The huge engine range runs from the sublime to the ridiculous. The S5 flagship has high emissions of 190g/km and a hefty thirst for unleaded, but the diesel models are seriously attractive to both company car drivers and private buyers. Emissions for the ultra efficient TDIe start from a low as 117g/km and it provides claimed economy of 64.2mpg. Even the 2.0-litre TDI quattro only puts out 134g/km, so if you want reasonable fuel and tax bills, diesel A5 Sportback models are the ones go for. Strong resale values also help to take the sting out of depreciation, as it should hold onto its value more effectively than many of its saloon rivals.