Audi S5 Sportback
It has looks, pace and practicality, but is hot exec ‘hatch’ worth premium over S4 Avant?
The S5 Sportback is a welcome addition to the range, blending style and storming performance with real world usability. It’s the cheapest S5 you can buy – and, thanks to that large boot and spacious rear, it’s also impressively practical. Bad news for Audi is the fact that the S4 Avant costs even less, plus can swallow more luggage and delivers equally strong performance. So, unless you really love the look of this Sportback, the hot A4 estate is a better choice.
Ferociously fast big estates have long been Audi’s forté, but what about hatchbacks?
While the S5 Sportback isn’t quite a full-blown load carrier, it’s more practical than the Coupé or Cabriolet. It has two extra doors and a wide-opening tailgate.
And with a supercharged V6, it promises pace as well as space. Is it worth £2,340 more than the larger S4 Avant, with which it shares its mechanicals? We drove it in the UK to find out.
It’s not as good-looking as the two-door S5, but the Sportback still provides a commanding presence on the road, with the stylish sloping roofline hiding the extra space behind the driver.
A mild bodykit, S5 badging and 19-inch alloy wheels provide the essential understated but muscular looks that mark out the latest fast Audis. But while the Coupé is powered by a V8 engine, the five-door – like the drop-top – gets the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine from the S4. It’s not as powerful, producing 328bhp to the V8’s 349bhp, but delivers exactly the same peak torque output, at 440Nm.
This is transmitted to all four wheels through a slick-shifting, seven-speed S tronic automatic box. As a result, the Sportback covers 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds and goes on to a 155mph top speed. Yet despite this pace, it returns a decent 30mpg.
The unit is creamy smooth, with a tuneful growl from the quad exhausts, and gives the car supreme overtaking response throughout the rev range. Just as impressive is the fact that all this performance reaches the road surface with no drama.
In corners, the S5 provides superb traction, and is easy to drive quickly but safely. The trade-off for this is that the large wheels give a firm ride, while the steering could do with more feedback. Is it a better buy than an S4 Avant? Well, the Sportback has plenty of room for adults in the rear, but the estate offers 450 litres more load space with the seats folded, and is as fast and capable in all conditions. So while the S5 is good, the cheaper S4 Avant is a stronger package.