Sleek new Audi A5 Sportback spotted testing ahead of official unveiling

Audi’s compact executive car gets a new name after 30 years

Audi is about to comprehensively rearrange its compact exec lineup, with the A4 nameplate transforming into the all-electric A4 e-tron, with the replacement for the internal combustion-engined A4 as we know it renamed as the A5. We’ve spied the next-gen A5 here in Sportback guise, which gives us some insight into some more styling details. 

The logic behind the naming shake up is down to Audi’s plan to pitch its all-electric cars with even numbers and internal-combustion engined cars receiving odd numbers. The naming convention will continue further up the range, too; the A6 will be an all-electric e-tron and the next A6 ICE badged as A7. The A4’s compact executive car rivals for the past 30 years will remain the same with the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class providing close competition. 

This move will also see the current A4 and A5 ranges amalgamated into one, with the A5 Coupe and Convertible also being sacrificed as its combustion range is rationalised as the EV range grows. Due in just a few months, the new A5 Sportback and Avant will be launched alongside a new S5 Sportback and S5 Avant, the former of which we’ve also spied in a late-prototype phase of its development. 

Audi A5: Sportback and Avant 

With the new name comes a design more suited to the A5 name, because the new model will inherit the current A5’s sleek sportiness compared to the current A4’s more traditional three-box saloon shape. 

This is the first time we’ve seen the new A5 in Sportback form (not including the S5 Sportback) and it looks like the standard car and sportier version will utilise almost identical front ends. New design elements, like a slimmer grille and thin LED headlights help deliver a wider, more aggressive stance. Other minor details include flush-fitting door handles, a fresh set of alloy wheels and to the rear what looks like a full-width rear light bar.

The interior will be totally reimagined for the new A5, debuting a far more contemporary interior layout dominated by a new generation of digital interfaces. We don’t expect the triple-screen layout from the new Q6 e-tron here as Audi will likely retain this for its EVs and more premium offerings. Physical controls will be kept to a minimum, but the functionality of key controls surrounding the air-conditioning and driver assistance systems are understood to be much easier to access than in early VW Group products that have had some level of criticism in regards to their user-friendliness. 

The next A5 will stay on broadly the same MLB underpinnings as the current model, although it’ll be badge PPC - as an evolution of the MLB evo platform. It’ll be powered by a line-up of new combustion engines which Audi’s Chief Technical Officer, Oliver Hoffman, describes as “the best [the company] has ever launched”. 

Most of the line-up will be based around an updated version of the Volkswagen Group’s omnipresent EA888 turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. Improvements will include new variable-section turbochargers that claim to improve throttle response and a higher-pressure fuel injection system.

Electrification will play a key role in the A5 range, too. The petrol engine will be offered with 48-volt mild-hybrid technology at the lower end of the line-up and full-blown plug-in hybrid technology towards the upper end of the range. The latter option will probably use the same 19.7kWh battery pack and electric motor as other MLB models, such as the facelifted Volkswagen Golf plug-in hybrid. This would allow for an electric-only range of around 60 miles in the A5. 

Diesel power will also remain, although it’ll probably play second fiddle to Audi’s new-look line-up of electrified petrol engines. The bulk of the diesel range should be based around the same 201bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit also found in the Q5 SUV.

Audi S5: powertrains and bodystyle

The current S4 made the switch from petrol to diesel in 2019, using a mild-hybridised turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 producing 342bhp and offering 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds. Despite a sharp reduction in diesel sales, the new S5 will continue to offer this powertrain, majoring on effortless cruising and impressive economy. 

Prototypes of the new S5 Sportback and Avant reveal a design that will be almost identical to S-Line versions of the A5, but feature the few S-specific styling elements including the typical quad exhaust finishers. Audi Sport will eventually bring out much hotter RS versions, with both utilising plug-in hybrid powertrains to generate the extra grunt expected of a performance flagship. 

Audi A5 and S5: pricing and launch date

We have seen the A5 and S5 testing for several months now, so a 2024 unveiling for both cars seems likely. We expect a bump in price for the new A5, not only over the current A4’s starting price of £38,985, but the current A5’s £44,010 entry-level price. The sportier S5 should start well over the £50,000 mark.

Now read our list of the best executive cars...

Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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