New Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI ultra 2017 review
We've already driven the Audi A5 Coupe on UK roads, but how will the five-door A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI ultra fare?
The Audi A5 Sportback is better than ever, and for many customers the extra set of doors will be a big plus. The styling is much more cohesive than you’ll find on a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, although it’s not quite as fun to drive. The A5 Sportback plays it safe, but it's hard to argue with the great economy, strong performance, classy interior and stylish looks.
While the Audi A5 Coupe has already proved itself on UK roads, we've now had the chance to try the five-door Sportback version here in Britain for the first time. It keeps the coupe shape, keeping it distinct from the A4 saloon it's based on – challenging the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe for outright style.
The extra doors don’t affect the Sportback’s looks, still offering desirability by the shedload. The wheelbase is a bit longer, but it's the different roofline and rear windows that stand out most. The A5 is a handsome car on the outside, and of course it's just as good on the inside as well.
Audi hasn't changed the cabin from the driver's perspective, as the same clean, neat dash design and high-quality materials give it the same premium feel. The seats are comfortable too, and only a slightly high steering wheel detracts from the well-considered driving position.
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The doors at the back mean it's easier for passengers to get in, but there's still not a huge amount of headroom or legroom, especially for taller adults. There's enough space for kids, and the 480-litre boot gives the Sportback a practical side – but if it’s versatility you’re after then an A4 Avant will tick more boxes.
Audi's excellent Virtual Cockpit system is available in place of the conventional analogue dials, displaying sat-nav and other data right in front of you. There's loads of kit on S Line models like the one we tested, although be aware that the larger 18-inch wheels do nudge CO2 emissions skywards - a crucial consideration for company car buyers.
The 2.0-litre TDI diesel emits 112g/km in this specification, and with economy of 70.6mpg it'll definitely suit those after a frugal four-door. There's plenty of power to make use of, though, as the 187bhp engine will go from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds. It's at its best in-gear, with the 400Nm maximum torque coming in low down in the rev range – meaning you don't have to push too hard to build up speed.
The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox works well with this engine too, shifting smoothly in most conditions. It seems a bit laggy when slowing down for a junction and then speeding up to join traffic, but use the paddles behind the steering wheel for manual mode and it works very well.
Head into some fast corners and you'll find that this front-wheel drive A5 Sportback feels nearly as composed as its quattro siblings. There's not much body roll in corners and the steering has about the right amount of weight to it - but keen drivers will prefer the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, which is more fun to drive overall. It's not as hard-riding as the Audi, either, although the A5 is still pretty comfortable at motorway speeds.
At 70mph, the A5 Sportback is refined, with a slippery shape contributing a well-hushed cabin. And because the engine keeps itself hidden in the background, it's road noise that creeps in the most. Rev harder and the four-cylinder diesel is grumbly, but drive the eco-focused ultra model as intended and it stays quiet inside.