What is it? The Audi A5 Sportback is a five-door hatch version of the newly-launched coupe.
Key features: Weight saving, more distinctive shape, more room, upgraded technology.
Our view: Five-door hatchback practicality with the visual appeal of the two-door A5 Coupe, improved engines and plenty of technology make the Audi A5 Sportback an attractive choice.
Type of review: First UK drive
Little over a month after the second-generation Audi A5 Coupe arrived on UK roads, The Car Expert heads to the Midlands to test the second new version, the Audi A5 Sportback. This car joins its sister in showrooms from mid January.
Whereas the A5 Coupe is, as its name suggests, a two-door car with a boot, the Sportback retains the same distinctive shape, but in a more practical five-door hatch format.
First introduced in in 2010, the five-door A5 has since seen 340,000 sales. Customers are attracted to it as a more distinctive-looking alternative to the core A4 model that it is based on.
It is tempting to point readers towards our review of the Audi A5 Coupe published in November – the two cars are similar in most areas including styling, space, and mechanics.
Audi A5 Sportback exterior
Where the two cars differentiate is behind the door pillar, where the Sportback shell curves more gently backwards to accommodate the rear doors and a quarter panel.
Looks are everything to this car. Audi personnel describe the coupe shape as iconic and the Sportback manages to retain the sleek visuals despite the extra versatilty of the added pair of doors. The new shell, again built around the Volkswagen Group’s latest MLB architecture with its multi-material construction, cuts shell weight by 15kg, while the car as a whole saves up to 85kg despite being 21mm longer, if 9mm narrower, than its predecessor.
In its second-generation version the Sportback gains the same styling enhancements as its sister. The lines are more pronounced, particularly the wave shape running down each flank from head to tail lamp. The bonnet is longer, swooping down to meet the most prominent element, the wider, flatter grille.
In the rear the boot makes way for a tailgate, powered as standard, and the changes necessitate a wheelbase not only 14mm longer than its predecessor but extended by 60mm over that of the stock Coupe.
Inside the A5 Sportback
The extra space between the wheels produces more room within whether in front or rear, though calling this a true five-seater is stretching a point. Boot volume of 480 litres is 15 more than the Coupe and once the rear seats are dropped this can extend to 1300 litres. It’s a practical space too, one metre wide and almost perfectly rectangular in shape.
Inside the car is exactly as the two-door Coupe, indicative of recent Audis but a significant step up from the first-generation model. It is a quality environment, finished to high quality and well designed, though this reviewer still thinks the MMI screen looks a little ‘plonked’ atop the centre console.
The cabin oozes technology, of course, this is an Audi after all. But how much of the tech one gets will depend which of the three trim levels, SE, Sport or S line, is chosen and the level to which one enjoys the ever-extensive options list.
Engine sizes range across two litres or three litres, in petrol and diesel form. However the 2-litre diesel will take by far the majority of sales amongst those calculating their benefit-in-kind tax. It offers 190hp, and can be had in stock form or as an eco-focused Ultra model – these come with front-wheel-drive transmissions only, cut CO2 emissions by 11g/km and add an extra seven miles to each gallon, while slowing the 0-62mph time by half a second.
Even standard diesels are 10mpg more efficient than their first-generation equivalents and 21g/km, 17 per cent, cleaner. And for those who want more grunt with diesel economy a 3-litre variant will soon join the range with 218hp.
The stock petrol unit is a 2-litre TFSI with 252hp on tap. That’s 22 horses more than its predecessor, cutting the 0-62mph time by half a second to 6.0 seconds, while returning 11 per cent better fuel economy and an almost 13 per cent improvement in C02 emissions.
Then there is the S5, the sports model. Like in the Coupe, its new 3-litre TFSI engine is at 354hp 21 horses up on the previous version, sending the car through 62mph from rest in 4.7 seconds. And while the savings in fuel economy aren’t quite as dramatic at 1.9mpg, emissions are cut by 14g/km, an eight per cent improvement.
On the road
Enough of dry figures, how does the Audi A5 Sportback perform? At the launch event The Car Expert drove the expected best-selling diesel version, and the performance S5 Sportback model. And a rather more practical test drive route compared to that on the A5 Coupe launch provided a clearer view of the Sportback’s capabilities.
Unsurprisingly, this is a highly refined car. Admittedly both of our test vehicles were all-wheel-drive variants with the long-renowned quattro system, which helped to add to the impression of a car firmly planted to the road.
But as we stated in the A5 Coupe review, it is also clear that Audi has worked very hard to improve its ride quality, a regular criticism of past models. The car is a composed and relaxing environment in which to eat up the miles at motorway speed limits, but also corners with confidence, remaining upright and composed.
The only real surprise comes with the S5. For a car with a 4.7-second 0-62mph time, it doesn’t feel nearly as raucous behind the wheel, far too normal and for a sports model, just a little underwhelming.
Prices and specifications
Audi A5 Sportback prices start from £33,050, this buying the 2-litre version in front-wheel-drive form with a six-speed manual gearbox. The cheapest quattro is again with the 2-litre unit, in Sport Trim and with a seven-speed S tronic ‘box. S5 versions, meanwhile cost £47,000.
SE and Sport models come supplied with xenon headlamps and 17-inch alloy wheels, S line versions get LED lamps and 18-inch wheels. Also standard across the range are leather upholstery with heated front seats, MMI operation of the radio through the seven-inch colour monitor, Apple CarPlay and Android auto smartphone integration, front and rear parking sensors and a notable safety feature, the pre-sense City collision avoidance system.
To little surprise, Audi tells us that A5 owners like to add options to their cars. The list was always extensive, and has now ‘expanded considerably’. Highlights include the MMI Navigation Plus, which has a larger 8.3-inch screen and a touchpad, and the virtual cockpit that can put Google Earth mapping right across the driver’s instrument panel.
More upmarket infotainment and connectivity systems and a host of driver assistance systems will make it all too easy for owners to spec their Sportback above the £40,000 marker that come April, will add £310 to the annual road tax bill for five years.
Like the Coupe, the new Audi A5 Sportback is an effective evolution of a model that already had plenty of fans. It looks better, its engines are both more powerful and more efficient, its road manners exemplary, and there is a highly tempting selection of latest technology available. It will continue to sell well.
Audi A5 Sportback – key specification
Models Tested: Audi A5 Sportback S line 2.0 TDI quattro 190PS S tronic, S5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI quattro 354PS s tronic.
On Sale: January 2017
Range price: £33,050-£47,000
Insurance groups: 30E-41E
Engines: Petrol 2.0. Diesel 2.0, 3.0. Audi S5: Petrol 3.0
Power (hp): 252. 190, 218. Audi S5: 354
Torque (Nm): 370. 400, 400. Audi S5: 500
0-62mph (sec): 6.0. 7.4*, 6.4. Audi S5: 4.7
Top speed (mph): 155. 146*, 152. Audi S5: 155
Fuel economy (combined, mpg): 47.9. 68.9*, 65.7. Audi S5: 37.7
CO2 emissions (g/km): 136. 117*, 119. Audi S5: 170
Key rivals: BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, Mercedes C-Class Coupe
Test Date: January 2017
* = quattro, S-tronic. All A5 figures with 17-inch wheels