Audi A5| Sportback

28 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Audi A5| Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback

First Drive: Audi A5 Sportback 3.0-litre diesel

Richard Blackburn

Audi A5 Sportback

Audi A5 Sportback

Luxury car buyers could be forgiven for suffering from niche overload. If you believe the marketing hype, every second new model has broken new ground or re-defined its segment. which brings us to the new Audi A5 Sportback, which the German maker claims has forged a new market segment.

Audi says the A5 Sportback is the best of three worlds: the prestige of a luxury sedan, the emotional appeal of a coupe and the practicality of a wagon.

The five-door, four-seater’s point of difference is a hatchback-style rear tailgate that lifts to create a wide opening for cargo, similar to a wagon. The rear seats split-fold and when they’re laid flat, they more than double the car’s luggage capacity, from 480 to 980 litres. In comparison, the A5 Coupe’s luggage capacity with the seats down is 829 litres.

The Sportback carries on the load-lugging theme with luggage tie-down points, shopping basket hooks, a parcel shelf, rear light and 12 volt outlet. The overall luggage capacity is only a fraction more than an A4 sedan, but the liftback makes loading large items a lot more convenient.

Audi says the car will appeal to people who currently own a wagon and would like something sportier, but can’t do without the extra space and practicality.

In the flesh, the Sportback certainly looks a more exciting prospect than a conventional sedan. The swooping roofline gives the car a distinctively sporty look that is more A5 coupe than A4 sedan.

Inside, though, the car offers significantly more rear leg and head room than the coupe. It is a genuine four-seater, while the coupe’s rear seat is basically a kids-only prospect.

The only gripe – and admittedly it will come down to personal tastes – is the four-seat layout. Audi has done nothing special to the rear seats to justify not having a third seatbelt in the back. Unlike BMW’s four-seaters, there’s no centre storage console and no individual bolstering for the seats.

Instead, there is a fold down armrest (which most five-door sedans have anyway) and what simply looks like an empty middle seat.

Even Audi’s outgoing managing director, Joerg Hofmann, admits he would have preferred the car to have a fifth seat. But the company’s general manager of marketing, Immo Buschmann, says the four-seat layout is another small point of differentiation for the customer looking for something a little different.

Elsewhere in the cabin, the A5 has Audi’s trademark quality feel and attention to detail. All the instruments are easy to read, the controls fall to hand easily, the menu-based system for air-conditioning, satellite navigation and audio controls is easy to navigate and the steering wheel controls mean you rarely have to take your eyes off the road. Our test car, the 3.0-litre diesel version that will make up 30 per cent of sales, had optional two-tone leather with tasteful wood inserts, which created a feel of understated luxury.

On the open road, the 176kW diesel was effortless and refined. With 500Nm of torque available, it made light work of overtaking and climbing hills, while the seven-speed dual clutch transmission shifted quickly and intuitively.

Around town, the engine was impressively quiet at idle, but the dual-clutch auto was a little jerky at times.

Audi A5 Sportback

At highway speeds, the A5’s ride is firm but comfortable, with good body control over bumps. At low speed on rougher roads, though, it felt a little harsh at times.

The all-wheel drive layout provides plenty of grip, and the A5’s steering feels better as the car travels faster through the bends. Overall, the car feels nimble and surefooted, sitting flat through corners and remaining composed over corrugations.

As with all German luxury brands, Audi’s A5 Sportback comes with some rude shocks to the wallet. The diesel version costs $89,100, almost $11,000 more than the 2.0-litre petrol. Apart from the stronger and more frugal engine (it’s half a second quicker to 100km/h and uses 6.6 litres of fuel per 100km to the petrol’s 7.5L/100km), the diesel version also gets front and rear parking sensors, larger 18-inch wheels and wood inlays.

Optional extras include satellite navigation ($4550), blind spot and lane keeping assistance ($2500) and Audi Drive Select, which allows the driver to select from different settings for the suspension, steering, throttle response and gearshift patterns. On the petrol model, the feature costs $3500, while on the diesel, it comes with a sports differential and costs $7600. The sports differential alters the torque between the rear wheels to provide better drive and less understeer (where the car’s nose pushes wide) out of corners.

An S-line pack, which includes different wheels, sports seats, prestige leather and 18-inch wheels, costs $6200 on the petrol and $4500 on the diesel model.

Overall, the Sportback is a compelling package for luxury buyers looking for something that stands out in the carpark, but doesn’t come with the usual sacrifices of a sports car.

As an everyday car, it certainly outshines the A5 coupe, with decent head and legroom for rear passengers and more luggage space, easily accessed from the lift back tailgate.

Unlike some recent niche vehicles from German luxury manufacturers, the Sportback does actually make sense as a niche vehicle.

Audi expects the Sportback to be the volume seller in the A5 range and on initial inspection, it should hit the mark.

Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback
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