Audi A5 Sportback: Road Test

21 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Audi A5 Sportback: Road Test
Audi A5 Sportback

Audi A5 Sportback

: Road Test

Intersecting coupe, wagon and sedan bodystyles, the Audi A5 Sportback is a convincing alternative to either, but it does have its limitations.

Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI

Road Test

Price guide (recommended price before statutory delivery charges): $68,700

Options fitted to test car (not included in above price): Metallic Paint $1695; MMI Navigation Plus $4550; Tri-zone climate control $1250; Audi Drive Select $450

Crash rating: Five-star (EuroNCAP)

Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 4.8

CO2 emissions (g/km): 127

Also consider: See text [Ed: Mint Rover SD1]

Audi’s curious predilection for four-door liftback models, or Sportback in Audi speak, is something that never really made sense to me. The idea of the Sportback, according to Audi, is a vehicle that has the practicality of a wagon, the comfort of a sedan and the style of a coupe.

That sounds fine and dandy, but what you sometimes end up with is the drawbacks of these three body types, not just the positives.

Case in point for the Audi A5 is rearward vision. The rear window isn’t what you’d describe as expansive and the blind spots are significant. Perform a headcheck and you’ll be met with a C-pillar so thick not even Superman could see through it.

That said if you want to tick a few optional extras you can add a blind spot detection system.

Also, the practicality of a station wagon is not realised with the Audi A5 Sportback, as was discovered upon trying to squeeze a large box into the cargo area. The boot is wide and long with 480 litres of space, but it has a shallow load area due to the sloping tailgate. As such, a large box will not fit without serious grunting/shoving/cursing.

For all its failings however, the A5 has many strengths, and Audi designer Walter de’Silva can be applauded for creating an appealing design. The Audi A5 has recently (March 2012) been given a mid-life update which adds newly designed front and rear aprons, aggressive new LED light designs front and rear, and minor changes to the cabin. Xenon headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels are now standard, too.

This luxury vehicle’s fundamental purpose, to transport people, is well executed. The car exhibits a refined air in most respects, from the way it rides smoothly over lower quality roads to general fit and finish, and the way the doors thud shut. Rear seat room was a pleasant surprise as well, with more than enough room for a child seat on one side and an adult on the other.

The Audi A5 Sportback is a comfortable vehicle to drive with nicely cushioned seats and pleasant tactility in all the right places — steering wheel, gear stick, heating controls, etc. This sense of ease is reinforced in the way the car is motivated, the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine delivering smooth, seamless acceleration via one of the best CVT units on the market.

The monotonous droning resonance that affects some CVT systems is barely noticeable in this application.

Audi A5 Sportback

Audi’s four-cylinder turbocharged and intercooled diesel engine delivers the kind of acceleration that a decade ago would only have been afforded from a six-cylinder engine, and with the kind of efficiency that a six couldn’t hope to match. Outputting 130kW at 4200rpm and 380Nm at 1750rpm the Audi A5 2.0 TDI accelerates smoothly but strongly, while the profusion of low end torque makes urban driving easy.

There was a little lag between pressing the throttle and getting full power, but for everything this side of a last-minute overtaking manoeuvre the engine proved adequately responsive.

Fuel use is also impressive, though it was not possible to reach the claimed fuel efficiency of 4.8L/100km. We recorded an average of 7.3L/100km. Considering the sort of driving undertaken during the seven day test — mainly commuting — the figure is commendable, helped along by an idle stop-start system.

Spending time in the driver’s seat reveals a quiet interior that shuts out most external noises and, if the badges and instruments were disguised, one would be hard-pressed to tell the car was a diesel from acoustics alone.

The interior is typical Audi: relatively simple affair at first glance. The MMI system and audio controls are located around the gear stick and proved intuitive to the author, but the HVAC controls required too many inputs to make minor adjustments. For instance, to change the fan speed is not simply a matter or turning a dial or pushing a button, you have to do both.

This is one of the few areas where the interior design has gone backwards.

Dynamically speaking, the Audi A5 Sportback is hard to fault. It approaches corners with a positive attitude, turns predictably and is enjoyable to drive fast, but the steering is still not as good as its German rivals’, wanting for feel and feedback. There’s a sense of disconnection between the driver and the front wheels, as if the power assistance has been cranked up too much, masking any meaningful response.

Priced from just under $70,000, the Audi A5 Sportback is a well-equipped mid-sized prestige car that straddles a pleasant middle ground between sportiness and practicality. Though it has its drawbacks, there are more positives than negatives and it rises to the occasion in most respects while making a strong visual impression.

Audi’s fondness of Sportbacks may be bordering on obsessive (with A1, A3, A5 and A7 Sportback models now available), but after spending a week behind the wheel it’s difficult to refute the appeal of this German trend-setter.

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Published. Thursday, 17 May 2012

Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback
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