Craig Thomas’s Audi A5 Sportback road test | 17/05/2010

4 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Craig Thomas’s Audi A5 Sportback road test | 17/05/2010
Audi A5 Sportback

Audi A5 Sportback

road test report

Performance

The A5 Sportback comes with a choice of seven engines: a 2.0-litre TFSI with two power ratings (177 and 208bhp), 261bhp 3.2-litre FSI petrol unit and 349bhp 4.2-litre V8 in the S5, or 2.0, 2.7 and 3.0 TDI diesels with 167, 187 and 236bhp outputs (and 258, 295 and 368lb-ft of torque), respectively. All the engines are excellent, with the refined diesels, in particular, pulling hard in the middle of the rev range, making motorway cruising a breeze.

The 3.2-litre V6 is quick and sounds great, but the other petrol units are perfectly adequate for what is essentially a cruiser, rather than a performance car. The 2.0-litre diesel has a stop-start system to increase fuel consumption and reduce emissions, which cuts the engine when in stationery traffic and the gears are disengaged (neutral). This system means that a six-speed manual gearbox is the only transmission option, but other models in the range either have a seven-speed automatic gearbox either fitted as standard or as an option (Ј1,450).

Ride Handling

As we said above, the A5 Sportback is a cruiser rather than a performance car. It’s most at home on motorways or major A roads, eating up the miles. The reason for this is that the handling, while perfectly adequate, is not hugely involving or inspiring.

The steering is light and lacks any real feedback, so you’re not going to feel like chucking it into corners. That said, it’s well balanced, body roll is negligible and there’s plenty of grip, thanks to a new electronic differential lock on front-wheel-drive models and a new sport differential on four-wheel-drive quattro models: both these devices redistribute the drive power to the wheels with the best levels of grip, helping to stabilise the car.

The ride quality on the SE model isn’t too bad: it does feel a little unsettled on poor road surfaces and urban environments, but it’s generally fine on the open road. If you spec up to the S-line trim, though, it all rather falls apart, thanks to a stiffer sports suspension and larger 18-inch wheels.

Build Quality Reliability

Safety Security

Space Practicality

Performance

Audi A5 Sportback

The pick of the engines in the A5 Sportback are the 2.0-litres, whether you’re looking for a petrol or a diesel. For petrol fans, the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine comes in 177- and 208bhp forms and both deliver strong acceleration through the gears.

From rest to 62mph in the 177bhp model takes 8.1 seconds, while the more potent 208bhp-engined versions need just 6.7 seconds if you go for the six-speed manual gearbox shared with the 177bhp unit, or 6.5 seconds if you opt for Audi’s S-Tronic seven-speed double-clutch gearbox that is a manual transmission but without a clutch pedal. This is one of the best double-clutch gearboxes around and offers quick, seamless changes whether you use the steering wheel paddle shifters, gear lever or let the gearbox work as an automatic.

The 208bhp 2.0-litre engine is offered with Quattro four-wheel drive as standard for better traction off the line, but if you don’t want it the 0-62mph with this engine takes a little longer at 7.1 seconds. There’s also a 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine with 261bhp, four-wheel drive and the S-Tronic double-clutch gearbox that covers 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds but feel sluggish and strained as it works through its gearbox.

Better is the 141bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel, though it’s undermined by a CVT (continuously variable transmission). It might not be as quick at 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds but it makes for a far sweeter all-round experience thanks to its strong mid-rev muscle. The 167bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel is an even better bet, offering 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds in Quattro guise or 8.7 as a front-drive only model.

Either way, this is the pick of the Sportback range of engines as the 2.7-litre V6 and 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel simply don’t feel as swift as their power suggests. The 2.7 is hampered by its CVT gearbox and the 3.0-litre is quick but uninspiring.

Ride Handling

Could do better is what the A5 Sportback’s report card would read from the school of dynamics. There’s ample grip in corners, but a serious shortage on feel through the steering or in the way A5 Sportback behaves and responds. The car feel curiously detached from what is going on in a way that doesn’t happen in a BMW 3-Series saloon or estate.

The A5 Sportback also needs to discover more suppleness in its suspensions set-up in most models. The 2.0-litre petrol and diesel models are acceptably comfortable when fitted with standard suspension, but avoid the optional Drive Select system that offers selectable suspension and steering as its settings all fall into gaps between where it needs to be. The S Line versions of the A5 Sportback also miss their targets by being too rigidly set and thumping into potholes.

All in all, only the smaller-engined, more basic models redeem the A5 Sportback from scoring less well here.

Build Quality Reliability

Safety Security

Space Practicality

Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback
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