The Audi A5 Sportback is a new concept for the brand. The five-door model with its extended, flowing rear end promises to offer the best of a coupé, sedan and estate rolled into one. The allure of an emotive design, everyday practicality and a sporty character mean Audi have been selling over 70 units a month since launching the car in January this year.
Taking its design heritage from the A5 Coupé, the A5 Sportback is inherently sleek and grabs attention wherever it goes. In combination with the xenon headlight unit incorportaing Audi’s trademark LED daytime running lights, the Sportback makes an entrance like few other premium four door saloons.
In terms of dimensions, the A5 Sportback is 36 mm lower than the A4 Sedan, while the short front overhang, 60 mm longer wheelbase and a wider track, emphasise the car’s athletic disposition. The four frameless doors serve to enhance the sporty nature of the car, as do the optional 18-inch alloy wheels.
The large boot/tailgate blends into the sleek roofline and opens to reveal a long, but not very tall, 480-litre cargo area. Still, there’s enough space to carry luggage for four and the rear seats can be folded down if the full 980-litres is required.
Rear leg and headroom is ample and passengers commented on the supportive and comfortable seats, while up front, driver and passenger are carried in typcially luxurious Audi fashion. The driving position is low, but front seats are electronically adjustable in a number of directions and so is the steering wheel, making an ideal driving position easily obtainable.
From the cockpit, all manner of electronic gizmo’s are at one’s finger tips, including a multi-function steering wheel with gear shift paddles, a Bose radio/CD sound system, the MMI controller and LCD screen, as well as the climate control settings and more. Well laid out with an excellent finish, the Audi’s interior looks and feels good, is easy to navigate and, despite the number of functions at your disposal, manages not to feel cluttered.
The diesel engine powering the A5 Sportback is common across the Audi range. The turbocharged 3,0-litre V6 produces 176 kW and 500 N.m of torque – enough power to propel the Sportback along at indecent speeds. The zero to 100 km/h sprint takes just 6.1 seconds and top speed is limited to 250 km/h. With a 7-speed S tronic gearbox linking the engine to the wheels via Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system, the 3.0 TDI Sportback is equipped with enough fire power to take on any corners you can throw at it and surprise many testosterone filled hatchbacks that draw alongside you at the lights. The diesel engine also offers commendable fuel economy at 6.6 l/100km and CO2 emissions of 174 g/km.
Driving the A5 Sportback around town we initially questioned the Sportback’s appeal. Is it simply a sleek and stylish alternative to the similarly sized A4? The answer is both yes and no.
Around town, the five-door coupé performs its duties without fault. Having been specifically designed as a four-seater means there is space for one less person on the back seat when compared to the A4. The front and rear seats are also mounted slightly lower, prompting a little more effort when climbing in and out. The 7-speed S tronic gearbox is not a smooth as we’d expect based on past experience in the Q5 3.0 TDI and A5 3.2 FSI Cabriolet. Of course we’re talking in relative terms here, after all, it does still offer the speed and fluidity associated with dual-clutch transmissions, but at slow speed and when coming to a stop, the S tronic spoke in a muted whine and the downshifts, especially into first gear, were obvious.
From the driver’s seat however, the steering is light and responsive and tightens up accordingly as speed increases. All-round visibility is good and thankfully the elongated C-pillar does not create a large blindspot usually associated with low or sloping roof lines. At 4.71 meters the A5 Sportback is still a long car though and, for some, the optional park-distance control might be a worthy investment to protect the paintwork in close quarters.
The A5′s suspension is firm, more so than you would anticipate judging by the elegant lines and implied grace of the car’s exterior. It’s not uncomfortable however, and once the road turns twisty, the A5 Sportback quickly sets itself apart from the similarly sized A4 and its alter ego begins to show.
As you flow from corner to corner, the Sportback’s firm and low slung ride – and not forgetting the Quattro all-wheel drive hardware – is capable of rewarding its driver with a grin. Despite a lack of feel, typical of most power-assisted steering setups on today’s modern cars, the steering itself is precise and there’s little evidence to suggest there’s a hefty 2.2-tonnes of car attached to the other end. The responsive and torquey diesel fires the car out of the turns, while the ventilated disc brakes do a good job of slowing the wheels.
The Sportback is also fitted with all manner of safety aids, including airbags, ABS, EBD, ESP and TPS (tyre pressure monitoring system). We unintentionally had the opportunity to test the TPS system. Something – a nine inch nail judging by the size of the hole! – punctured the rear left tyre on our test route. Within a minute the tyre had completely deflated and we’d come to a stop to confirm our suspicions. To cut a long story short, only when the tyre had been replaced and we needed to reduce the pressure, as a result of slight over inflation, did the system flash a warning on the car’s MMI screen. We were surprised the system didn’t respond quicker to the loss of pressure associated with the puncture.
‘Efficiency’ is the new buzz word in the motoring industry at the moment and the A5 Sportback range does its part by use of a brake energy recuperation system. During the coasting and braking phase, the alternator converts the kinetic energy into electrical energy that is stored temporarily in the battery. When the five-door coupé accelerates again, the battery feeds the energy back. This improves fuel efficiency by reducing the load on the alternator, which is driven by the engine.
The A5 Sportback is convincing in achieving its design philosophy. It’s well suited in its duties as an executive saloon/coupé and at the same time, the combination of performance and handling from the 3.0 TDI makes it a fun car to drive.
What we like…
- Plenty of power supplied by the 3.0-litre diesel, with the benefit of low fuel consumption.
- The combination of great looks, performance and versatility.
What we would like…
- The MMI controller to be positioned in front of gear selector, instead of on the centre console.
- An automatically activated parking brake is handy
- A rear window wiper. It’s no fun parallel parking at night, in the rain, without being able to see.
|Base Price||R522 500|
|Warranty||1 year / Unlimited mileage|
|Freeway Plan||5 year / 100 000 km|
|Engine Capacity||2 967 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||6-cylinders, V-formation|
|Power||176 kW @ 4 000 r/min|
|Torque||500 N.m @ 1 500 r/min|
|Transmission||7-speed S tronic|
|Drive type||Quattro permanent all-wheel drive|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||250 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||6.6 l/100km (claimed combined)|