White is the new black. The lightest monochrome is gaining ground on dreary black and ubiquitous silver as the paint shade to uplift the look of a smart new car. So that is the colour of choice for one of the newest models in Diesel Car’s Our Cars fleet. Guess who grabbed the keys ahead of all my eager colleagues? They don’t call me Speedy Baker for nothing.
As well as looking good, our new A5 Sportback is a slick performer too, with 187bhp on tap, a fat 295lb ft punch of torque, and a 0-62mph time nipping in at just below eight seconds. It still has an average fuel consumption figure that’s realistically over 50mpg, and a CO2 figure of just 112g/km, similar to some small cars. All of which gives it decent company car park credentials, as well as putting a smile on the face of its sharp-elbowed new custodian for the next few months.
It isn’t true, though, that the svelte white Audi is the reason we’ve just had our house re-painted, as a neighbour joshed at me the other day. Yes, the pristine white A5 Sportback arriving on the driveway did make the exterior paint on our house look a touch off-white and in need of an update, but the fresh re-decoration was planned way before the car arrived. Honestly it was. Happily, car and house are now similarly bright white and as smart as one another, even if the house is 110 years older.
I was very taken with the A5 Sportback when I first drove it on the launch event. It’s quite a big car at 4.7 metres in length, but it has a sleek, streamlined silhouette that gives it the visual appeal of a coupÈ, but without any of what are often the inherent disadvantages. It has five doors, rather than the lesser convenience of two or three. It has a large tailgate for ease of rear access and loading. Usefully, on our S line model, the tailgate opens in response to a third button on the keyfob, and closes when you press the electronic switch on the tailgate edge. The boot is a very decent size at 480 litres, and can be extended into the cabin by flopping forward the rear seat-backs. That’s handily do-able for just one seat, or two, or all three, thanks to the 40/20/40 split.
The big tailgate is a boon, but there is one disadvantage to its design. There is no rear screen wiper, even though the screen and its angle of slope is pretty similar to what you normally find on a mainstream hatchback, which typically comes with a wiper. Calling this a Sportback doesn’t excuse the lack of a back wiper. Its absence is a small gripe, but an irksome one when the glass is obscured by heavy rain or general road grime. That apart, there’s much else to like. The car’s general roominess is a strong point. CoupÈ-styled cars often suffer from inadequate rear headroom, but itís actually pretty fair in the A5 Sportback. There’s decent stretch room for long-legged passengers’ knees too. Up front, the driving position has a lavish range of adjustments, so it’s very easy to achieve a very comfortable driving position.
I particularly like the big Audi’s long-leggedness on the road. The car arrived with just delivery mileage of 124 miles on the odometer. In its first month with us it has clocked up four figures, but it’s still a very new car, so everything is still pretty tight. Even so, it has a relaxed feel on a cross-country canter, and it munches motorway miles with ease and relish. It is nicely refined, smooth and civilised, with low-fatigue manners on a longish motorway haul.
I’m glad that we opted for the automatic, rather than the manual. As a keen driver, I do like a good stick-shift gearbox, but the pressure of traffic in the south-east does make an automatic the easier solution. It’s preferable to the constant left-leg-stretching, clutch-dipping exertion of crawling along in a jam in a manual model, fun though that can be in open country.
So the A5 is settling in nicely. Initial impressions are very favourable. I like it a lot, and look forward to some busy months ahead with the big Audi. Will it still impress as the miles rack up? We’ll find out, but the signs are certainly good.
Date arrived 8th September 2017
Fuel economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 57.6/70.6/65.7mpg (on test) 51.4mpg
Door handle illuminators and puddle lights that come on when you park at night are both handy and add a bit of visual drama to the car’s look after dark.
There is no back wiper to clear the glass on that huge rear screen.