AUDI HATCHES A GLAMOROUS PLAN Mechanically the Sportback shares much with the A5 Coupé including the engine line-up. Oil burning units come in the form of 2.0 and 3.0-litre TDI four-cylinder and V6 units with 168 and 237bhp respectively. Power delivery of the latter is, as you’d expect, smooth yet urgent when you’re in a hurry. It helps that the V6 is connected to Audi’s S-tronic – read DSG – gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive system. Realistically it’s all a bit decadent, as the 2.0 TDI unit will form the bulk of sales. There’s no quattro option at launch for the lower powered unit, although more range-wide permutations are expected later in 2009 and throughout next year. For now, front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual ’box offers drivers a slick, affordable combination. It’s also an economical one with an average of 54.3mpg and 137g/km, thanks in part to a standard-fit unobtrusive stop-start system for all four-cylinder cars with manual gearboxes. Performance is also good – the 2.0 TDI Sportback is no slouch in real world driving. Ride and handling is a mixed bag, though. If you can resist the temptation to select larger wheels or Audi’s Drive Select programmable electronic handling package, you can avoid the sometimes leaden steering and crashy ride. Keep it simple is our advice, with the reward of a composed ride, accurate steering and the option to splash out on some plush extras.
The 2.0 TDI is a glamorous motorway mile muncher, plus it can be hustled along backroads at an enjoyably brisk pace. Although it’s a strict four-seater, cabin space is good and the sloping roof doesn’t impact on headroom too much. The car’s 480-litre boot is wide and flat, furthering its cause as a mature family or corporate holdall. For ultimate thrills, BMW’s 3 Series has it beat on the road, but Audi has played a blinder on the equipment front. Of the three options – base, SE, S line – the SE offers full leather, parking sensors and auto lights and wipers, along with climate control, split/fold rear seats and a slew of safety kit. For many, the looks and brand appeal easily outweigh the slightly disappointing dynamics. The A5 Sportback doesn’t offer huge thrills but it’s got plenty of glamour.
RIVALS: AUDI A4, BMW 3 SERIES, MERCEDES-BENZ C-CLASS, VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT CC
- Engine: 1968cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max power: 168bhp at 4,200rpm
- Max torque: 258lb ft at 1,750 to 2,500rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,800kg
- Max speed: 142mph
- 0-62mph: 8.7secs
- Combined consumption: 54.3mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 137g/km (E)
- Boot space: 480/980litres
- Insurance group: tba
Only a hardened cynic would say Audi’s A5 Sportback is just an A4 hatch, yet this four-seat, four-door coupé delivers comparable levels of cabin and boot space to the A4 saloon. So what’s the difference? On paper it’s a few millimetres, yet in reality the appeal is far more aesthetic. Some commentators are already claiming it’s easier on the eye, especially when viewed from the rear. The car’s squat stance is an attractive trait inherited from the A5 Coupé, while the extra length added to the Sportback’s wheelbase enables adults to sit in the back in comfort