"With it's sporty looks and spacious boot, the A5 promises to combine the appeal of a practical saloon with desirability of a coupé."
The Sportback is the most practical member of Audi's stylish and upmarket A5 family. It joins the A5 Coupé and Cabriolet editions, but adds the practical appeal of four-doors and a spacious boot, accessed through a large hatchback. Audi claims the A5 Sportback has no direct rivals, yet both new BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class come close. And while there is much to recommend the A5's beautiful design and roomy cabin, you might not like the firm ride, and the Sportback is not the best A5 to drive.
In corners, the A5 Sportback feels very stable. Quattro four-wheel drive versions offer lots of traction, and flagship supercharged V6 engined S5 versions are extremely quick in a straight line. All cars feels sporty, thanks to a low set driving position and a meaty feel to the steering and brakes. Audi has improved ride comfort on the latest models even when fitted with large alloy wheels in S line trim. The steering is accurate, but it feels artificially heavy and lacks feel, which detracts from the overall driving experience.
Seats are beautifully trimmed - and if you opt for a leather interior, you can be sure that the A5 Sportback will look as luxurious and upmarket as any executive car. From behind the wheel, the low set driving position and wrap around dashboard help you feel safe and secure. Right-hand drive models have severely off-set pedals though, and headroom in the rear seats is limited, and the extra rear seat is an optional extra. Wind noise from the wing mirrors is also an issue, particularly at motorway speeds.
Build quality is first rate, particularly inside. The dashboard and seats feel very robustly screwed together. Inspection of the footwells and under the boot floor also reveals a depth to the quality not present in rival cars. Launched in 2009, the A5 is still too new to have appeared in customer satisfaction surveys - but neither has it been subject to any safety related recalls to fix serious problems. The car was awarded a five-star accident protection rating by Euro NCAP.
Addressing one of the biggest criticisms aimed at the old car, the Sportback is now available with five-seats, making in the most practical car in the range. It also has a spacious, easy to access boot. And if you only ever plan to carry four people, the generously sized rear seats are very comfortable, while the optional middle seat is really for occasional use only.
Value for money
Given the impressive build quality and desirable image, entry level Audi A5s offer excellent value for money. There are three trim levels to choose from, but SE equipped models offer the best balance of price and equipment. Audi's options list is extensive, but going wild with it could cost you a lot of money. However the revised model adds even more equipment into the mix, with Bluetooth connectivity and a start/stop system all now fitted as standard across the range.
Audi's 1.8 petrol and 2.0-litre diesel engines both offer low co2 emissions and impressive fuel economy - making them a good choice for those buying from company car schemes, or people who regularly travel long distances. The 2.0-litre TDI diesel model for example will now return over 60mpg, with a tax-friendly emissions figure of just 120g/km, thanks to start/stop, and other new fuel saving kit. Resale values are strong too, making the A5 an excellent place to put your cash, though like many premium cars, servicing and insurance costs will both be above average.