Audi A5 Sportback hatchback review
“Contemporary looks, the latest technology and great practicality make the Audi A5 Sportback an interesting alternative to top executive saloons”
- Quiet and comfortable
- Beautiful interior design and sleek exterior
- Steering lacks feel
- Cramped middle rear seat
- A few expensive options
The Audi A5 Sportback is an unusual model. Traditionally car makers like Audi produced saloons with an upmarket image, and then there would be a two-door version for those after a sportier shape. The A5 Sportback is somewhere in between the two, though - it's a sharp-looking coupe-like car but with four doors, room for rear-seat passengers and a useful hatchback boot door.
Alternatives to the Audi A5 Sportback include traditional saloons such as the BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE, Mercedes C-Class and even the electric Tesla Model S. There's also the Audi A4 saloon it’s based on, or the good-value Kia Stinger.
The engine range looks confusing at first, but it's easy to understand once you break it down. There are two basic choices: petrol or diesel. Both use a 2.0-litre four-cylinder, which has different power outputs. There's the 35 and 40 TDI on the diesel side, then the 35, 40 and 45 TFSI on the petrol side. As the numbers go up, so does the car's horsepower figure. It may also be worth considering the diesel Audi S5 Sportback, which has a V6 engine and is very powerful.
There is also the performance flagship Audi RS5 Sportback, with its 444bhp V6 TFSI petrol and quattro four-wheel drive. The RS5 Coupe and Sportback models are best thought of as a separate entities, costing around £70,000 and offering supercar-like performance and handling - and we’ve reviewed them both separately. Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive system is available, while automatic gearboxes are standard across the range.
All the engines are smooth, quiet and powerful enough to feel luxurious. The diesels make a lot of sense in the A5 Sportback as this kind of car is really at home on the motorway, where diesel engines are most efficient.
Yet thanks to extra tax on diesel models and current trends towards petrol power, many will prefer the petrol engines. Whichever petrol you go for, it makes the A5 Sportback a bit quieter and smoother, but less economical. Company car drivers might find that the petrols are cheaper to run overall because of the high tax brackets that the diesel versions sit in, though.
The Audi A5 Sportback shares a lot with other models in the Audi range and that's a good thing, because the interior is superb. All models come with leather seats, sat nav, the latest smartphone connectivity systems and autonomous emergency braking, and Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit. Its slick digital dashboard display makes using the sat nav far easier and helps the A5 Sportback feel bang up-to-date.
There's enough space for children in the back seats, but adults will feel pretty cramped because the sloping roofline cuts into headroom quite a bit. The 480-litre boot is good to see because it means the A5 is pretty practical as a family car, and the hatchback boot means it's easy enough to load up.
There’s no question that the A5 Sportback has big practicality advantages over the A4 saloon and A5 coupe, and this helps to justify its extra cost. We suspect many will choose to spend a little more for the A5’s high-riding SUV stablemate, the Audi Q5, or its BMW X3 or Land Rover Discovery Sport rivals for their family-car needs. If you don’t want an SUV, though, the A5 Sportback is a stylish and enjoyable all-rounder.