Audi A5 Sportback hatchback - Engines, drive & performance
The Audi A5 Sportback is agile, fast and quiet on the road
There’s lots to like about the way the Audi A5 Sportback drives. The steering feels somewhat artificial, but other than that Audi has built a car that’s fast, quiet and enjoyable to hustle down country lanes. When we first drove the Sportback on smooth German roads, it was never anything other than comfortable; even on the largest wheels, its suspension provided a good amount of insulation when driving over drain covers and potholes. Happily, the same is the case on the UK’s more weathered roads, although poor surfaces do feel a bit more pronounced.
The Audi A5 Sportback is impressively composed in fast corners, gripping the road tenaciously and not leaning too much. The steering is nicely weighted, but not particularly communicative. Front-wheel-drive variants don’t feel notably different to the four-wheel-drive quattro models.
The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is excellent, though. Left to its own devices it can occasionally hesitate if you accelerate sharply after slowing down for traffic, but manual gearchanges – via the steering-wheel-mounted paddles – are almost instantaneous.
Audi A5 Sportback diesel engines
Most UK buyers are expected to choose the 187bhp 2.0-litre 40 TDI diesel and this is an engine we’re familiar with from the rest of Audi’s range. Its reasonable running costs and purchase price make it an appealing choice and it gives the A5 Sportback more than enough shove. Going from 0-62mph takes just 7.9 seconds and there’s loads of pulling power to make overtaking worry-free. A higher-powered 3.0-litre diesel is no longer available in new cars, but a 148bhp version of the 2.0-litre diesel is available; it’s slightly cheaper than the 40 TDI but its 0-62mph time of 9.1 seconds doesn’t quite feel quick enough for a car like the A5.
Although few buyers will choose it, the 187bhp 2.0-litre '40 TFSI' petrol engine is another Audi staple, and it’s an engine we like. While it’ll be more expensive to buy and run than the 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel, our experience has shown it to be smoother and faster – although this will be of little consequence if fuel economy is your priority; the diesels simply make more sense from the point of view of running costs. In performance terms, there is little to split the two cars, with the 40 TFSI capable of 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and the 40 TDI managing it in 7.6 seconds.
The S5 Sportback isn't currently available, but its 349bhp 3.0-litre petrol engine is even less rational a choice in terms of day-to-day expenses - then, it’s not intended to be cheap to run. Its 0-62mph time of just 4.7 seconds should ensure it’s a genuinely capable performance car, but at around £15,000 more than the entry-level A5 Sportback, you’ll have to pay for that power. Above that is the RS5 Sportback, with a 444bhp 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine and a 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds.
Audi’s quattro four-wheel-drive system is standard with the 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel and the fast S5 and RS5 Sportback models. The extra grip it brings is reassuring but going for a quattro model costs around £1,500 and tends to dent economy and increase emissions.