TRIPLE TREAT

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - PRESTIGE: AUDI A5 SPORTBACK - RICHARD BLACK­BURN CARS­GUIDE EDI­TOR

THE choice of lux­ury cars th­ese days is enough to make your head spin.

The hum­ble sedan has been swamped by sports cars, twodoor coupes, four-door “coupes”, high-rid­ing all-road sta­tion wag­ons, SUVs with “coupe-like” pro­files … the list goes on.

Audi has led trend, notch­ing up more than a decade of record sales on back of niche mod­els no one knew they wanted. One of those was the

A5 Sportback, prac­ti­cal four-door al­ter­na­tive to the coupe.

At its lo­cal launch in 2010, it was billed as hav­ing space of a sedan, svelte looks a coupe and prac­ti­cal­ity wagon.

It built up healthy fol­low­ing helped keep the Audi sales jug­ger­naut rolling.

Seven years later, some cus­tomers have suc­cumbed to the itch and been tempted by other brands — or other Audi mod­els sales dipped.

But Ger­man maker is fight­ing back with a new Sportback that de­liv­ers the lat­est in semi-au­to­mated driv­ing, more pow­er­ful and ef­fi­cient en­gines, re­tuned sus­pen­sion a roomier cabin re­in­forces its rep­u­ta­tion as a style leader.

Per­for­mance is helped by body that 80kg lighter than its pre­de­ces­sor, new sportier dual-clutch gear­box on the cheap­est model and en­gine re­vi­sions through­out range.

Audi claims cheap­est A5 will do the 0-100km/h sprint in 7.5 sec­onds, while next step up lad­der, 185kW 2.0litre with all-wheel-drive, will com­plete 6 sec­onds flat. Fuel use is also down.

A new tur­bocharged V6 AUDI A5 SPORTBACK PRICE $69,900$105,800 WAR­RANTY 3 years/ un­lim­ited km CAPPED SER­VIC­ING $1670 over 3 years SER­VICE IN­TER­VAL 12 months/15,000km SAFETY 5 stars, 8 airbags EN­GINES 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 140kW/320Nm and 185kW/370Nm;

turbo diesel, 140kW/400Nm; 3.0-litre V6 260kW/500Nm TRANS­MIS­SIONS 7-speed dual-clutch auto (S5, 8-speed auto); FWD/AWD THIRST 4.8L-7.5L/100km DI­MEN­SIONS 4733mm (L), 1843mm (W), 1386mm (H), 2824mm (WB) WEIGHT 1530kg-1735kg SPARE Space-saver

re­places the su­per­charged en­gine on pre­vi­ous S5, shav­ing four-tenths off the 0-100km/h time to 4.7 sec­onds, per­for­mance that would give some V8s a run for their money.

Prices have risen by be­tween $1000 and $6000 but there’s more stan­dard equip­ment, in­clud­ing the vir­tual cock­pit, on cheap­est model The list of equip­ment on A5 is im­pres­sive, start­ing with the digital cock­pit, sat­nav, Ap­pleCarPlay and An­droid auto pro­jec­tion cen­tre screen ra­dio.

ON THE ROAD

The Sportback will win a lot of prospec­tive buy­ers over be­fore they leave the show­room floor.

cabin is all class, from mood light­ing to soft­touch sur­faces, smell of leather and hi-tech in­stru­ment read­outs.

The stan­dard vir­tual cock­pit is the high­light, dis­play­ing satel­lite im­ages of your route on the in­stru­ment dis­play. Thank­fully Audi has re­sisted

temp­ta­tion to fit a touch­screen and you scroll through menus with dial — it’s eas­ier less dis­tract­ing use.

The cabin is big­ger than its pre­de­ces­sor but it’s still not par­tic­u­larly roomy. hand­some form of the A5 wins over func­tion so leg, shoul­der and headroom in back is ad­e­quate rather than gen­er­ous.

Two ex­tra doors and wagon-style lift­ing tail­gate mean it’s more prac­ti­cal the coupe, though. Boot space on par with A4 sedan with

rear seats in place. Lay them flat as you would a wagon or SUV and load is dou­bled, long floor and wide open­ing for big­ger items.

From the driver’s seat, there’s plenty to like, although op­tional “traf­fic jam as­sis­tant” with auto steer­ing in­put seems a lit­tle gim­micky. On our test drive, it left too big gap to the car in front, the didn’t work all time and if

en­gine shut down at lights, you had re­ac­ti­vate au­topi­lot.

A lot of the stuff that im­pressed us on our A5 was op­tional. The ask­ing price blew out from $85,100 to $101,606 with op­tions in­cluded.

We drove the more pow­er­ful of two 2.0-litre turbo petrol en­gines and it’s a punchy and re­fined job that has plenty of low-down grunt but also doesn’t mind be­ing revved. Matched to the sharp-shift­ing seven-speed dual-clutch auto, it al­ways has plenty of power on tap, par­tic­u­larly in “dy­namic” mode, which sharp­ens throt­tle re­sponse and gear-shifts.

The A5 is up to the chal­lenge on a twist­ing road, with of grip well-sorted sus­pen­sion. Our test car had ad­justable dampers and we found sports set­ting was pick — it firmer, but bet­ter con­trolled on rough sur­faces. Ul­ti­mately, though, the A5 is not as en­gag­ing as its BMW or Benz ri­vals, mainly be­cause steer­ing is too light and lacks feel for spir­ited driv­ing.

VER­DICT

Gripes aside, the Audi is a pol­ished grand tourer — com­fort­able, lux­u­ri­ous and more prac­ti­cal than coupe.

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