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