Style and sub­stance

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Pe­ter Keenan

THE bat­tle be­tween style and sub­stance in the mo­tor­ing world has been go­ing on longer than Corona­tion Street. A sweep­ing roofline here and you lose head­room there. Want more boot space? Well that could en­croach on avail­able leg room.

The trade-offs are end­less, but the Audi A5 Sport­back does a pretty good job of let­ting you have your coupe cake and drive it without im­ping­ing too much on the fam­ily mo­tor must-haves.

So, in­stead of hav­ing to com­pro­mise by buy­ing an SUV when the kids ar­rive, Audi’s sis­ter car to the stan­dard A5 Coupe al­lows you to keep that road-hug­ging su­per sleek pro­file in a mo­tor of­fer­ing five-door prac­ti­cal­ity, a de­cent-sized boot and space for two adults or three kids in the back.

There are some things the Sport­back – based on the A4 sa­loon – won’t do. The third seat in the back is re­ally only suit­able for a child as it is more of a perch than a seat with leg room com­pro­mised by a raised trans­mis­sion tun­nel. Head­room for taller adults could be an is­sue but for those mea­sur­ing six foot and un­der there is more than enough space in the rear to un­der­take long jour­neys in com­fort.

The boot avoids any such caveats though as at 480 litres with a toph­inged hatch­back lid it of­fers both space and ver­sa­til­ity, mak­ing the load­ing of the fam­ily shop­ping, lug­gage for a hol­i­day, pushchair or, in my case, golf clubs a cinch. In­deed, do­ing a spring-clean sud­denly be­comes en­tic­ing as the A5 Sport­back will al­most cer­tainly be the smartest mo­tor able to trans­port rub­bish on show down at the coun­cil tip.

There are nice touches such as use­ful lug­gage nets and tie-down points while the rear seats fold flat to in­crease avail­able space when needed.

The lat­est A5 Sport­back – the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion went on sale ear­lier this year – comes in three dif­fer­ent trims, SE, Sport and S line, with a choice of pow­er­ful yet fru­gal petrol and diesel en­gines.

The 2.0 TDI Ul­tra I drove should prove pop­u­lar with com­pany car buy­ers as it boasts low car­bon diox­ide emis­sions and eye-catch­ing fuel econ­omy.

Linked to a smooth six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion the oil burner is a punchy in­di­vid­ual pow­er­ing Audi’s beauty from 0-62mph in a shade un­der eight sec­onds on its way to a top speed of 130mph.

The A5 Sport­back is a plea­sure to drive with a nim­ble set up that al­lows you to at­tack cor­ners with verve while soak­ing up the many humps and hol­lows fes­toon­ing our roads without loos­en­ing any fill­ings.

There is a con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing amount of grip in the front-wheel drive model while in­for­ma­tive, well-weighted steer­ing only adds to the fun ex­pe­ri­enced be­hind the wheel.

With its busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive ap­peal, this car will spend an aw­ful lot of time on the na­tion’s mo­tor­ways and its pen­chant for ef­fort­less cruising makes it a nat­u­ral for this type of mo­tor­ing.

The Sport model I drove boasts a plethora of good­ies with three-zone cli­mate con­trol keep­ing the at­mos­phere pleas­ant while satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion is dis­played on a large colour screen.

The in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is op­er­ated via a ro­tary dial just in front of a cen­tral arm rest that cov­ers a natty cubby hole where your mo­bile can live and in­ter­act with the car. All the di­als and in­stru­ments are driver friendly and easy on the eye.

If you can spend the ex­tra £250 then opt for the ‘vir­tual cock­pit’ which dis­plays the sat nav map di­rectly in front of the driver as well as on the stan­dard cen­tre screen.

The cabin is a high qual­ity en­vi­ron­ment fea­tur­ing top-notch soft-touch ma­te­ri­als and ex­cel­lent de­sign.

It all adds up to a mo­tor that will ap­peal to those look­ing for cool coupe style along with a de­cent dash of prac­ti­cal­ity.

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