Style and substance
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.
TEST DRIVE AUDI A5 SPORTBACK
Model: Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI Ultra Sport Price: £35,765 Mechanical: 187bhp, 1968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual gearbox Max speed: 130mph 0-62mph: 7.9 seconds Combined mpg: 64.2 Insurance group: 28 CO2 emissions: 108g/km BiK rating: 23% Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles