The best of both worlds

In the market for an Audi A7 but want something a little smaller? There is an Audi to who – which In the form of the A5 Sportback – an A7 that has been shrunk in the dryer a bit. We were a little surprised that Ingolstadt’s latest addition to the US lineup has taken so long to get here: A5 Sportbacks have been sold in Europe and other markets since 2009, and they’ve just received a complete restyling. This means North America is joining this regularly scheduled program already in progress, with nearly a decade of sales elsewhere in the world showing demand for the four-ring fastback on the grid.

The Audi A5 Sportback is virtually based on the A4 sedan, but it trades the three-box sedan variant for something a bit more coupelike, complete with a huge positive hatch, stylish greenhouse, five-passenger room and frameless doors. BMW mined this part in the US with a 4-series Gran Coupe (and, as we all know, German automakers rarely exploit newly discovered niches unchallenged). To be fair, Audi was here first, at least in this size class, and given the warm reception its older and more expensive brother the A7 has received, the odds are already in its favor.

The A5 Sportback expands the Audi lineup with a four-door coupe with frameless doors and plenty of luggage space under the rear window.
Audi

The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder A5 Sportback pumps out 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, enough to sprint from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Power goes to all four wheels thanks to the Audi quattro system. A glimpse of the cargo area with the rear seats folded down proves the car isn’t small inside: The A5 serves up 35 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats down, and still 21.8 cubic feet with the seats in these upright and closed positions, with the hatch open. Generous to be more convenient for shipment.

Look like a station wagon? The A5 Sportback, just like the upcoming VW Arteon we’ve just driven, gracefully heads into this IKEA-ready area while offering a business-like interior that offers over two inches more legroom than the A5 Coupe, not to mention a more generous front and rear headroom. This kid’s A7 sits 1.6 inches lower than the A4 sedan, though you’ll be forgiven for having had a hard time picking it out from the row of A4s—the two cars track closely in nearly all dimensions. When it comes to interior technology, the A5 Sportback borrows a lot from the A4/A5 range including the optional Audi virtual cockpit, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, and standard features including the latest Audi pre sense safety suite.

For those who prefer their versatility with more oomph, Audi also offers the S5 Sportback alongside the A5, powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine borrowed from the S4/S5 good for 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.

execution

Audi brought us to Seattle to try out the A5 Sportback; Not surprisingly, it offers confident handling and a solid chassis while still providing plenty of everyday driving comfort, leaning close to the road manners of its A4 and A5 siblings.

The 2.0-liter four-cylinder is a comfortable engine that works well enough with the seven-speed gearbox, which can punctuate its shifts with noticeable drag here and there; It can also be operated via handlebar-mounted paddles. Using your right foot suffices in most traffic modes, even in Seattle, where the four-cylinder refuses to go off even when asked to do some B-road championships. A 40/60 front/rear torque split helps the A5 feel like a rear-wheel drive machine, but the Quattro is still there to provide grip, even on moldy Pacific Northwest pavement graded pine needles. The A5 delivers fast enough reactions in corners and smooth sailing on the standard 18-inch wheels. The suspension absorbs individual pavement crevices with a careless hit from the wide tires.

There’s not much chance of the A5 opening amid 24/7 rush hour in Seattle, but some quick races along the roads that served as the backdrop to the original TV series “Twin Peaks” show well-tuned commentary and feedback, especially when searching for locations from the show. At speed, the A5 maintains the etiquette of cruising into town, providing a ride that’s a bit firm but well wet that allows for some buoyancy, striking a good balance between sport and comfort.

The Fastback chassis is a well-worn suit of the A5, trading in a bit of ease of entry/exiting passenger space in the taller back seat for its profile. That’s a small price to pay for good looks, and the tight headroom is still good within the margins of the A4, especially given the extra legroom on the A5 coupe.

The A5 offers a cavernous interior and equal passenger compartment space as an A4 sedan.

The A5 offers a cavernous interior and equal passenger compartment space as an A4 sedan.
Audi

Takeaway

The Sportback takes the best from the coupe and sedan bodies and adds impressive versatility; It’s truly the best of the three worlds, though the new A4 Allroad and its magic suspension might appeal to some A5 Sportback shoppers who need the full long roof.

Overall, the A5 Sportback does a good job of making the standard A4 look restrained in its 20th century three-box formula. The price premium over the similar A4 is negligible, with the Sportback landing right in the middle of the A5 Coupe’s price zone as well, making it an easy option to pick.

Car Model Information

On sale: May 2017

Base Price: $43,575

Price tested: $52,100

POWERTRAIN: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4, AWD seven-speed S tronic DCT

Output: 252 hp at 5000-6000 rpm; 273 lb-ft @ 1600-4500 rpm

Carb Weight: 3,704 lbs

0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds

Fuel consumption: 24/34/27

Fuel consumption: 29 mpg

Features: Flexibility, Appearance, Ergonomics, Capable Engine

Cons: Transmission can be a little heavy and stiff on 18″ wheels

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