Audi A5 Hatchback (2011 - ) review
Read the Audi A5 Sportback hatchback (2011 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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The Audi A5 Sportback is a handsome machine, which takes its underpinnings from the Audi A4, front end styling from the A5 Coupe and grafts a bespoke five-door hatchback body onto the rear. The strong muscular nose blends exceptionally well with the neatly tapered rear, and flowing side profile, proving to be both a stylish and practical car at the same time.
Anyone that has spent any time in a recent Audi will be instantly familiar with the cabin, as the German car maker uses a similar design throughout its mid-sized cars. Design flair is a little lacking, and the scattering of small buttons are sometimes difficult to identify whilst on the move. However, the quality and attention to detail is faultless. All of the controls are well weighted and feel solid and sturdy, while soft-touch plastics and nice tactile finishes are used throughout. Different trim colours can lift the cabin beyond the usual dark grey blandness common in so many executive cars.
As soon as Audi decided to limit seating to four, the appeal of the car to family buyers became restricted. Headroom in the rear is at a premium thanks to the sloping roofline, and rear legroom isn’t as generous as in a Ford Mondeo. There’s 480 litres of luggage room with the seats up, and 980 litres with the seats folded – and again this isn’t as much as the Mondeo. Depending on the model chosen, towing capacity ranges from 1,700kg to an excellent 2,100kg when equipped with quattro four-wheel drive.
Ride and handling
The A5 Sportback impresses with good handling, plenty of grip and a decent driving experience. The steering could do with a touch more feel though, and the sports suspension on S line models is unbearably hard. Standard and SE trim levels fare considerably better, with a relatively pliant and smooth ride. Engine refinement is top notch and both road and wind noise kept well in check. The A5 Sportback is an admirable motorway cruiser and soaks up the miles with ease.
With a choice of eight engines – four petrol and four diesels – there really is something for everyone. Right from the 141bhp 2-litre TDI diesel engine up to the powerful 328bhp 3-litre turbocharged S5 quattro. All engines deliver exceptional performance, with the best-selling 168bhp 2-litre turbodiesel engine producing 258lb/ft of pulling power, a top speed of 142mph and completing the zero to 62mph dash in just 8.7 seconds. There’s also the availability of quattro four-wheel drive with the majority of engines. As well as six-speed manual gearboxes, there’s the option of continuously variable transmission automatic or twin-clutch S tronic automatic transmission on most models.
All four-cylinder A5 Sportback models with a manual gearbox come with a stop and start system and brake energy recuperation technology, which helps to lower CO2 emissions and provide better fuel consumption. The most popular engine choice, the 2-litre TDI diesel engine producing 168bhp achieves 55.4mpg on the combined cycle, while emitting 137g/km of CO2. The A5 Sportback retains its value well and isn’t too tough on the pocket when it comes to insurance.
The engines used in the A5 Sportback are under the bonnets of a wide range of Volkswagen Group products and reliability is reported as being above average. Dealers have a good reputation for excelling when it comes to customer service, and owners are generally satisfied with their cars.
The Audi A5 hasn’t yet been crash-tested in coupe, cabriolet or Sportback guise, but the platform that it’s based upon has been. When EuroNCAP tested the A4 saloon back in 2008, it scored a five-star safety rating for adult occupant safety. All A5 models come with front, side and head airbags, with the option of paying extra for rear side airbags. ISOFIX child seat safety fasteners are standard equipment both front and rear, and the front passenger airbag can be deactivated using a switch. There’s the option of quattro four-wheel drive on most engines, while all models come equipped with electronic stability programme and traction control. Additional safety devices available at extra cost include a lane departure warning system and blind spot monitors.
All Audi A5 Sportback models come with a decent level of standard kit, including 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, an MP3-compatible audio system, air-con, electric and heated mirrors, electric windows and a leather steering wheel. SE models add rear parking sensors and leather upholstery, while top-spec S line trim includes 18-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, styling kit and xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights. The range-topping S5 quattro features 19-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, bespoke leather seats, painted brake calipers as well as a unique S5 body kit.
If smart, svelte looks are more important to you than versatility, then the A5 Sportback will fit the bill well. It looks good, drives well and feels that little bit more special than many of its more traditional rivals.