The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
The A5 Sportback looks the business, but it’s more than just a pretty face. A spacious, stylish and beautifully built interior is augmented by reassuring handling, low running costs and fine performance. The Sportback is a fine all-rounder: relaxed as a long-distance cruiser, but still capable of putting a smile on your face away from the main road.
Reasons to buy
- Impeccable quality throughout the cabin
- Low running costs, especially with ‘ultra’ models
- Strong performance from every model
At a glance
Running costs for a Audi A5
As a stylish alternative to the more traditional A6 saloon, the Audi A5 Sportback lines up against similarly rakish rivals, such as BMW’s 4 Series Gran Coupe and Kia’s Stinger. While the Stinger is cheaper like-for-like, stronger resale values in the Audi and BMW negate that advantage, but overall running costs for all three are likely to very similar. This suggests to us that it’s best to base your buying decision on what the heart says, rather than by any small financial advantage.
Reliability of a Audi A5
It seems like a bizarre state of affairs – especially given the solid look and feel of its products – but, as a brand, Audi has never fared particularly well in customer satisfaction or owner reliability surveys. As a result, the company sits well down the manufacturer rankings in Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, and in JD Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study for several years in a row. Should anything go wrong with your A5 Sportback, Audi offers a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty which is pretty standard for this area of the market.
Safety for a Audi A5
The A5 provides an extensive suite of technology to enhance safety and comfort, including the City Safe system that automatically brakes the car if it detects an impending collision. The car also comes with six airbags and a pop-up bonnet to help reduce the impact suffered by pedestrians or cyclists in a collision. If you want to go the extra mile, there’s also the option of stop and go traffic assist, which uses radar to stop and start the car in heavy traffic conditions while maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Traffic sign recognition and a head-up display are also options.
How comfortable is the Audi A5
The A5’s interior is typically Audi: immaculate. Adorned with impeccable materials and assembled with zealous attention to detail, there are few mainstream rivals (yes, including BMW and Mercedes) that can match the A5’s air of substance and quality. While the interior panels all cosy up to their neighbours perfectly, each switch and every control is weighted and balanced to communicate a sense of silky precision. Additionally, all the usual touch points are thickly padded and trimmed with plush materials, while the steering wheel and gearstick look and feel reassuringly expensive. All of this is before you add in the option of Audi’s ‘Virtual Cockpit’, which replaces the conventional dials with a full-LED display, ultra-high definition screen quality and iPhone-like configurability, to give a highly effective blend of technology and sophistication.
The Sportback has a longer wheelbase than the standard A5 coupe, and most of that goes into improving the room in the rear seats. The result is that the excellent room in the front seats is complemented by decent room in the back. Most passengers will be perfectly comfortable, and only those way over six feet tall will find themselves having to duck a little to get in, or find their heads touch the ceiling and their knees brushing the backs of the front seats. However, the high transmission tunnel running down the centre of the car means the middle-rear seat is all but useless. Last, but not least, the boot will take 480 litres and it has a nice, wide opening, although there is quite a high lip to lift things over. And, unlike many rivals, the A5 comes with a 40/20/40 split/fold rear seat as standard.
Despite its name, the A5 Sportback it doesn’t feel all that sporty to drive. Instead, it feels more like a grand tourer, most at home on sweeping main roads, rather than tight, twisty B-roads. Drive it, and the words that spring to mind are things like ‘sure-footed’ and ‘undramatic’, but we mean that in a good way. The result is that you can cover ground at quite a lick, as even the front-wheel drive diesel models seem to have huge levels of grip in the dry, and body roll is kept in check very effectively. However, there are a couple of disappointments. First, the steering is almost completely devoid of feel, which means the car isn’t as engaging or involving as, say, a BMW; a shame in a car with ‘Sport’ in its name. Second, the ride has a noticeably firm edge to it, especially at low speeds, although it’s nothing you couldn’t live with.
Features of the Audi A5
The regular Audi A5 Coupe is one of the most handsome mid-size coupes, and adding a couple of extra doors has done little to upset that winning formula. Alloy wheels are standard across the range, and all A5s come reasonably well equipped, but they’re no more generous than major rivals from BMW and Mercedes. Three-zone climate-control, cruise control, keyless go and xenon headlights and LED running lights are standard on all models from the entry-level Sport, as is a 7.0-inch infotainment screen, a three-spoke steering wheel and sports seats. S line adds leather and Alcantara-trimmed pews, complete with embossed S line signature and four-way lumbar adjustment. S line models also feature bigger 19-inch wheels and lowered sports suspension. Consequently, you’ll be well advised to take a test drive, to see if you are comfortable with the firmer set up before being seduced by the lowered, more aggressive stance.
The Black Edition adds 20-inch wheels and black elements on the exterior, while the top-of-the-range Vorsprung model has adaptive suspension and Matrix LED headlights that can maintain full beam without dazzling oncoming drivers.
Power for a Audi A5
We’ve only driven one version of the Sportback so far, but the good news is that the 190-horsepower 2.0-litre diesel engine (labelled 40 TDI) is plenty quick enough. Better still, it’s also extremely smooth and refined, and the way it delivers its power – with strong pull in the mid-range, and no real need to rev it to the redline – perfectly suits the way the Sportback drives. It’ll get you away from rest without a problem, happily takes advantage of overtaking opportunities on the open road, and will get you to the motorway limit with hardly any effort. The four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is also pretty immaculate (the 40 TFSI). There are less powerful petrol and diesel engines – 35 TFSI and 35 TDI – also available, along with a 245-horsepower four-cylinder petrol called the 45 TFSI, but we haven’t tried them in this car yet.