Latest report: Audi A5 Sportback long-term test
15 June 2017
Author: Debbie Wood
|P11D price £37,390|
|As tested £43,255|
|Official consumption 65.7mpg|
4th report - Virtual reality
When Audi first launched its Virtual Cockpit in the TT back in 2014, we all swooned over the sophisticated and modern display of Audi's next-generation trip computer.
It was without a doubt the best system at the time and although the market has caught up, it's still up there with the very best. It forms part of our car's optional Technology Pack priced at £1,395 and is well worth the investment in our book.
The pack also includes the upgraded 8.3-inch infotainment screen, wireless charging, a touch-sensitive control pad via the rotary dial (which admittedly we've found too fiddly to use), Wi-Fi capabilities and voice-recognition functionality.
Essentially, the Virtual Cockpit mimics most of the information available through the car's main infotainment screen, but one of the great things is that you can view functions simultaneously without having to keep reverting back to different screens.
For example, you could keep the sat-nav on the main infotainment screen giving you directions while you find the person you want to call in your contacts via the Virtual Cockpit - no need to keep swapping screens. It's safer for the driver too because you don't need to divert your eyes away to the centre screen to access controls, and even technophobes will find this system easy to use - you just use the arrow buttons on the steering wheel to navigate around the different tabs.
We've only found one downside: the system doesn't link up with Apple CarPlay properly yet. You can still skip tracks if you're using Spotify, but you can't scroll through your playlists or view the Google Maps from your phone. That said, Audi's own sat-nav is very good too and, as we've already explained, you could use the main screen for Apple CarPlay and utilise the Virtual Cockpit for other functions if needed.
Clicking the 'view' button can either enlarge the rev counter and speedometer or shrink them, and the top of the 12.3-inch screen displays the mileage range of the vehicle, your phone signal, any warnings like loss of tyre pressure, maps and media functions, plus other essential information like the time and outside temperature.
Being behind the wheel of our A5 Sportback makes you feel like an entrepreneur of the modern world, despite the system being three years old. Impressive stuff when you consider the rate at which technology is improving these days.
Our average consumption 49.2mpg
3rd report - Parking perfection
I'm very particular when it comes to parking and one of my ultimate pet hates is when someone doesn't reverse park into a bay or when people don't stay in the lines - I mean, how hard can it be?
Admittedly, not everyone is driving a car like our long-term A5 Sportback, which comes filled with driving aids to help make easy work of slotting into a tight parking space.
Included as standard in our S Line-spec'd car is front and rear parking sensors, which as well as an audible alarm when you get too close to an object, offer a visual display which highlights the area of the car where the object is closest.
For our car we've also upgraded to the Parking Assistance Pack Advanced. It costs an extra £1,350 and is well worth the investment. Included in the pack is Cross Traffic Assist, which alerts the driver when reversing if there's traffic crossing and will apply the brakes if detected. Another useful system that works in a similar way is Exit Warning, also included in this pack, which monitors the rear and side of the car when stationary and warns you via a warning light on the door before exiting that vehicles or cyclists are approaching. You're not likely to be aware of these systems on a daily basis but will be very grateful of them when you find yourself in a tricky situation.
Although not directly related to parking, also included in the aforementioned pack is Side Assist, which is a blind spot monitoring system, and it's very handy on the motorway, working from around 10mph to 155mph. A warning light is triggered if other vehicles are in the other lane making it unsafe to change lanes.
Finally, included in the pack is Audi's pre-sense system, which, where necessary, takes actions to protect the driver and passengers from a potential collision from the front and rear. These include: front seatbelt tightening, activating the hazard warning system and automatically closing the windows - potentially life-saving during a high-speed collision.
Disappointingly, in the UK this pack doesn't include a reversing camera, which in my opinion is one of the must-haves for fleets when it comes to options lists. It's not an expensive option to add, though, costing £450, and the camera itself is concealed in the handle strip of the luggage compartment lid.
When reverse is deployed on the auto gearbox the 8.3-inch screen automatically turns on the reversing camera and will display on the screen until you put the car back into Drive.
You can't put a price on safety and the parking aids on offer in the A5 Sportback should quickly pay for themselves. Low speed bumps in the carpark should be a thing of the past. There are no excuses really.
Our average consumption 49.2mpg
2nd report - Heading Down Under
Going on holiday is always fun, but I have to admit the one thing I don't enjoy is packing, and having booked a three-week trip to Australia, I knew that this year would prove to be even more difficult.
I'm not a light traveller and need to have as many creature comforts around me as possible when I go away. So it was absolutely essential to have a car capable of transporting all of my luggage to the airport.
Time to find out if our A5 Sportback could rise to the challenge. Happily, thanks to its 480 litres of bootspace, fitting in the two large suitcases proved a breeze and the automatic tailgate - standard on our test car - meant I didn't need to worry about fumbling around opening the boot with my luggage either.
The boot lip is also low enough that I didn't struggle too much with the heavy cases, and a wide opening made loading easy too. Inside there's enough space to place bags in the rear-seat footwells, and thankfully there's lots of other practical storage options around the cabin too.
The glovebox was spacious enough to place all my holiday documentation and the large cupholders secured the (much needed) coffee en route to the airport too. We've already talked a little about how good the Apple CarPlay system is in previous reports, but one of my favourite functions when using Google Maps is when it offers a faster alternative route. There's always a bit of hesitation as you debate whether to fully trust its judgement, but on many occasions it's helped me to avoid getting stuck in traffic, and on this particular day the maps enabled me to avoid a three-mile jam on the M25 that could have made me very late for check-in.
Now that the engine is getting a few more miles under its belt, fuel economy is improving too. We've already passed the 50mpg mark and I'm expecting that figure to keep improving as the miles rack up.
The 100-mile journey to the airport was a stress-free and relaxing affair, testament to our A5 Sportback's excellent comfort levels, and a great start to my holiday.
Our average consumption 50.2mpg
First report - Chauffeuring teenagers
First of all, let me apologise that there are no pictures of the people I refer to in this article. Anyone who currently has a teenage daughter will understand that having the appropriate amount of make-up applied and the hair styled is apparently absolutely essential for even a quick trip to the supermarket, which ultimately means you'll wait forever and a day to go anywhere.
That time doubles when there's a camera involved and I just wasn't prepared to wait four hours for the girls to be ready for a quick snap. So instead I've chosen to take a few more pictures of our A5 Sportback long-termer on its own - no bad thing by any stretch.
Technically a hatchback but closer to a coupe in looks, the A5 Sportback has some serious kerb appeal, perhaps not as much as the Coupe, which we said goodbye to in our previous report, but its sleek lines and distinctive front-end make it very easy on the eye.
We have two cars on our driveway at home: a Ford Focus and the A5 Sportback. It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which of the two is more popular with the teenagers.
I'm not usually the first person to put my hand up to playing 'taxi' when Abigail's friends come over and stay, but the A5 Sportback is so easy and comfortable to drive that it makes it far less of a chore - even with the hours of teenage angst I had to endure as a result.
Our long-termer is loaded with tech, but unsurprisingly the one feature that proved particularly popular was Apple CarPlay. As smartphones are so integral to a teenager's existence, any car that can replicate your phone's screen and allow you access to your text messages and Spotify on the move is always going to go down well with the younger generation - they'll never plug their own phones into the USB ports, though, as adults are not allowed to be within easy reach of a teenager's smartphone after all.
Although space in the back is not as generous as its saloon stablemates, the new A5 Sportback is 21mm longer, 5mm lower and 9mm narrower then the previous model, and that growth spurt means more legroom, especially noticeable to those in the rear.
Headroom will still be an issue for anyone over six-foot; however, for our current passengers, there was more than enough space for them to stretch out. Boot space is generous too, at 480 litres - easily adequate for the many (many) bags apparently needed for an overnight stay.
The rear air-con controls came in handy, mainly because girls these days tend to go around fairly scantily clad (showing my age here) - they need Sahara desert temperatures blowing to stay warm. The large, leather seats proved comfortable too, and the 10-speaker sound system got the thumbs up - even if my music taste did not.
Storage space is also plentiful, with large rear-door pockets that can fit a bottle of water, magazine holders behind the front seats, and a practical rear armrest that includes cupholders and a thin cubby.
So the A5 Sportback was a big hit with the kids, and I'm sure it'll continue to be first choice on the driveway the next time Abi's friends come to stay. Whether I decide to let them back in the car depends on if they can learn to wash their hands properly after applying make up - having to clean up orange handprints are a deal-breaker for my taxi services.
Audi A5 Sportback 2.0TDI 190 S line S-Tronic
|P11D price £37,390
|As tested £43,255
|Official consumption 65.7mpg
Standard equipment: Xenon headlamps, Audi Drive Select, cruise control, keyless start, 7in touchscreen system, three-zone climate control, rear parking sensors. S line: 18in alloys, LED headlights, Apple CarPlay, sports steering wheel, Black leather/Alcantara front sports seats, sports suspension.
Options: Driver Assistance Pack (£1,250), flat-bottom steering wheel (£100), high-beam assist (£150), storage pack (£175), pneumatic lumbar support (£450), headlight washers (£250), smoking pack (£50), virtual cockpit (£250), Assistance Pack (£1,350), MMI Navigation (£1,100)