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Test Drive Report: Audi A5 Sportback

Date: 24 July 2009   |   Author: Tom Webster

Audi A5 Sportback is priced between A4 saloon and A5 coupe
Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £29,340
Key rival: Audi A4

Audi claims the A5 Sportback is the latest of its models to break into uncharted territory and forge a new niche in the market. It is, it says, a four-door coupe that offers the practicality of the A4 saloon, the load space of the A4 estate and the styling of the A5 coupe.

The result is a combination of all of these cars, but the A5 Sportback is not as groundbreaking as Audi would have you think. While it is very good looking, and particularly so in the S-line specification we drove here, it is best classed as an upper-medium hatchback.

But that's no bad thing.

The move could easily prove to be a very shrewd one. You can easily pay the A5's starting price of £25,440 for a Ford Mondeo, but get none of the premium status and RV benefit the Audi brand provides and there are currently no direct premium rivals.

Practicality is therefore crucial to the A5 Sportback, and it succeeds on many fronts.

Open up that large rear hatch and you're confronted by a very generous boot space - 480 litres with the seats up, rising to 980 with them folded flat. This matches the A4 saloon for rear capacity, but the huge opening area means this model is the more practical of the two. There are no clever under-floor extensions to increase boot volume, but remove the two small parcel shelves and you get much more load height than the saloon offers.

Rear head and leg space is good as well. Two six feet tall adults will comfortably sit in the rear, although taller passengers may find head room a little restricting. However, it is much more spacious than its three door sibling, and comfortably comparable with the A4 saloon. Fit and finish is typical Audi - easily up to the high standard drivers have come to expect from the brand. It's well specified too, sharing the coupe's trim levels.

But before all A4 owners rush out to their dealer, the rear seating has one more point to consider. By only putting two seats in the back, Audi is firmly stating this is a sporty car, and should not be driven by people wishing to carry more than three passengers. This is partly because of its 'sporting' intentions, and partly as Audi claims the A5 is slightly too narrow to fit three adults side-by-side in the back.

This sporting intention is also evident in the engine line-up. The real pick of the range is due to arrive next spring, when the 143PS 2.0-litre diesel joins the ranks. In the meantime the 170PS 2.0-litre diesel is the best business bet, emitting 137g/km CO2 and returning 54.3mpg. It accelerates smoothly - reaching 62mph in 8.7 seconds and has a claimed top speed of 141mph. However, despite this, it doesn't feel as athletic as its Sportback name implies - it is a large car and feels like it through tight corners.

Pricing is an interesting factor for the Sportback. It is cheaper than its three-door coupe sibling, but costlier than the A4 saloon. However, it offers a compelling alternative to the upper medium sector, combining good looks and a dash of extra practicality.

Audi A5 Sportback 2.0TDI 170 S-line 5dr manual
P11D price£29,340
Model price range£25,440-£36,220
Fuel consumption54.3mpg
CO2 (tax) 137g/km(18%)
BIK 20/40% per month£88/£176
Service intervalVariable
Insurancegroup 13
Boot space (min/max)480/980 litres
Engine size/power1968cc/170PS
Top speed/0-62mph141mph/8.7secs
On sale October 2009
VerdictA much more practical car than
the A4, hampered only by that
missing middle rear seat