Audi A5 Sportback. By Kenny Yeo
AT A GLANCE:
ENGINE 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder
POWER 252hp / 370nm
FUEL CONSUMPTION, COMBINED 15.62km/l
PRICE $266,680 inclusive COE
The A5 is one of Audi’s newest models. It was introduced in 2007 to address the desire for coupestyle executive cars. To meet the needs of family people, a 4-door Sportback version was introduced. This particular model, despite being a 4-door saloon, retains its coupe looks thanks to a tapering fastback roofline. It combined looks with practicality and proved to be popular.
Now, there’s a new second generation version of the A5 Sportback. The big news for petrolheads is that it was built on the Volkswagen Group’s new MLB platform. This platform will enable brands within the Volkswagen Group to build cars more efficiently. To do so, the position of the engine and transmission is uniform across models, this will cut down on engineering costs and complexities when building other models. Currently the MLB platform is used to build other Audi models like the A5, Q5, A4, A8, and more. It is also used in the Volkswagen Phideon and even the Porsche Macan.
"The A5 Sportback melds practicality and performance into one handsome and svelte package."
The new A5 Sportback is available in various guises. The entry-level model has a 2.0-liter turbocharged fourcylinder motor that puts out 188hp and 320nm of torque. But it doesn’t have Audi Quattro technology and is driven only by the front wheels. The middle of pack model also has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine but it develops 252hp and 370nm of torque. Finally, there’s the top of the range S5 that has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 that produces 354hp and 500nm of torque. The model I got to drive was the mid-range model, which is also possibly the model that most prospective buyers will be eyeing.
The outgoing A5 was a handsome car and the new A5 Sportback doesn’t disappoint. Thanks to creases and lines across the bonnet and on the flanks of the car, it looks more purposeful and sporty than its predecessor. Most of all, its sloping roofline gives it a snazzy silhouette that regular saloons cannot hope to match. Pick the A5 Sportback in a sportier color like red or white, and I guarantee it will be a headturner.
The interior is as smart as the exterior. Climb inside the car and the first thing that greets you is the Audi virtual cockpit. In place of analog dials, the A5 Sportback gets a 12.3-inch high-resolution LCD screen that can be customized to show the driver the most relevant driving information. The A5 Sportback also gets an extremely useful heads-up display, which shows driving speed and navigation information in an unobtrusive manner on the windscreen. The heads-up display lets drivers keep their eyes on the road by saving them the trouble of having to glance down at the dashboard to check their speed and look at navigation instructions.
Despite the sloping roofline, space within the car is actually quite good. Unless you are tall (above 1.8 meters), there’s suffi cient headroom in the rear seats. The large tailgate is motorized and lifts quickly to reveal a boot that has generous capacity. The rear seats can even be folded flat to further increase boot space. That said, the low roofline means you shouldn’t get too ambitious about storing big items.
Like all other modern Audis, the A5 Sportback has Audi Drive Select, which lets users change the mood of the vehicle. “Comfort” puts the car in its most relaxed setting. The suspension is at its softest and the steering feels less urgent. Throttle response is also numbed. In this mode, the A5 Sportback becomes an easygoing and cushy cruiser. Set it in “Dynamic,” however, and the car livens up. Steering becomes more accurate and responsive, while throttle response quickens and gear changes become noticeably more ferocious. The car now wants to hang onto gears longer to get the most out of the drivetrain.
It’s a clever system and the A5 Sportback is a really capable driver’s car. Obviously, it doesn’t match Audi’s more illustrious S or RS models for outright performance or driving dynamics, but for an executive saloon it’s really good. Steering feel in Dynamic mode is quite precise and sweet, and the 2.0-liter turbocharged motor is an absolute peach. The car even pipes in some synthetic engine noises in Dynamic mode to make things a little more exciting. Purists will frown at this piece of gimmickry, but I think most owners will enjoy the added bit of drama in their daily drives. I certainly did.
Competition is definitely not lacking in this segment of the market and the A5 Sportback has formidable adversaries from its longtime German rivals. What the A5 Sportback off ers, however, is a potent cocktail of handsome good looks, a clever interior, practicality, and performance. It was one of the most enjoyable cars I’ve driven and for that, I would heartily recommend anyone looking for an executive saloon to check out the new Audi A5 Sportback.
The motorized tailgate makes loading items into the boot easy.
The interior is thoroughly modern, intuitive, and smart.
The virtual cockpit is made up of a 12.3-inch high-resolution LCD display.