From £24,780
Cheapest diesel Sportback could be better

Our Verdict

Audi A5
The Audi A5 is a elegant 3-series sized car, available as a coupe, hatchback or cabriolet

The Audi A5 is a classy coupé, hatchback and cabriolet, but are there talents beneath the pretty bodywork?

2 October 2009

What is it?

It’s most likely to be the best-selling version of the Audi A5 Sportback, one powered by a 2.0-litre diesel mated to a six-speed manual transmission. With 167bhp it’s the least-powerful version of the A5 and, at 137g/km, emits the least CO2.

So it may well be the cheapest to run, but not to buy: it’s undercut by the entry-level petrol turbo. Our test car was the SE specification rather than in popular but too firmly-suspended S-Line trim.

What’s it like?

The A5 Sportback feels beautifully put together inside, with an understated, high-class cabin. The car is virtually the same size as an A4 saloon and apart from losing a fraction of rear headroom, it’s just as accommodating inside. In fact, with the same boot capacity as the A4 saloon, its hatch makes it a more versatile proposition.

Like the A4 and other A5s, though, the Sportback still has an offset driving position, whose skewed off-centre pedals are all the more noticeable through this being a manual. The gearshift itself is a touch notchy but we’ve no complaints about the engine, which is quiet both at idle and when being worked.

The common-rail TDI unit’s spread of usable power is relatively wide, too. And although it’s the least powerful version in the range, it strolls along at a reasonable gait and is still responsive at motorway speeds.”

In truth, that’s where the A5 Sportback works best. You mostly leave all but the throttle alone, while the ride gets more composed as the car goes faster: in standard, rather than S-Line trim, it’s always bearable but is still more knobbly than we’d like around town.

Also on the motorway you don’t notice so much the A5 Sportback’s biggest dynamic irritation: its steering. This varies from over-light at town speeds, but weights up too much, far too quickly, as speed rises and you apply lock. The idea behind it is to make it feel agile around town, yet offering stability and control when cornering. It just needs more consistency though.

Should I buy one?

Audi says the A5 Sportback is a car with no obvious competitors. And to my eyes it has more visual appeal than any other executive saloon or hatch of under £30,000. If that’s your priority, the A5 without S-Line suspension is worth a look. However, dynamically it could, and should, be better.

 

Join the debate

Comments
25

5 October 2009

Back in the late 90s, early 00s the Saxo and some other French cars got destroyed by motoring magazines for offset pedals. Driving a french car even up to the size of a 306 was agony for someone of my height (6 foot) as you had to twist your whole body to drive it.

Yet in a £30,000 car this is just an annoyance? No car should require a driver to sit offset, let alone one with premium pretensions like an Audi. Absolutely appalling.

5 October 2009

[quote Autocar]this is the only A5 Sportback to come with less than 200bhp, [/quote]

that'll be news to Audi: A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI 180 - the clue's in the name

anyone using their own money would do better with this base petrol, £2k less, quicker, lighter, and not that much difference in fuel economy.

5 October 2009

Isn't it possible to not opt for the Servotronic? That way you wont get that weird progression of weight. I've driven an A4 without it and I quite like it. Also driven one with it and it feels very weird and never fluid.

5 October 2009

[quote theonlydt]

Back in the late 90s, early 00s the Saxo and some other French cars got destroyed by motoring magazines for offset pedals. Driving a french car even up to the size of a 306 was agony for someone of my height (6 foot) as you had to twist your whole body to drive it.

Yet in a £30,000 car this is just an annoyance? No car should require a driver to sit offset, let alone one with premium pretensions like an Audi. Absolutely appalling.

[/quote]

Aside from disparaging remarks about the notchy gearchange and irritating dynamics the review also claims the suspension is "bearable".

Bearable!?? I might put up with a long list of annoyances and a "bearable" suspension on a Tata Nano, not on a four banger diesel costing a faintly ridiculous £27,140 before options!

Sadly, it is only the ad revenue - there's a BMW banner trying to get my attention on the page just now - preventing us seeing the truth here, which is that the A5 in any guise is an overpriced, ill conceived ornament for the acutely materialistic, not to mention the least reliable car on sale today.

It can't fail to sell.

5 October 2009

27 grand for a deeply flawed large hatchback. somebody's having a laugh, surely!

5 October 2009

I'll readily admit that certain German brands seem to get off lightly with ride problems in Autocar, but on the other side of the coin perhaps the pedals aren't quite so offset and the ride not quite so bobbly as the cars which have been properly castigated for it?

I find it odd that press offices supply cars on "sport" suspension when nearly every review I've read contains the line, "but you may be better off ordering the standard suspension." Is it just a case of, as mentioned in (IIRC) the 7-series long term report with respect to big wheels, the car looking better in photographs with the full sport kit?

5 October 2009

Maybe Vauxhall know what they are doing!

Recent tests say they look Audi-like and have a decent ride and at a much more realistic price. Its only badge snobbery that keeps something like this moving out of the showroom.

6 October 2009

Despite being pretty acceptable in terms of appearance, cars by Audi suffer from being too simple when it comes to their fronts. The LEDs on the front headlights which form their bottom edge could be somewhere else as an independent unit which would most probably make it look better.

SDR

6 October 2009

[quote theonlydt]theonlydt wrote the following post at Oct 05, 2009 3:44 PM:

Back in the late 90s, early 00s the Saxo and some other French cars got destroyed by motoring magazines for offset pedals. Driving a french car even up to the size of a 306 was agony for someone of my height (6 foot) as you had to twist your whole body to drive it.

Yet in a £30,000 car this is just an annoyance? No car should require a driver to sit offset, let alone one with premium pretensions like an Audi. Absolutely appalling.

[/quote]

Couldn't agree more - the pedal positioning in the A4/A5 platform is monumentally unacceptable to any sane person. How you could possibly choose to spend 30k on a car that forces such fundamental compromises on its driver it utterly beyond me.

I drive an Audi, I saw an A5 sportback in the dealer only last week and loved everything else about it, and I've never had any real problem with the ride in a recent Audi. However the pedal positioning and complete absence of left leg/foot room in this platform makes it as desirable to me as dentistry without anaesthetic - a great disappointment and the single reason why my next car will almost certainly not have four rings on the front. It sure as hell won't have an A4 or A5 badge on the back!

6 October 2009

[quote SDR]the pedal positioning in the A4/A5 platform is monumentally unacceptable to any sane person.[/quote]

I doubt very much Audi, with their core A4/A5 platform, set out to insanely engineer the RHD version, to deliberately make it 'monumentally unacceptable'. Could we have some more objective evidence for this, either from Autocar's people's opinions or from other credible sources.

One thing to consider is that as more cars, especially VW Group cars, become equipped with DSG gearboxes, a larger and larger percentage will only have two pedals in the footwell. Are we saying that even two pedal A4/A5 cars have pedal offset, making them 'monumentally unacceptable', or is it just the diminishing number of three pedal, manual box cars, that leave little space for the left foot, aside from the clutch pedal? Less hyperbole, more objectivity.

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