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.