What is it?
No question – Audi’s five door A5 Sportback has been a hit. Before the A5, the Audi A4 scored around a quarter of sales in the compact premium class, but with this platform-and segment-sharing pair it has snared a third of the market, even if A4 sales have dropped slightly.
Now, four years after the launch of the coupe that was the first A5, the whole range gets a refresh. There are subtle changes to the exterior, the cabin, steering, suspension and some revised engines, the most impressive of which is the 1.8 TFSI petrol tested here. Stop-start is standard for every model, be it manual or auto.
This revised 1.8 is the third generation of the EA888 four cylinder that Audi engineers for VW group use – the 2.0 litre version follows in mid-2012 – and it now features a combustion strategy that toggles between direct and indirect injection, enhanced variable valve lift and intelligent cooling.
Friction-reducing measures include roller-bearing balancer shafts, while an electronically managed wastegate and an integrated exhaust manifold also yield efficiency improvements. Together with fuel-saving electronic power steering it produces a competitive combined consumption of 43.1 and 134g/km of CO2 emissions, but more impressive than these stats is a torque curve whose early 1400rpm 236lb ft peak is sustained through to 3700rpm.