From £24,780
Extra practicality of rear cabin should help bolster appeal of revised sports hatch
Julian Rendell
3 December 2011

What is it?

Here’s a good reason to put the Audi A5 Sportback on your buying list – a fifth seatbelt. This £220 option, which makes the cabin into a family-friendly 2+3-seater, turns the stylish Sportback into a practical, alternative-looking sports hatch, if you feel the need to squeeze in an extra child or teen passenger.

Significant numbers do, Audi says, adding that the four-seat cabin standard on the original Sportback gave too many people a reason not to buy. As a result, it predicts improved Sportback sales at roughly similar levels to the two-door A5.

What’s it like?

There are other significant reasons to like this facelifted and revised Sportback, notably a more compliant ride, even in hard core S Line spec, and better fuel economy/emissions, which reduce running costs.

Specifically, the rear axle features revised bushings while the dynamic setting in the optional £220 Drive Select adjustable suspension features revised damper and steering tune. It retains responsive steering, snappy throttle response and good body control, yet allows the suspension to breath over bumps; the effect possibly boosted by the optional 18inch Dunlop winter tyres fitted to our test car.

Also new is a Drive Select efficiency setting, the fifth in the menu, which dulls throttle response to improve fuel economy, and ensures the A5 stays in touch with the new BMW 3-Series, which offers a similar dashboard-selectable economy program.

With a more powerful and torquier 2.0-litre diesel under the bonnet, Audi has raised the whole A5 range’s game in the face of tough competition coming from the new 3-series.

In fact Audi is claiming the Sportback as the most frugal in its class with 60.1mpg. We saw over 50mpg on the trip meter at times, although that dropped back to the late-30s during more spirited driving. And the headline 120g/km figure is strong for road tax and company car tax calculations.

Should I buy one?

The A5 Sportback still looks fresh, sporty and quite expensive. With an extra dose of practicality, it makes a much better case as an interesting alternative to a regulation four-door sports saloon.

Audi A5 Sportback 2.0TDI S Line

Price: £31,895; Top speed: 142mph; 0-62mph: 8.5sec; Economy: 60.1mpg; Co2: 120g/km; Kerbweight: 1590kg; Engine type, cc: four-cylinder diesel, VGT turbo, direct-injection; Power: 175bhp at 4200rpm; Torque: 280lb ft at 1750 – 2500rpm; Gearbox: six-speed manual

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Overdrive 12 December 2011

Re: Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI S Line

Another previous Audi driver here. I had an A4 as a company car for two years. It was a 2.0 litre multitronic model. It proved pretty reliable during my time with it, but boy was it dull to drive. Despite decent-ish grip, it had dead steering, nose-led handling, engine sound of a old fridge and pretty poor performance. And to matters worse, the ride was pretty mediocre too.

To sum up, it was nice enough to own, but nowhere near nice to drive given its "premium" aspirations. To be fair my car was the previous generation A4, so the newer one, along with this A5, must (surely) be better to drive.

ronmcdonald 12 December 2011

Re: Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI S Line

Engelbert wrote:
Not only are Audi's expensive to buy - but they are expensive to maintain once they are about 5-6 years old with 60-80,000 miles on the odometer. Ask any experienced mechanic and he will confirm.
The PR and salespeople of VAG will deny it as will any Audi owner who's just forked out £££'s on their car (I was one of them), but from your experience mechanic's point of view, an Audi is no more expensive to maintain once it's 5-6 years old (60-80k) than a VW, a Skoda or a Seat. Why? because mechanically, it's the same car using the same parts.

arh09 12 December 2011

Re: Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI S Line

Engelbert wrote:
Not only are Audi's expensive to buy - but they are expensive to maintain once they are about 5-6 years old with 60-80,000 miles on the odometer. Ask any experienced mechanic and he will confirm.

This appears to be based on yet more "received wisdom" rather than any real experience you have with the car, which seems to be typical of the Autocar forum. I hesitate to suggest that any experienced mechanic "confirming" that Audis are expensive to maintain is happy to perpetuate that myth when the time comes to present an invoice.

I owned a 2002 A4 for nearly seven years and 120k miles (bought with 10k on the clock), and apart from scheduled servicing and consumables (cam belts, brake discs etc) it needed absolutely no money to be spent on it. The main dealer menu servicing rates are not too bad, especially with long life service intervals (mine ranged from 19k miles to 24k between services depending on my type of motoring) and they offer lower rates on certain jobs for privately owned cars over three years old. They even do free MOTs for private owners if it's serviced in the dealer network.

Cam belts and brake discs can be a bit dear at the dealers, but I used a really good local independent Audi/VW specialist for those jobs.

As for it being expensinve to buy, I got an excellent deal when I bought it as an ex-demonstrator and when I sold it there was a lot of interest in it and it still fetched good money when the likes of a Mondeo or Vectra of the same age would have been worth pocket money.

Overall I would say that owning the car was an utterly painless experience, it was probably the cheapest to run of any car I have owned and I would definitely have had another if it was not for the fact that the new A4 was just too big for my needs.

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