What is it?
Somewhere in Audi’s product planning division, somebody identified the yawning chasm between the A4 and the A6 and decided to fill it with a three-model range of cars. This five-door version is Germany’s Rover Vitesse and it’s the last – and cheapest – of the A5 range.
It borrows heavily from the A4 in every aspect. It’s close enough on length and wheelbase for the judges to call for the high-zoom photo at the post and it’s almost identical on headroom as well, even at the back. This version is a strict four-seater, though not for Audi fanciful concepts like cabin-length central consoles. Instead, it provides just four seat belts to make its point, though the back seat could easily carry three people.
The big difference between this and the A5 Sportback tested by Autocar recently is that this one was fitted with Audi’s Drive Assist, a multi-function software system that can be optioned up to control everything from the suspension to the gearbox and from the steering to the throttle mapping.
It also runs Comfort, Automatic and Dynamic settings, more of which…
What’s it like?
…Now. Without this system in place, the A5 Sportback is at best underdone below decks and at worst, over the choppy, poorly maintained roads that snake over Tuscany’s hills and mountains, dreadful.
In one fell swoop, the electronics umbrella changes all of that. The differences are immediate, even before we’ve left the driveway. Bumps we braced for and dips that tested the bump stops are treated disdainfully in Automatic mode.
Where these types of systems often trend towards a wallowing (read: American plush) ride in their Comfort modes, the Sportback does no such thing. Instead, it seems to focus its attention on the elimination of lateral head-toss as much as it does vertical thumps, and it also reduces the otherwise-tremendous noise of the bumps entering the cabin.
Automatic mode is the default setting and that’s where most people will leave it, so it’s a relief to find that it also gets the job done a lot better than those poor, unfortunate A5 Sportbacks with standard suspensions, but the star of the show is Sport.