What is it?
A car that is set to make life exceedingly difficult for Audi’s recently introduced S5 coupé, no doubt – the 2017 S5 Sportback.
Offering an extra pair of doors and a versatile liftback-style tailgate over its two-door sibling, the new five-seater has been developed from the ground up as part of the second-generation A5 Sportback line-up. Among its rivals are the BMW 440i GranCoupé and Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupé.
It might be all-new but the styling of the S5 Sportback is predictable. Having hit on a formula with the first-generation model that appeared to sit well with its customers, Audi has resisted any urge to adopt major design changes. It's a lot more striking in the metal than in pictures, especially on optional 19in wheels, but you have to wonder whether Audi has done enough to ensure it will still look fresh towards the end of its seven-year model cycle.
Based on Audi's latest MLB platform, the S5 Sportback has grown, albeit only slightly. Length is up by 21mm, width extends by 11mm and height has decreased by 5mm. The wheelbase is also 14mm longer than before, extending to 2824mm. As with the latest S5 coupé, it receives a slightly different chassis than the S4 saloon, with respective front and rear track widths of 1587mm and 1568mm.
The bump in dimensions provides the basis for a 17mm lengthening of the cabin, allowing incremental increases in rear leg room and additional boot space. Yet despite growing in size, the new S5 Sportback boasts a commendable 85kg reduction in weight over predecessor, at 1660kg.
Under the bonnet is a new turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine. The 60deg unit forms part of the modular EA838 range of engines, the most powerful of which is destined to power the upcoming RS5 Sportback. Innovations include Audi’s patented valve lift system, with continuously adjusting camshafts and centre-mounted spark plugs contributing to improved combustion efficiency and improved response.
With 349bhp, the new engine delivers 21bhp more than its predecessor, but more important is a 45lb ft lift in torque, to 369lb ft, produced between 1380 and 4500rpm.
The S5 Sportback receives an eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox as standard, with a Tiptronic shift function and steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
Drive is sent to all four wheels via the latest version of Audi’s Torsen torque-sensing quattro four-wheel drive system. Under normal conditions, 40% of drive is sent to the front wheels and the remaining 60% to the rear, but depending on prevailing grip, up to 70% of drive can now be sent to the front or up to 85% to the rear. A sport differential, which continuously varies the amount of drive to each individual rear wheel, is available as an option.