What is it?
A five-door version of the Audi S5 Coupé, for exactly the same £47,000 price tag, and what’s not to like about that? Well, not a lot, it turns out.
While the Audi S5 Sportback uses exactly the same 349bhp, turbocharged 3.0 V6, 8-spd Tiptronic and permanent quattro four-wheel drive setup as the coupé, it does have a 6cm longer wheelbase, so there is a bit more to it than ‘just’ the extra doors.
That added length has allowed for a decent sized boot beneath the useful hatchback opening (rather than the booted opening of the S5 Coupé) and you also get a three-person rear bench rather than the Coupé’s strictly two-seater job.
What’s it like?
Discreet yet rampant in the way it gets up the road. Stick it in Dynamic and you get the piped-in engine noise to make it more obvious just how much speed you’re gaining – and it’ll be a lot, given the voracious way the V6 spins through to its redline. But even then, the S5 feels definitively and unashamedly more fast, luxury GT rather than sports car.
The same can be said of its handling. Our car came on standard 19in alloys but with £900 adaptive dampers, which are well worth adding. Even over quite severely roughed-up British B-roads, our S5 smoothed out the niggly stuff, leaving you with a bit of heaving over long wave bumps but otherwise a composed and unflustered ride. Needless to say, lope out onto the motorway and you’ll be relaxing all the way to the boardroom, given that refinement and directional stability are as excellent as you’d expect but for some slightly thrummy tyre noise in the background.
Our car also had the £950 Dynamic steering, which brings a variable-ratio rack. We’d steer clear (excuse the pun) of this particular addition, since it makes for an overly aggressive turn-in at higher speeds that can make the car feel quite nervous at just the wrong moment. The standard steering will be more progressive and generally a bit easier to get on with. You’ll still be left wanting if you’re after something with real character and involvement, though. Crushingly effective the S5 Sportback might be, but it’s no fingertip-tingling driver’s car; a BMW 440i Gran Coupé certainly feels a bit more on its toes.
Given the interior benefits of the S5 Sportback, you’d have to really want the more purposeful looks of the Coupé to plump for that instead. Three passengers in the back of the Sportback is going to be a bit uncomfortable, but two adults will have decent legroom even behind a tall driver, while headroom is a bit more at a premium but will be okay for sub-six footers.
The boot is a good size – deeper than you might expect and with a good floor space, so it’ll be big enough for whatever boot-fillings an A5 Sportback buyer is likely to be concerned with. The 40/20/40 split rear bench also fold down to leave a smooth, long loadbay, so it’ll manage for the odd Ikea trip as well.
Everything in the driver’s environment is seriously impressive. You get the 8.3in screen with sat-nav , DAB and two USB inputs, as well as electrically adjustable, heated nappa leather sports seats, and a long list of other comfort and safety features as standard, so you don’t need to plunder the options list even though you probably will.
Should I buy one?
It’d be very easy at this point to start muttering about niche choices. But in reality, this is not a niche list of requirements at all, and if it happens to match your wants and needs, then the S5 Sportback is a very fine choice. Comfortable yet sporty-ish, practical yet sleek, rampantly fast yet with the potential to do a fair economy when you hit the motorway.
Sure, a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé will deliver more satisfaction if you’re erring towards wanting ‘proper’ sports car dynamics. Having said that, many buyers want the security of four-wheel drive, and with adaptive dampers the S5 will very likely ride with more aplomb than the Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic. So, yes – if you’re looking for something of this ilk, the Audi S5 Sportback should be top of your shortlist.
Audi S5 Sportback
Location Northamptonshire, UK; On sale Now; Price £47,000; Engine 2995cc, V6, turbo, petrol; Power 349bhp at 5400-6400rpm; Torque 369lb ft at 1370-4500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd auto, four-wheel drive; Kerb weight 1660kg; 0-62mph 4.7sec; Top speed 155mph (limited); Economy 37.7mpg; CO2/tax band 170g/km, 31% Rivals BMW 440i Gran Coupe, Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC
What is it?