Audi A5 Sportback 2.0TDI 2009 Road Test

Wed, 09 Sep 2009

Another day and the Audi A5 Sportback is yet another new model from a manufacturer that seems determined to create every single permutation possible. 

That is the essence of niche marketing. Long gone are the days when all you could offer was a saloon or a station wagon. Now, temptation needs to come in every shape and form: saloon, wagon, coupe, convertible, SUV, and, to round it off, a fastback just like Rover used to do with the 800. Except Audi has done it very much better.

To tempt you or your company out of £23,710 to £36,220 + maybe £5,000 worth of extras, Audi offers sleek appeal. And it’s not hard to see the logic.

Here is a large hatchback with a big 480-litre boot that looks so much like a coupe that ‘flashback’ might be a more appropriate moniker. You can get four inside, in comfort, each through their own door, plus a nipper in a child seat between the two in the back. So why would you have a dull saloon when you show off in a car looking like this?

Audi has been quite clever with A5 Sportback power trains, too. All except for the 3.2V6 petrol are under 180g/km CO2, and, whatever carbon foot-in-it your company decrees, you can still have decent performance. 0-60 in 8.4 and a top speed of 142mph is far from bad from a motor that blows out a mere 137g/km CO2 and saves you a small fortune in BIK tax.

And that was the version we drove. Impressively stable. Reasonably punchy. A decent cruiser. Exceptionally solid. 50mpg potential. You can impress your clients as well as Friends of the Earth.

Our car was, however, as loaded as a lottery winner, though without showing it very much. It had optional 18” wheels with tyres that remind you of every imperfection in the road surface. Black leather multi-adjustable seats. And other additions, not all immediately evident, that had increased the price from a stiff £27,140 to a jaw dropping £32,000. (Remember, accessorising adds to your BIK, so while low CO2 lowers the percentage, a high On Road Price means higher tax.)

There are some good bits and bad bits about the design. Whoever thought of extending the indicator lens on the door mirror to make its blinking obvious deserves the German equivalent of a knighthood. Cost nothing to do and works brilliantly. However, the Herr who decided the cruise control was so unsightly it needed a good hiding behind the steering wheel should be sentenced to six months as a foot masseuse. Obviously, owners will eventually feel their way how to operate it. But I would have had to stop and fiddle.

The Audi A5 Sportback is an impressive looking car. It will appeal to anyone who wants saloon room with coupe looks, and that could be a thirty something with a young family, or a recently retired thinking as much of his grand children as impressing his mates at the golf club.

Niche fulfilled, as they say.

A5 3.0V6TDI and S5 V8 coupe test at

A5 cabrio test at (includes video)

A4 B8 Avant test at

A4 B8 double test at

Q5 test at (includes video)

Please click on the tabs for prices, specs, dimensions and performance figures.

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