IT'S not the newest kid on the block, but few large family cars can measure up the Audi A5 Sportback when it comes to blending near-perfect proportions with everyday practicality.
Not only does it look balanced and appealing from just about every angle, but it's actually a hatchback which makes its aesthetics all the more difficult to achieve. So often, large five-door cars appear poorly proportioned and a tad ungainly.
As with most Audis, there's an array of engines to choose from with diesels proving the most popular.
If you want to blend decent economy with thump-in-the-back power, there's the 3.0 TDI which belts out an impressive 245bhp and sends the five-seater on to an electronically limited 155mph and with an abundant supply of torque - 369lb/ft - there's little need to cling to gear ratios for rapid overtaking.
To handle the generous helpings of power, it gets quattro four-wheel-drive which allows the momentum to be transferred efficiently and undramatically to the road without any unseemly tyre-scrabbling. It also adds a useful safety net when trying to negotiate slippery or snowy roads.
With CO2 emissions of just 159g/km and real life economy of close to 40mpg, the 3.0 TDI incurs benefit in kind tax of just 29% making it reasonable to run for company car drivers - the largest purchasing group for this model.
As a business express, refinement and ease of driving is paramount. While a number of four-cylinder diesels can be harsh and a tad clattery, six-cylinder models tend to be more restrained and muted and the Audi V6 turbo diesel is one of the best examples. Despite possessing ample clout, it remains hushed and muted with very little sign of vibration.
With S Line suspension fitted to this car, the ride is firm and sporty - perhaps a little too solid over poor surfaces for some tastes. But it certainly banishes any sense of ‘body-float' over undulating roads.
Handling and road holding is confident and neutral. Most of the time you are unaware of the four-wheel-drive system - only when the tyres bite through a greasy surface are you reminded of the extra available grip.
Based on the platform of the A4 saloon, the A5 Sportback has similar luggage dimensions but the hatchback design makes it more flexible.
With the rear seats in position there's space for 480 litres of cargo and almost 1,000 litres when the seats are folded. Luggage must be lifted over a boot lip which can be tricky with heavy items.
Headroom in the rear is marginally less than the A4 and the sloping roofline reduces visibility slightly - a price you pay for those elegant lines.
Equipment is generous in the £41,090 S Line and includes, leather seating, xenon lights, parking sensors, S Tronic automatic gearbox, and sat nav.
The quality of cabin materials is high giving the model an appropriately premium feel. Front seats are well-shaped and comfortable and the controls fall easily to hand. It's a driver-oriented cabin...and all the better for it.