Audi A5 Sportback

Sport 2.0 TDI ultra

S tronic

Audi A5 Sportback, front quarter
Audi A5 Sportback, dynamic
Audi A5 Sportback, dynamic 2
Audi A5 Sportback, rear quarter
Audi A5 Sportback, controls
Audi A5 Sportback, interior detail
Audi A5 Sportback, interior
Audi A5 Sportback, boot

FOR many years the Audi A4 has been the epitome of an executive car - a template by which many of its rivals in the class are benchmarked.

Sometimes, though, buyers want something a little more alluring than a saloon sitting in their space in the company car park, which is where the A5 Sportback comes in.

Based on the same platform as the A4, it takes the more dynamic lines of the A5 Coupe and throws in an extra few inches and a couple of back doors - producing an attractive package with added space and practicality.

By Audi's often under-stated standards it is a handsome car, with a bold and muscular front end, sweeping fastback-style roofline and powerful looking raised haunches.

It comes in the brand's familiar SE, Sport and S Line trim levels as well as the performance-focused S5 guise with a range of powerful but largely economical petrol and diesel engines.

The 190ps 2.0-litre diesel engine in this car was paired with a slick seven-speed automatic gearbox that is standard across much of the range - and it's a combination which provides smooth and refined progress.

Gear changes are timely and un-intrusive, with paddles on the steering wheel offering the driver the chance to intervene if desired, while peak torque of 400Nm between 1,750 and 3,000 revs ensures plenty of mid-range punch.

Impressive fuel economy, with a claimed 68.9 miles per gallon on average for the environmentally-focused ultra variant, will also please business buyers.

Steering is accurate and well-weighted and, coupled with a supple but well-balanced suspension, makes for some solid and assured handling.

Cornering is flat and there's plenty of grip, with all but the worst imperfections in the road surface being ironed out effectively, making for an enjoyable and relaxing driving experience - although not as overtly engaging as the coupe-like looks might suggest.

That's not a bad thing, however, as the more laid back GT-style character of the A5 perfectly suits long-distance cruising, while also negotiating stop-start urban traffic without fuss.

Interior quality is what you'd expect from Audi. Plush soft-touch materials give the cabin a luxurious look and feel, and there are plenty of storage cubbies for passengers' personal belongings.

Its extra length also means there is good legroom in the rear of the Sportback and headroom is not as compromised as you might expect, despite that swooping roofline.

It is worth pointing out, though, that a large transmission tunnel and narrow middle seat in the back mean that this car is probably best regarded as a four seater when carrying adults - although three kids will probably manage on shorter journeys.

The boot, at 480 litres, also offers plenty of usable space, with access made easier by the hatchback-style powered tailgate, while the 40/20/40 split folding rear seats offer versatile extra load capacity.

Standard equipment and technology is generous across the range and includes xenon headlights, four-mode drive select system, multi-media interface with seven-inch colour screen, smartphone connectivity, three-zone climate control and twin leather upholstery.

Stepping up to the mid-range Sport trim of my car adds some exterior styling enhancements, satnav and electrically adjustable front sport seats with electric lumbar support.

Annoyingly, Audi still insists on keeping some niceties, found as standard on much cheaper cars, for the options list. A rear view camera, for instance, will set you back an extra £450.

FAST FACTS

Audi A5 Sportback Sport 2.0 TDI ultra S tronic

Price: £35,795

Mechanical: 190PS, 1,968cc diesel engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic transmission

Max Speed: 130mph

0-62mph: 7.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 68.9

Insurance Group: 28

C02 emissions: 106g/km

Bik rating: 21%

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