Driving the Audi A5 & S5 Sportback on the Great Ocean Road

the practical sportback on the open road

Back in March the Audi A5 and S5 coupé were launched, revealed was an exciting clean-sheet design following the previous model’s 10-year reign. Now the next instalment in the A5 range has hit Australian shores with the arrival of the Sportback five-door variant, the more practical and versatile offering in the line-up. Chris Bowen spent a quality few hours touring The Great Ocean Road and Otway National Park in Victoria to get a feel for the five-seater stunner that first arrived back in 2010.

What’s New?

As with the coupé the overall design has evolved without diminishing the already beautiful A5 looks. The side ‘Tornado Line’, enhanced wheel arches, power bonnet bulge and Quattro stance combine to form a piece of fine art.

The car now has a longer wheel base offering rear seat passengers 24mm of extra legroom. The new model is marginally narrower than the outgoing A5 but manages to offer more interior space. It’s up to 80kg lighter depending on the model with numerous weight saving measures such as an aluminium tailgate and redesigned suspension.

The Range

As with the coupé there are four engines to pick from including the S5’s new V6 and all have the same outputs.

  • 0 TFSI S tronic 140kW/320Nm – 5.6 L/100km
  • 0 TDI quattro S tronic 140kW/400Nm – 4.8L/100km
  • 0 TFSI quattro S tronic 185kW/370Nm – 6.5L / 100km
  • 0 TFSI quattro Tiptronic 260kW/500Nm – 7.7L /100km

The Drive

Having driven all engine combinations at the coupé launch I thought I’d stick to the pick of the bunch outside of the S5, the 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic for the entire journey. If you’ve ever driven The Great Ocean Road you’ll understand that not only is it one of the most scenic stretches of landscape in the world but also a freakishly great journey created by the car gods.

My chosen model proved to be almost flawless in the way it carved up hairpins, sweeping bends, S bends and the odd need to effortlessly overtake a grey nomad. The quattro system is quite amazing, providing grip and control beyond most people’s ability. The only complaint that can possibly be made about the way it drives is that you can feel more like a spectator rather than a participant. You literally just point it in the right direction, apply as much throttle within reason you want and the thing will dice up the road with a merry band of electronics looking after all four wheels far more furiously than you could ever possibly perceive. It’s cheating and faking it till you make it, but boy oh boy it’s fun.

The 185kW engine is not wildly fast nor does it hoon along like it’s on fire but rather it’s an accomplished all-rounder. The 0-100km sprint takes six seconds but it’s the flexibility on the fly that floated my boat. Overtaking is brisk and safe, out of corner acceleration is lag-free and the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is on point almost all the time.

The Tech

Again, the class-leading Audi Virtual Cockpit is standard. The instrument cluster a dazzling display of Google Mapping, customisable readouts and access to reams of information usually reserved for a centrally mounted display. The MMI touchpad and controller control a tablet-style screen removing the need for distracting touchscreen inputs.

Also standard is Apple CarPlay and DAB+ radio. The interior layout is the same as the coupé but having now spent a little more time inside I’ve picked up on some new clever little touches. The haptic touch buttons that operate the interior roof lighting can also act as dimmers the more pressure you apply, also simply touching one of the favourite buttons reveals on screen exactly what function you saved there before activating it. Buttons ain’t buttons anymore these days.

Inside

The Sportback variant is almost a proper five-seater, as mentioned there is now more leg room but headroom for anyone over six-feet is always going to be a tad problematic given its raked rear roof-line. Boot space sits at 480-litres and for that Ikea trip the 60:20:60 rear folding seats take it to 1300-litres. Everywhere else is a master display of how to build a car cabin, it even smells sumptuous.

Pricing

Interestingly pricing is the same as the coupé across the range before on roads and the various optional packages.

  • A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI S tronic 140kW $69,900
  • A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic 140kW $73,900
  • A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic 185kW $81,500
  • S5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI quattro Tiptronic 260kW $105,800

Depending on the engine, fuel economy ranges from 4.8l/100km to 7.7l/100km.

EFTM Rubber Stamp of Approval

It’s a big year for the A5 range with a cabriolet and crazy RS5 models still to come this year. Audi expects this Sportback model to account for 52 per cent of sales in the range, which makes sense given is versatility. As good as the coupé model is I found the Sportback more of a grand experience to drive. I see little point in owning a 2 + 2 seater model where the rear space is almost redundant anyway. As far as design excellence goes the new A5 range lifts the bar in 2017 to a level the others will need to match. I award the Audi A5 Sportback the EFTM Distinction Rubber Stamp of Approval.

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Motoring

Chris is EFTM's Motoring Editor, driving everything from your entry level hatch to the latest Luxury cars through to the Rolls Royce. He has been in the media for 20 years, produced three Olympic games broadcasts, attending Beijing 2008 & London 2012. Strangely he owns a Toyota Camry Hybrid, he defiantly rejects the knockers. Chris is married to Gillian and resides in Sydney's North West. They have Sam the English Springer Spaniel and Felix the Burmese cat to keep them company, and recently welcomed baby Henry to the family.
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