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2013 Audi A5 Sportback Review

By on October 11, 2012
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This middle child has some spunk.

Good: Gorgeous looks with the S-line package and Rotor rims; Decent performance on 2-liter turbo engine; Great handling from Quattro system; Precisely laid out interior.
Bad: Standard features like BT audio and rear camera, among others, are optional; All engines under the 3-liter turbo may feel underpowered.
Price: AED 183,500 (starting for 2.0T)
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Exterior

 

The Audi A5 was designed to be a coupe version of the A4, but with the recent facelift introduced last year, things have changed a bit for this rather niche product line. Coming in with the fastback version of the A5 coupe, we get a full 5-seater family car that brings the beauty and dynamic edge of the A5 coupe, but a stately design that’s more in line with the A6.

The A5 Sportback is an excellent in-between car for those who want a family sedan, but don’t want the somewhat constricted space of the A4, nor the executive feel of the A6. The best thing is that the A5 Sportback brings all the beautifully sculpted curves of the coupe version with it, making it one of the most beautiful sedans, or 4-door coupe if you will, on the market, besides the elder sibling, the A7 of course.

Indeed the front fascia of the A5 Sportback looks a lot like the A6, except the grill is lower hung with headlights that don’t look as angry on the A5 as they do on the A6. What you get instead of the admittedly bland looking sides of the A6 are sweeping curves and bulges near the fenders at just the right angles to give the A5 Sportback both an elegant and muscular look.

The fastback design may not appeal to many, but it certainly gives the car a unique look, not to mention a level of practicality as well. Basically the rear windshield starts just over the headrest of the rear seats, providing the rear passengers more room. It’s a psychological effect that makes you feel like you’re not constricted in the back seats.

Overall, though, there’s nothing to complaint about the Audi A5 Sportback’s exterior, especially with the optional S-line bodykit. The fat tires wrapped around the 5-spoked rotor design with titanium finish complements the wide body of the A5. The daytime running LEDs with the straight angular lines bring home the complete package of elegance and underlying workmanship that exudes from most Audis.

Interior

Open up the A5 Sportback and you’ll see quintessential German engineering at work. From the black leather seats to the door and console upholstery, to the aluminum trim paneling, everything is fitted with the type of near clinical precision you won’t find on American or Asian cars.

The main dashboard along with the centre console area is angled towards the driver. One thing I noticed in with our test unit was the fact that it didn’t come with the navigation system or the Audi MMI (Multimedia Interface) system. So basically no maps or even Bluetooth audio from my Android smartphone, although I did manage to get the phone connected to make & receive calls, along with having access to the entire contact list.

The screen controls are below the air conditioning vents, which means to access them the driver will have to lean forward a bit to be able to operate thing; not the most intuitive control design. Speaking of which, the A/C fan speed control isn’t directly accessible, making it a two step process to click the fan button and then turn the temperature dial knob to adjust fan speed. This control mechanism is across most Audis and I do hope they change it to something much simpler in the future. Like having an actual knob/ switch to adjust fan speeds.

The interior sound-proofing is just what you’d expect from an Audi; virtually no outside noise between 80 to 100kmph, and just little bit of wind noise at 120kmph. It’s certainly not as silent as the A6, but you’d be hard pressed to notice the difference at highway speeds.

The S-line package along with the 5-arm “Rotor” rims also come with the Sports suspension, which, coupled with the Quattro all-wheel drive system, makes for a brilliantly controlled ride. Although, the slightly firm suspension does require you to literally crawl on speed humps, this is completely offset by the excellent grip around corners.

The rear passengers, as I mentioned earlier, have about the same legroom as the A6, but it feels a lot roomier because of the extra sloping rear windshield on the fastback body.

The Drive

Our review A5 Sportback came with the 2.0T, 2-liter turbocharged engine producing 211hp and 350Nm torque, which is enough to push the 1.8-ton car from 0 to 100kmph in 7.3 seconds. Nothing remarkable, but given the 11-liters/ 100km overall fuel consumption (with heavy city driving), I’d say that’s a decent compromise. Otherwise you always have the option to go with the 3-liter turbo which goes from 0 to 100kmph in 6 seconds flat, that is if you can pony up another AED 25.5K.

The aforementioned Quattro all-wheel drive system in the A5 Sportback certainly gives it a strong spirited character which will take a good thrashing around the corners and almost never let your tires slip on straights. The 2.0T engine certainly looses steam if you want to floor it beyond 120kmph, with the turbo kicking in well after a second while the gear decides that to drop down one more to give you the push you’d really want.

One of the cool features on the A5 Sportback is where the engine turns off when you hold the brake, turning on when you lift your foot off the brakes. It exists solely for the purpose of saving fuel. Obviously the car itself is on, with all the electronics and the a/c running. It’s smart enough to detect when you’re in traffic so as not to stop the engine just as you’re going to crawl forward in heavy traffic.

The other cool feature was the auto parking assist whereby the handbrake will automatically be activated when the car comes to a complete halt, deactivating when you press the accelerator. Both these features work great on their own, and can also be deactivated if you don’t feel comfortable with them. Sadly they don’t work in tandem, so that at the signal when you press the brake and the A5 stops and the auto handbrake comes on, the engine won’t turn off. Something I’m sure the engineers at Audi will figure out in the coming models, but for now these two systems work independent of each other.

The steering wheel remains butter smooth, with minimal effort required to turn the car, so effective is Audi’s ‘Dynamic Steering’ system. No car that I’ve driven to date has steering this pleasant. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that despite all this luxury, the road surface isn’t muted on the steering wheel, where I could feel the touch of the A5 Sportback on the road.

At the end of the day the Audi A5 Sportback is an excellent car on its own, but to truly feel the luxury of a high-end car, you’re going to have to add a lot of very expensive optional extras. That said, if nothing else, I’d recommend getting the S-line exterior package with the Rotor rims which will give you one of the best looking cars on the road. Whether you want more performance and luxury to go along with it depends entirely on how deep your pockets go.

 


About

From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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