Audi A5 Sportback

Audi A5 Sportback

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Back in the 20th century, the car industry was a lot more clear cut in defining its products. Sedans had four doors and a boot while hatchbacks, depending on variant, were either three or five-doored. Growing bigger, we had pickups and SUVs, which were proper four-wheel drives. Then, to transport goods or a lot of people, most usually resorted to vans.

In recent years, the lines between the segments became muddled, thanks no doubt to the brilliance of the marketing and product planning guys, who started inventing new market segments. This brought us products like the soft-roader, for people who want the height and looks of a four-wheel drive, but still want it to drive like a car. Then came the multi-purpose vehicle, which had the awesome cargo/people carrying capacities of vans, but fused with some creature comforts and style, that a van obviously does not have.

The insanity has gone even further in the last couple of years as the manufacturers started to introduce niches between niches, coming up with products that overlapped two (or more) segments. Many such products are usually some sort of cross over between a coupe and/or SUV and something else. In older times, most of us conjure up images of two-doored vehicles when we think of the word coupe. Not any more.

Mercedes got the ball rolling with its now famous four-door coupe – the CLS. It’s arch nemesis in Munich came up with something even more outrageous – the X6, which they brand as a Sports Activity Coupe, essentially a fusion of a four-door coupe with an SUV. Now, the coupe door-count is set to increase to five, with Audi introducing the new A5 Sportback, penciled to go on sale in Europe this September. Initial images released by Audi, which consist only of a sketch showing the body shape and an upclose shot of the tailgate, shows inspiration being drawn from the BMW 5-series GT.

Designer’s sketch of the
Audi A5 Sportback.

While BMW stopped short of officially labeling the 5 GT as a coupe, only describing it as a car with a coupe-like silhoutte, Audi had no such hesitation. As far as Ingolstadt is concerned, the A5 Sportback is a five-door coupe. Its brief is to combine the elegance of a coupe, the comfort of a sedan, and the practicality of an avant (as Audi calls its estates) into one stylish and shapely package.

Audi claims that the A5 Sportback has comparable leg and headroom with the A4 sedan, providing figures to back up their claims. The A5 Sportback has a roofline 36mm lower than the A4 sedan, and a wheelbase measuring at 2,810mm like the A4. Figures like these can be misleading, so we’re not buying into Audi’s claim just yet. Do not forget that the lowered roofline would also need to accomodate the hinge mechanism of the tailgate, which a saloon would not have.

Roofline is only 36mm lower than A4 sedan.

There will be five powerplant options available for the A5 Sportback upon launch – two petrol and three diesel, all of which feature direct fuel injection and comply with Euro 5 emission standards. For the petrol variants, we have the famous 211hp 2.0 TFSI engine along with the 265hp 3.2 V6, both of which are offered together with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.

The 2.0 TDI, which is the entry level model of the Sportback range, features the same 170hp/350Nm turbodiesel powerplant as the VW Golf GTD mated with a six-speed manual transmission and fitted with a start/stop function. Moving up the range, we have a 2.7 TDI good for 190hp & 400Nm. On top of the diesel range is the 3.0 V6 TDI quattro, which produces 240hp & 500Nm.

Optionally available on the A5 Sportback is the Audi drive select system, which allows the driver to choose between three different modes determining throttle response, gear shifting points (for S-tronic or multitronic), and steering response. It must, however, be ordered together with any one or more of the following: adaptive shock absorber control, continuously variable assistance dynamic steering, and quattro with sport differential, with the latter applicable only to the 3.0 TDI and 3.2 FSI.

The A5 Sportback will go on sale in Europe this September with the entry level 2.0 TDI offered at a starting price of €36k. By mid-2010, a new entry level model, presumably a 1.8 TFSI will go on sale as well, making the Sportback the entry model of the A5 model range.


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