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Future models - Audi - A5 - Sportback

First drive: Audi hatch to undercut A5 price

Five door: The Audi A5 Sportback will be available with a choice of 2.0-litre turbo petrol or 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engines.

New five-door Audi A5 Sportback to slot between A4 sedan and A5 coupe from 2010

Audi logo21 Sep 2009

By JAMES STANFORD

AUDI will fill the narrow gap between the A4 sedan and closely related A5 two-door coupe with another mid-sizer - the new five-door A5 Sportback hatch - in Australia early next year.

Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but expect the A5 Sportback to be priced a few thousand dollars below the A5.

Two models – 2.0-litre turbo petrol and 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel – will slot between $80,000 and $90,000.

Other variants, including 2.0-litre and 2.7-litre diesels, will be evaluated and could join the range at a later date.

While the A5 is a two-door coupe, the A5 Sportback has two extra doors and a higher roofline to offer coupe style with wagon practicality.

While the coupe has a fixed rear screen and regular boot-lid, the Sportback has a hatchback lid allowing for greater access to the cargo area.

The A5 Sportback is the same width as the coupe, but is 86mm longer, 19mm taller and has a 59mm longer wheelbase.

It also has a boot volume of 480 litres, compared with the coupe’s 455 litres.

The A5 Sportback range will kick off with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine. This direct-injection unit produces 155kW of power from 4300 to 6000rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1500rpm to 4200rpm.

7 center imageIt is able to dash from 0-100km/h in just 6.6 seconds. Fuel consumption comes in at 7.4 litres per 100km.

The next step up in the range is a 3.0-litre common rail V6 turbo diesel. This impressive engine produces 176kW from 4000rpm to 4400rpm and 500Nm of torque from 1500rpm to 3000rpm.

That is enough to propel the A5 Sportback from 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds.

Despite its high output, the diesel model returns an official fuel consumption figure of just 6.6L/100km.

Both the 2.0-litre petrol and 3.0-litre diesel models feed their power to all four wheels using the Audi quattro system.

They also come standard with the S-Tronic seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (also known as DSG). Manual versions are available in Europe, but they are unlikely to come to Australia.

The 2.0-litre and 2.7-litre diesel A5s being considered for Australia are front-wheel drive. The 2.0-litre diesel is available idle/stop technology in Europe, saving fuel by shutting off the engine when the car comes to a halt.

All A5 Sportbacks feature a new regenerative braking system to reclaims energy for the battery.

The A5 Sportback features four individual seats, while the rear seats fold down to open up the boot, extending space from 480 litres to 980 litres.

Audi is yet to confirm the final specifications for the A5 Sportback, but they are expect to resemble the content of the corresponding coupe models.

The A5 Sportback, along with its coupe and convertible siblings, are all built off the existing A4 platform.

This base represented a large step forward for the German prestige brand as the steering rack was moved away from the bulkhead to sharpen the steering while ridding the car of the steering rack rattle that had plagued previous cars.

Like A4s and A5s, the A5 Sportback runs double wishbone front suspension and a rear multi-link set up.

The body uses a large amount of high tensile steel, the front guards are made from aluminium and the suspension contains several aluminium components.

This means the weight is kept under control, coming in at 1615kg for the petrol and 1720kg for the diesel.

Both Australian Sportback A5s will come standard with 17-inch alloy wheels running 225/50 profile tyres.

Drive impressions:

AUDI cannot be accused of not giving its customers a choice.

In the mid-sized segment alone, buyers can choose from a practical A4 sedan or wagon, a stylish A5 coupe or – now – the stylish A5 Sportback.

The A5 Sportback is easy to dismiss as a niche within a niche, a car that is so close to the Audi A4 it hardly seems worth the effort, but it is more convincing when you see and drive it.

Not as overtly stylish as the coupe, which has wonderful flowing shoulder lines and the raking coupe roofline, but it is, nevertheless, a good-looking car.

The rear three-quarter view is the best. From here you can see its muscular shoulders and coupe-style rear – a clear difference to the more sedate A4 sedan.

The key question for potential owners will be: how practical is it? In the A5 coupe, a regular adult’s head touches the roof. Not so in the A5 Sportback, which boasts more headroom than you will ever need. The leather seats are supportive too, while legroom abounds.

Testing the A5 Sportback in Germany over a lot of kilometers, comfort was never in question.

Road noise was low and the ride generous, except for one test car with optional larger S-Line wheels and lower profile tyres that made the ride a bit firm over bumpy surfaces.

The boot is not overly deep but long, swallowing a large suitcase and three smaller bags. With fold-down seats, a serious load could be carried.

The A5 Sportback’s practical intent is obvious in its handling, which is not as sharp as the A5 coupe’s in the bends.

It will require a back-to-back test to tell conclusively, but the first impression is that the A5 Sportback is a little bit more cumbersome due to its 86mm extra length and 59mm longer wheelbase.

That said, it is still a sporty car that is a lot of run to drive.

The 2.0-litre turbo will be adequate for most people – by no means gutless, but does have to work fairly hard given the weight of the vehicle. The smooth petrol engine is very is a pleasure to rev out, especially given the dual-clutch DSG is such a good gearbox.

For better performance, the 3.0-litre V6 diesel is the go. This is a beauty, with vast reserves of torque. It revs out happily, but most drivers will not need to go past the initial band. It is well mated to the DSG gearbox as well.

The interior is inviting with the high level of quality and clean stylish design that you would expect.

The A5 Sportback is a stylish five-door hatchback with comfortable seating for four and a reasonable amount of boot space – a convincing combination.

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Audi models

All future models

A5 pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.