Audi A5 Sportback
By Bill McCarthy
Firing up the Audi, (or Quattro in the case of TV detective Gene Hunt in Life on Mars), is with the press of a button these days,
So if not quite firing up the Quattro, when this Audi fired up I had to double check it was a diesel.
Diesels have had a bit of kicking in the last few years, but are still being produced by executive brands like Audi.
Almost entirely lacking in diesel clatter, but delivering in spades when it comes to economy and low CO2 emissions, they are still a serious option, certainly until 2030 when new sales are due to be phased out. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to drive them after 2030, however, so they are still a longer term option.
The A5 has been around a few years now, a smart, coupe-Like design, disguising loads of space and challenging anything on the road for style.
When it looks that good, revisions need to be subtle and the latest incarnation still features the low, almost predatory stance of the car, but now has a honeycomb grille that is wider and flatter, and ventilation slits which reference, says Audi, the classic Audi Sport quattro from 1984.
Headlights with LED technology come as standard, with Matrix LED headlights available from S line.
The interior is real premium quality with high-end soft-touch finish, paint black inlays with contrasting brushed aluminium trim and leather seats which feature the S-line ’S’ embossed into the head restraint.
It features the 12.3-inch cockpit-style dash, which is customisable via the multi-function steering wheel to three different views while the centrepiece is the touchscreen, which controls major functions like music, navigation and connectivity via smartphone.
In fact, the steering wheel controls have largely replaced the MMI dial on the central console, operating a number of functions.
Also Audi connect infotainment services deliver numerous web-based features such as up-to-the-minute news, Google Earth mapping and Street View and flight, weather, traffic and fuel pricing information.
It is well equipped, with the S Line version offering 19in alloy wheels, Matrix LED headlights, privacy glass, and stiffer, lowered suspension.
On the road, the car is a very able performer. The 163PS on tap from the two-litre unit propels the car to 60mph in a very respectable eight seconds, as it slips seamlessly through the seven-speed auto transmission.
The suspension in all A5 models has been tuned with an underlying emphasis on comfort but also an appropriately sporting bias, which delivers a thoroughly enjoyable driving experience, especially on tight, twisting roads. It is pretty frugal as well, with a real-world economy of around 50mpg.
It may look like a coupe, but there is still a generous amount of storage space, with 465 litres available which expands to a pretty cavernous, for the type of car, 1,300 litres with the rear seats folded.
In typical Audi style, it also boasts the latest hi-tech safety kit, from full suite of airbags to stability control, parking sensors, daytime running lights, assisted braking and pre-collision mitigation.
Quiet, powerful and frugal, the diesel is still a player.
Audi A5 Sportback 35 TDI S tronic (163PS)
Mechanical: 163PS, 1968cc, 4-cylinder diesel engine driving front wheel via 7-speed S tronic auto transmission
Max Speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 51.4
Insurance Group: TBC
C02 emissions: 144g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles