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Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI S-Line road test

  • Manual six-speed has strong performance
  • Quality interior, decent equipment levels
  • Affordable company car tax, 60mpg

A standard saloon is starting to become rather passe as savvy, style-conscious company car drivers look, not only for a model that’s fit for purpose, but for something that isn’t just a generic four-door that has little chance of turning heads.

That’s why the A5 Sportback is a clever addition to Audi model line-up. The sloping coupe-esque shape married to a fair degree of practicality points to style, as well as substance.

The 174bhp 2.0-litre TDI S-Line manual we tested is, therefore, manna from heaven. With an average of fuel economy of 60.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 120g/km it’ll please parsimonious bean-counters that want to keep running costs in check as well as those who want something that'll look good in the car park.

It’ll please the family as well. It’s got plenty of luggage space with a 480-litre boot that extends to 980 litres when you put the rear seats down. The big advantage is the hatch-opening that allows it to carry larger loads. For more awkward items such as bicycles, the rear seats easily split and fold. The load area itself is wide and deep with only a small bootlip, while there's a clever load cover built into the tailgate itself.

Thanks to a longer wheelbase than the A4 saloon, along with extra width, the Sportback has plenty of head- and legroom room in the back. That said, with the front seats slid all the way back, legroom is dramatically cut - but it's still better than most cars this size, aside from the Skoda Superb.

As a driving machine you won’t feel sold short either. The diesel offers plenty of low-down punch, which is great for overtaking on motorways. It’ll get from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds with a top speed of 142mph. It’s also very refined too – the diesel engine only gets vocal when you are pulling away with plenty of revs, but you do get a little turbo whine. It’s no deal-breaker though.

Handling-wise the A5 Sportback is very organised when cornering at speed. Yes, there’s a little bit of body lean, but it grips well and for a front-wheel-drive car it’s surprisingly keen on turn-in. It lacks steering feel but the brakes are solid and the six-speed manual gearchange is slick.

The A5 Sportback also includes start/stop along with brake energy recuperation to keep fuel consumption to an absolute minimum.

Like every other Audi, the A5 is neat, tidy, classy and it reeks of logic. Within seconds you’ll know what goes where, such is the dashboard layout. It’s also comfortable for long journeys: the only complaint we have is that at motorway speeds you do get a little bit of wind whistle coming in through the top of the front side window. It’s a minor complaint in what is a very well-rounded car.

The test car we drove included nappa leather upholstery, an eight-speaker audio system with CD and MP3 compatibility with memory-card reader and aux-in socket as standard. Also on the standard kit list were rain-sensitive wipers, a rear acoustic parking system, climate control and multi-function steering wheel. Upgrades included a DAB digital radio (£305), cruise control (£225), sat nav and rear parking camera (£1,995), 19-inch alloy wheels (£400 – over the standard 18-inchers) and a three-seat rear bench (£250).

Company car tax isn’t too onerous. This particular model fits into the 18% Benefit-in-Kind tax rate and as such you pay £834 (£69.50 a month) if you are on a 20% tax rate and £1,668 (£139 a month) if you are on a 40% rate.

 

Also consider:
Lexus IS
It’s got appeal, and it’s bulletproof. Not particularly rewarding to drive though

Alfa Romeo Brera
Yep, it’s a left-field choice but if you want a stylish car with a rear hatch then this is for. Terrible visibility though, and restricted space in the back

Volvo S60
Classy, well-built and reasonable to drive, Volvo’s four-door has an understated cool.