When it comes to prestigiously-badged, German compact executive cars, traditional thinking suggests that estates are fine but five-door hatchbacks aren't. Audi however, hasn't made it to the top of the best executive saloon cars pile by traditional thinking and their second generation A5 Sportback continues to turn such thinking on its head, with coupe styling married to a couple of rear passenger doors and hatchback practicality.
This second generation A5 Sportback executive luxury saloon car sits on an all-new platform with a wide track and a comparatively long wheelbase, all ingredients that should provide for composed, agile handling. There's a more sophisticated suspension set-up too, with a more sophisticated five-link system replacing the trapezoidal link rear suspension used previously. As you'd expect with a top 10 executive car, there's an adaptive damping option you can control through the standard 'Audi drive select' vehicle dynamics system that all A5 Sportback models get. At its simplest, this set-up allows you to control all the usual things - throttle response, steering feel and, on S tronic auto models, gearshift timings too.
You'll want to know about engines. Petrol's first - there are a couple of 2.0 TFSI petrol options, with a choice of either 190 or 252PS, the latter variant able to reach 62mph in just 6s. Most will want a diesel though. There's a 190PS 2.0 TDI option that's also available in frugal 'ultra' form a good touch in an economic executive car. And a six cylinder 3.0 TDI variant offering 286PS and a mighty 620Nm of torque, so it should feel genuinely quick. As should the range flagship, the 354PS V6 petrol turbo S5 sports model. This develops 500Nm of torque and sprints to 62mph in just 4.7s on the way to an artificially governed top speed of 155mph. As usual, quattro 4WD is either optional or standard-fit on more powerful models.
Audi designers have brought together dramatic shapes and taut surfaces to update this A5 Sportback executive car, creating a familiar yet very contemporary silhouette for the five-door coupe design that retains the original's handsome good looks. The stretched wheelbase, short overhangs and long, wraparound bonnet featuring a power dome emphasise the sporty silhouette. And the three-dimensional single frame grille is significantly flatter and wider than on the previous model. In profile, the wave-pattern shoulder line is a key contributor to the A5 Sportback's luxury car stance.
And inside? Well it's significantly more spacious. This version of Audi's executive luxury car has gained 17mm in length, the shoulder room for driver and front passenger is up 11mm and the rear knee room is up by 24mm. The horizontal architecture of the instrument panel creates a sense of spaciousness too and the optional ambient lighting system with 30 colours to choose from should evoke a fitting interior mood. There's 480-litres of luggage capacity, which is close to the best in this class. Plus, Audi also offers the option of sensor control for opening and closing the standard-fit electric luggage compartment lid. The rear seat back splits 40:20:40 as standard. The load-area width measures exactly one metre and the rectangular-shaped layout of this compartment makes it practical to use. With the rear seats folded down, this executive car can accommodate 1,300-litres.
Audi has already proved with the A5 Sportback luxury car that there's room in the market for a compact executive car model with a fifth door and an added dose of charisma. Whether the people buying it are actually conquest customers is another issue entirely of course, but when you're offering cars to suit every conceivable market niche, you can never be quite sure of that.
What's certain is that this second generation model represents a decent step forward from its predecessor, lighter, more sophisticated and eminently more desirable. Which makes it even harder to ignore if you're looking for this kind of contender in the executive car market. One thing's certain: in this executive saloon car, you'll find another very desirable Audi.Click here to find out more about our Audi A5 Sportback range