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Audi A5 Sportback
The Top Gear car review:Audi A5 Sportback
What is it like on the road?
Most Sportbacks sold in the UK will come with the 187bhp 2.0-litre TDI. We know it well enough from the A4, Volkswagen Passat, Seat Ateca, Skoda Superb et al., and we can’t see it being any less of a good fit in the Sportback than it is in any of those other cars. Also available is a 3.0-litre V6 TDI with 281bhp, or a 2.0 TFSI with 249bhp.
The 2.0-litre TDI is the only one of the bunch available with a manual gearbox. The petrol (and 2.0-litre TDI, optionally) gets a seven-speed twin-clutch auto, while the big diesel and 3.0-litre V6 S5 get an eight-speed torque-converter auto, which can better cope with the prodigious levels of torque they offer up.
The 3.0-litre TDI is, predictably, a lovely, lovely thing, with heaps of torque and pace enough to make the S5 Sportback mostly pointless, at least in the UK (0-62mph in the low-mid sixes, 155mph). The 2.0-litre TFSI is quick too (0-62mph in 6.0secs, 155mph), but it doesn’t half make itself heard when you lay into it a bit. The trade-off is that it’s much lighter over the nose, making it feel lighter and by some margin more agile than the diesel, and it has the twin-clutch ‘box, which is quite simply better. The 3.0-litre’s numbers are around the 59mpg and 119g/km mark. For the petrol you’re looking at 47.9mpg and 136g/km.
The Sportback keeps the S5 coupe’s 345bhp, 369lb ft turbocharged V6, equipped as standard with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive. Claimed performance is 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and 155mph all out – identical numbers to the sleeker two-door S5. And you’re tugging along a 480-litre boot, don’t forget. It’s agile enough (the fact it’s 85kg lighter than the old S5 Sportback helps) and there’s a surfeit of grip that eventually turns into understeer if you’re massively ambitious on corner entry. The optional Sports Differential is supposed to bring the rear end into play, overspeeding the outside tyre to help rotate the car. It’s great in the S4, but here its effects are so subtle you won’t notice at the kind of speeds you’ll (legally) get up to on a British B-road. Odd, that.
The S5’s engine is a lovely thing. There’s power throughout the rev range and the noise is pleasingly natural. And so it should be, because there’s no augmentation going on besides a bit of trickery within the dash that adds a bit of resonance. Kept in manual mode, throttle response is keen, with a whiff of turbo lag that, though noticeable, isn’t pronounced enough to damage the S5’s point-and-squirt pace, which is prodigious. Downshifts are better than up, where the inherent characteristics of a single-clutch auto are more pronounced. Changes are smooth and swift but lack the whip-crack immediacy of a DCT. So fine, but not massively involving or especially exciting.