We’ve always been attracted to fastback car designs–sexier than a sedan, not as clunky as a station wagon, the best of both automotive universes. The Audi A7 is one of the top entrants, and now the German automaker has introduced a baby brother of sorts with the Audi A5 Sportback, a stunning package of style, design, practicality, performance and reasonable pricing that’s going to give the competition plenty of sleepless nights.
An athletic new edition to the marque’s popular A5 range, it combines beautiful styling and precise, balanced handling with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 252 horsepower. With Audi’s renowned Quattro all-wheel drive system as standard equipment, 35 cubic feet of cargo space with the back seats folded down, and a starting sticker of just $42,600, they just may not be able to make them fast enough to meet demand.
Graceful and nimble, longer and more elegant than the A5 coupe and able to comfortably seat five thanks to an extended sloping roofline and stretched wheelbase, the A5 Sportback is the work of Frank Lamberty, Audi’s brilliant head of exterior design, who also created the brand’s R8 supercar, one of the coolest cars on the road today.
Audi seems intent on delivering the best value for money in its class, and the A5 Sportback is a solid shot across the bows of rivals BMW and Mercedes. Audi’s iconic understated elegance has long rendered it too sober for some while appealing to plenty of others who don’t want or feel the need for rivals’ flashier badges. The brand’s prestige has been steadily rising however thanks to the likes of the A7 and R8, movie placements and motorsport victories, and while it’s still a quieter level of luxury those who seek some measure of status need not worry their message won’t be heard.
The Audi A5 comes in three trim levels: Premium at the base price of $42,600, Premium Plus starting at $45,600, and Prestige starting at $50,200. A sportier version, the S5 Sportback, starts at $54,400, and delivers 354 horsepower with an eye-opening, class-leading 0-60 mph time of only 4.5 seconds, another very attractive proposition.
The tech is truly ahead of the pack with the amazing new 12.3” Audi virtual cockpit system available with the Prestige package, which also gets you a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system among other bells and whistles. The virtual cockpit is futuristic and fully customizable, allowing you to select various configurations of navigation and audio displays and controls, including Google Earth. Spread out over the entire main screen as well as the driver’s instrument cluster it’s above and beyond anything you’ve ever experienced before. The driver assistance systems are also second to none.
We tested out the Audi A5 Sportback in and around Seattle, along some of the same scenic roads featured in the original Twin Peaks, and found it a pure pleasure to drive. The sportback truly shows its versatility in accommodating both urban and rural settings, where you rely on some of its features for daily driving but then need practical transport for getting out of town on weekends. The Pacific Northwest will no doubt be a key market for this alluring new car but we see it being equally popular with New Yorkers who head upstate whenever they can.
Our home base for the test drive was the new Thompson Seattle, the city’s coolest hotel and home to a top-notch rooftop bar, the perfect perch for unwinding at the day’s end. We were sorely tempted to load up the Audi A5 Sportback’s capacious cargo space with the incredible delicacies on offer at the nearby Pike’s Place Market and simply head for the East Coast. Which we highly recommend doing once you’ve placed your order for this much-needed addition to the automotive world.