5-door hatch-sedan has turbocharged power

2018, Audi, A5 Sportback

Those clever car designers at Audi borrowed the platform of Audi's compact-class A4 4-door sedan and forged a new 5-door model called the A5 Sportback.

The newest A5 slots in the compact class configuration with a 2+3 cockpit and four doors for passengers plus a tail-side hatch lid. With a low roofline and integrated rear doors, the Sportback looks sleek and swift like a curve-craving 2-door coupe, yet it provides the four cabin doors of a practical sedan and carves out additional cargo room in the hindquarters like a functional hatchback wagon.

It's as if Audi's designers tossed a coupe, sedan, and wagon into a gigantic blender and mixed all ingredients until the sleek and sporty A5 Sportback emerged.

Styling for this new Audi is simply stunning.

The theme for the exterior design is a fluidity of lines drawn in a rectangular format with an exaggerated snout and abbreviated tail linked by the arching canopy over the cabin with low-slung windows and side pillars muted.

On the prow Audi's designers planted a broad single-frame grille sandwiched between sharp-edged and narrow Xenon headlamps featuring signature white-light LED tube rings and lower corner foglamps.

A long and low strafed hood encases the A5's zippy engine, as side panels are chiseled with wavy high shoulder lines and exaggerated wheel arches.

The blunted rump looks clean with sculptural LED taillights pinned to rear corners above the low wraparound fascia and dual round tailpipes in chrome.

Pop the rear hatch lid, and you'll find a flat-floor cargo bay with 22 cubic feet of stow space with rear seatbacks raised, and an expansion to 35 cubic feet with the seatbacks lowered.

The Sportback cabin layout is familiar with two-sport buckets in front and a broad bench in the back with indentions for two but room for three. There's a high waistline to this scheme with super-clean and uncluttered styling for the dashboard and impressive textures and finishes applied.

For locomotion, the A5 Sportback stocks the A4's 2.0-liter 4-in-line engine, with turbocharger and direct intercooler plus Audi's remarkable FSI (fuel straight injection) technology applied. It feels vigorous and quick, drawing on the full force of the plant's production of 252 hp peaking between 5000 and 6000 rpm plus 273 lb-ft of torque spread across a broadband from 1600 to 4500 rpm.

Transmission is a fuel-saving 7-speed S Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission with manual-control shift paddles mounted on the 3-spoke steering wheel.

A 5-link front/rear suspension design seems light and lively, while Audi's Quattro system for traction at every wheel sets up the tire grip of a sticky-toed gecko. The smart Quattro system, using a torsion-sensing center differential, automatically shifts the engine torque to whichever wheels, front or rear, attain the best bite of traction on slick pavement. Standard is a 40/60 front/rear torque split, but the system can send up to 70 percent of the torque to front wheels as needed to maintain grip.

Brakes, with a big disc at every wheel, rely on electronic and computerized links to tame the all-season tires. Anti-lock brake (ABS) controls are standard, along with electronic brake distribution (EBD) plus Audi's electronic stabilization program (ESP) that checks lateral slippage and skidding.

Audi builds the A5 Sportback with three trim packages: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige.

Standard gear for all issues ranges from a leather-wrapped steering wheel and premium leather seat upholstery to 12-way power controls for front seats, 3-zone automatic climate system, rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and a 10-speaker audio kit with USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Further, Audi offers advanced driver assistance systems, including standard Audi pre sense basic and city and optional Audi adaptive cruise control with stop & go and traffic jam assist.

The MSRP chart for Audi's 2018 A5 Sportback extends from $42,600 to $50,200.

By Bob Plunkett

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Images of the 2018, Audi A5 Sportback

2018 Audi A5 Sportback
2018 Audi A5 Sportback
2018 Audi A5 Sportback cockpit
2018 Audi A5 Sportback cockpit
2018 Audi A5 Sportback - Body shop – Putting together the body in white
2018 Audi A5 Sportback - Body shop – Putting together the body in white
2018 Audi A5 Sportback - Assembly – Door preassembly
2018 Audi A5 Sportback - Assembly – Door preassembly