The A5 range is a series of many wonders – the svelte coupe, blisteringly fast S5 and RS5 and, of course, the gorgeous Sportback.

Cars this old shouldn’t still be this pretty. Based on the sober but sleek A4, the A5 takes those themes, lowers the package to a sportier altitude and manages to improve the proportions with a hatchback.

It isn’t cheap but for the buyer looking for practicality and prettiness, the A5 Sportback has many charms.

The A5 range starts at $68,200 for the 1.8-litre petrol front-wheel-drive CVT in both coupe and five-door. Another $1500 lands you in a turbo-diesel in both flavours and then a decent jump to the 2.0 TFSI quattro all-wheel drive models. You can keep going up the range until the $111,400 petrol 3.0-litre straight six. That’s when the S5 and RS5 prices start…

Our road test quattro Sportback started at $77,300 for the seven-speed dual-clutch equipped 2.0 TFSI petrol.

For that kind of money, the five-door has a 10-speaker stereo, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate-control, keyless entry and start, sat-nav, rear vision camera, cruise control, powered tailgate, electric front seats, automatic xenon headlights, auto wipers, leather trim on seats, shifter and steering wheel and various metallic trim pieces.

You can add various packages that include gadgets, big wheels and extra safety bits and pieces, and these range from a few hundred dollars through to several thousand.

Have we mentioned how pretty it is? The A5 Sportback is very pretty. Long and low-slung, the five-door coupe looks best with the biggest wheels your budget will allow. It’s like a Jaguar XF has been to Berlin.

You wouldn’t know it to look at it, but there’s plenty of aluminium in the A5, including the front guards.

The fish hook daytime running lights make the A5 instantly recognisable on the road

Inside is surprisingly lofty and familiar from the A4 – switchgear and dash carryover and that isn’t a bad thing, although starting to pale a little compared to Audi’s current efforts with the A1, A3 and TT.

The rear seat does suffer in the coupe conversion, losing the middle seat, which is probably for the better as the headroom on offer isn’t great. Thankfully, the legroom is good, but that’s something of a Pyrrhic victory given you’ll have a crick in your neck if you test the legroom’s limits.

The boot is enormous and a very practical squared shape, with the tailgate opening high. Drop the seats and you have a significant amount of space that make the trip to Flatpack and Meatball World slightly less comical than you might imagine.

Six airbags, ABS, brake assists, stability and traction control, brake force distribution, lap sash belts all round and reversing camera are all present, but neither ANCAP nor EuroNCAP have tested the A5.

The seven-inch display sits high in the dash and is controlled by Audi’s MMI, a rotary dial and shortcut button arrangement on the centre console. It takes a little bit of getting used to, particularly where you have to map functions to shortcut buttons, but is easy enough once you have the hang of it.

The satellite navigation is detailed and performs well, with clear instructions and an easy input method.

As ever, there’s no standard USB input, and you need a separate cable to plug your phone in via a port in the glovebox. Hope is on the horizon on this front as the new TT heralds the switch to sensible shoes USB ports.

The Bang and Olufsen fourteen-speaker system has good clear sound but whether it’s worth $1700 is a question for better ears than ours.

Our A5 Sportback was powered by Audi’s 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four, in this tune delivering 165 kW and 350 Nm. It shifts the 1615 kg Sportback to 100km/h in 6.4 seconds.

Audi claims 6.7 litres per 100km on the combined cycle. We saw 9.3 L/100km, but there’s a good reason for that – it spins very cheerfully and is a lot of fun to bang through the gears.

Despite a few S-Line logos around the car, our test car had escaped the excesses of S-Line suspension – this can make otherwise slick-riding Audis a bit hard to live with as your fillings rattle around in your mouth.

In this unsporty trim, the A5 is as smooth to drive as it is to look at. Bigger bumps will upset the body a little, but when battling the suburban road network it manages an easygoing ride with minimal suspension racket. There’s a bit of road noise from the fat tyres, but apart from that, the cabin is quiet and agreeable.

Piling on the pressure, the car responds. The quattro system is excellent at keeping things on rails but isn’t what you’d call particularly involving. The Sportback will eventually succumb to gentle understeer and the mild body roll will let you know in advance if anything is going to badly wrong.

It’s not really a sports car even though it looks like one. It’s more an eminently comfortable, fine-looking alternative to a standard A4, much like the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe lets you spend more on a 3 Series without too much compromise.

Audi A5 comes with a hefty sticker but a good equipment level and lashings of style to match the price tag.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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