Audi S5 Sportback

The SUV alternative.

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Some cars seem purpose-built for decisive people.

Not interested in joining the SUV bandwagon? Check one attribute in favour of the Audi S5 Sportback. A car that’s not too big but not too small? Check. A liftgate instead of a trunk? Check. Stylish and capable without being ostentatious? Check again.

The Audi S5 Sportback combines a long list of desirable high-end features—think heated and massaging sport seats in leather with diamond stitching, an available Bang & Olufsen sound system, and a panoramic sunroof—into a tighter package than its larger sibling, the S7 Sportback.

Its smaller size brings with it some lower outright power figures, but the 3.0-litre turbocharged V6’s 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque available from 1,370 to 4,500 revolutions per minute—which spins an eight-speed automatic transmission and rolls all four wheels as standard—are balanced beautifully against the S5’s more diminutive dimensions. With an advertised top speed of 250 kilometres per hour and a zero to 100 kilometres per hour acceleration time of 4.8 seconds, only those who regularly engage in high-performance driving are likely to feel that the output from this car’s right pedal is not enough to meet their needs.

On the subject of pedals, the stainless steel and dead pedals here are just one example of the attention to detail that makes this car so distinguished. Other notable features include the flat-bottomed steering wheel, available 19-inch wheels, whisper-quiet cabin, sizable and usable cargo space, and impressive selection of interior colours—the red truly pops, but in grey it exudes an understated class.

While driving in comfort mode, the steering and responsiveness are notably relaxed and well-suited to urban and high-traffic conditions. Flip to sport mode, however, and the entire car awakens with the note from the quad exhaust sharpening considerably. While there is no crackling and popping, for a turbocharged engine, the sound it produces is a pleasant surprise.

The engine stop-start function, designed to reduce fuel use by shutting the engine off while the car is at a stop and restarting it with throttle input, is far smoother than average and very easy to live with—which certainly doesn’t hurt in a car that requires premium fuel, with prices sharply on the rise. The only element of the entire cabin that leaves a little something to be desired is the infotainment system interface. While it is simple enough to learn and includes the option to use a finger to spell out words and names, other systems perform the same tasks while being more attractive. That said, the S5 Sportback comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, which among its peers makes it a standout.

In today’s SUV-mad world, the Audi S5 Sportback appeals to a specific audience. And that audience will love this car unconditionally.


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May 11, 2018