Audi A5 Sportback Review 2023

Written by Andrew Brady

7/10
heycar ratingSleek and practical family car
  • 2015
  • Premium
  • Petrol, Diesel

Quick overview

Pros

  • Exceptional interior quality
  • Fast and frugal engines
  • Coupe styling with hatchback practicality

Cons

  • Pricier than similar A4
  • Cramped middle rear seat 
  • Sloping roof eats into headroom

Overall verdict on the Audi A5 Sportback

"Recent updates to the Audi A5 Sportback have improved what was already a strong package. Anyone looking for a family car with a bit more style and presence than a regular hatchback will find a lot to like here. The smart interior, low running costs and good space on board for passengers and luggage make it a sensible choice despite the catwalk looks, and the sharper driving experience is welcome too."

Audi A5 Sportback Review 2023: front static

That slinky exterior comes at a cost other than the sticker price, and that's the sloping rear window eating into headroom for rear passengers. How much of an issue this is depends on how tall and how often there are adults in the back - in particular the centre rear seat is only fit for occasional use. However, the Audi A5 Sportback has a bigger boot than the A4 saloon on which it's based, so it might be better suited to your needs. 


The A5 Sportback gets a decent pick from the wide range of Audi engines, now with mild-hybrid technology too, going from the 163PS 35 TDI all the way up to 347PS in the diesel-powered S5.


Most buyers will be more than happy with the 40 TDI engine with 190PS. It's a punchy performer, smoother than most four-cylinder diesels, and surprisingly economical, even with standard quattro four-wheel drive.


If you drive shorter distances or don't like the idea of a diesel, the front-wheel drive 40 TFSI is the most affordable version of the new Audi A5 Sportback, with the lowest BIK tax rate (for company car drivers), and an identical 190PS output. You'll need to work it a bit harder than the diesel when fully loaded though, and it'll return around 40mpg.

 

Both engines are fitted with the same slick seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox, which really takes the stress out of driving in town or on congested motorways, changing gear quickly and smoothly. The controls are light, and as long as you avoid the stiffer sports suspension it's a comfortable and very refined cruiser.


You'll feel very pampered when doing long journeys in this car thanks to the beautifully finished interior - which is best in class - and impressive standard equipment list. The leather sport seats are comfortable and supportive, with heating and electric lumbar support to keep you cosy and snug on frosty morning drives.


The cabin has a stylish minimal layout, with quality materials and smartly integrated technology including a new 10.1-inch touchscreen display that works brilliantly in conjunction with a set of 12.3-inch digital dials that give the driver a customisable view of all the major media and navigation functions right behind the wheel.


It's more expensive than the Audi A4 saloon, but priced right in line with the Audi A5 Coupe giving you a greater degree of practicality for the same money as its glamorous sibling. Rivals such as the Volkswagen Arteon and Kia Stinger do look like better value, but the Audi feels more expensive inside than either, with more polished road manners.


Most family buyers are now more likely to consider the Audi Q5 instead, and if you have younger kids the high-riding SUV is probably the better bet. Still, its head-turning looks, low running costs and decent boot make the Audi A5 Sportback a compelling alternative that lets executive buyers have their cake and eat it too.


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Having four doors and a wide-opening rear hatch certainly makes the Audi A5 Sportback a whole lot more practical than the A5 Coupe. It's aimed at people who want a touch of glamour in their executive car, but space too.


The sleek design and low roof reduce headroom in the back compared with the Audi A4 Saloon, but the boot is easier to access, so it's great for families with younger kids who want to travel in style, comfort and class.


A broad selection of engines means there is an Audi A5 Sportback for everyone, from the mile-munching exec to performance enthusiasts keen to exploit the four-wheel drive grip and potent acceleration of the S5 and RS5.


The beautifully finished interior, generous standard equipment and impressive on-board technology mean it really delivers on its premium image, and surprisingly low running costs ensure it'll be a pleasure to own.

If high fuel efficiency and low carbon-dioxide emissions are your top priorities, then the 35 TDI Sport is your first choice. However, we think most buyers are better off with the punchier 40 TDI engine and quattro four-wheel drive.


It's still capable of returning mid-forties economy and has a much longer cruising range thanks to its larger 58-litre fuel tank. The extra power and grunt give it an effortless feel on the motorway, and while it's not essential, the added grip and all-weather stability of the four-wheel drive system is certainly nice to have.


This is an expensive car, so for us the entry-level Sport trim represents the best value. It has almost all the equipment you could want, and essentials like sat-nav, cruise and climate control and parking sensors.


For high-performance buyers, the new diesel-powered Audi S5 Sportback is a tempting option, with its tremendous pulling power and aggressive styling, thanks to a silky smooth 3.0-litre V6 engine that can return almost 40mpg. 


The Audi A5 Sportback's natural rival is the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. They are closely matched on price and performance, with the Audi giving a more relaxing driving experience, and the BMW feeling a bit sportier.


For a little less cash, the Volkswagen Arteon features a striking design and the same excellent engines as the Audi but it's got better rear passenger space, a massive boot, and it'll cost you quite a lot less to insure.


Meanwhile, the left-field Kia Stinger GT S has even more standard kit than the Audi, and a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 with 370PS under its bonnet, but costs less than the 40 TFSI S line A5. However it'll cost a packet to run.


With a similarly rakish profile, impressive performance, and high-tech cabin the Tesla Model 3 will hold a big appeal for buyers wanting to cut their environmental impact and fuel bills, as long as an electric car fits your lifestyle.

Comfort and design: Audi A5 Sportback interior

"Audi interiors are some of the best in the business, with elegant designs backed-up by classy materials and an attention to detail that ensures that no matter how much technology is on-board it's always easy to use."

Audi A5 Sportback Review 2023: interior

Getting comfortable in the Audi A5 Sportbackshould be a breeze. There's a good range of adjustment for the driver's seat and steering wheel, both of which can be fine-tuned for height and reach. The standard seats are nice and supportive, with four-way lumbar support to alleviate back pain on long journeys, and toasty heaters as well.


The pedals are nicely spaced out and you get footrest for your left leg, but they don't line up directly beneath the steering wheel, and this off-set to the right might cause some drivers discomfort on extended journeys.


Everything inside the cabin is clearly laid out and placed within easy view and reach of the driver. Most of the controls are grouped by their function too, so if you want to tweak the individual settings, it never takes too long to find the exact button you're looking for since you already know roughly the right area to start looking.


We love the fact that the digital dials and steering wheel controls mean you rarely need to take your eyes from the road or hands from the steering wheel, even when dialling a number or checking the current route.


Rearward visibility in the Audi A5 Sportback is slightly worse than in the A4 saloon due to the small (and shallow) rear screen, so you'll be relying on the standard front and rear parking sensors when manoeuvring into narrow parking spaces.


This is one area that Audi excels and the A5 Sportback has an exceptionally high-quality cabin that goes a long way to justifying its high price. It's minimal and pared back, but there are plenty of fine details to enjoy.


Everywhere you look you'll be surrounded with sumptuous materials, softly damped switches, and precise shut lines. It oozes quality and feels more luxurious to sit in than any of its premium rivals at this price.


The cluster of climate controls is especially intricate, with heater dials that turn with a satisfyingly exact click, and a digital readout inside them to show you the exact temperature. The leather steering wheel and gear shifter feel really substantial, and everything shuts and closes with such decisive solidity it feels built to last.


Even entry-level cars feel super upmarket, with soft LED lighting illuminating the whole cabin theatrically at night, but upgrading does bring a few further refinements. S line trim gets brushed aluminium dash inserts, and leather and Alcantara seats, while Vorsprung cars have oak dash panels and multi-coloured LED lights.


Audi's infotainment system is one of the best around, both in terms of its hardware and software. In the Audi A5 Sportback it manages to marry together a lot of different gadgets into a single, cohesive system that's very intuitive.


In older versions of this car, you got a fixed 7.0-inch display mounted above the dash (controlled with a dial next to the gear selector) and the option to upgrade to an 8.3-inch screen with a faster processor and slicker graphics. All models came with decent connectivity, DAB radio, and Apple and Android smartphone mirroring.


Another optional extra was to fit a second 12.3-inch screen in place of the conventional dials. In Audi-speak this is called the 'Virtual Cockpit' but despite the gimmicky name, it's a really impressive piece of kit. It looks ultra-modern, but is functional too, allowing the driver to see a lot of information without getting distracted.


That might all sound a bit much - especially if you're a technophobe - but the key to its success is how much easier it is to operate than, for example, the sluggish touchscreen with dated graphics in the Kia Stinger GT. 


For the latest model Audi has gone even more digital. There's a new 10.1-inch touchscreen display with redesigned menus and icons to make it look and function like a giant iPad Pro. Those digital instruments are now fitted as standard on every trim, and the standard feature list leaves you wanting for absolutely nothing.


All new Audi A5 Sportbacks have a slick sat-nav with 3D mapping, a wireless charging pad for the latest phones, and online services like live traffic info and local Google Earth satellite imagery via an integrated sim-card.

There are four USB ports, so everyone can consume as much social media as their eyeballs can handle.


The 'touch' part of interacting with the new screen is very responsive, but we're not sure why Audi removed the old rotary controller and shortcut keys. Being forced to rely on prodding the screen feels like a step back.


The Audi A5 Sportback's dimensions remain at 4.7m long and 1.8m wide, so despite the swoopy exterior design it is barely any different in size to the Audi A4 saloon. However, the whole point of cars like the A5 Sportback is that they are more useable everyday transport than a coupe. With four doors, getting access to the back seats is certainly less of a hassle than it would be in the two-door.


Jump in the rear seats and legroom is really generous, but the sloping roofline means taller people will feel their heads resting on the roof liner, and the smaller side windows also leave you feeling a little hemmed in. It'll be fine for most adults, but if you have lanky teenagers it might be worth checking they fit before you buy.


Each of the outer seats has Isofix anchor points for fitting child seats, and although the plastic covers for them are stiff to remove (and easy to lose) once they're off fitting an iSize or Group 1/2/3 seat is no bother.


This is not the best car for carrying three in the back though - there is a pronounced hump in the middle of the floor that eats into the footwell - and the seat itself is harder and narrower than the others. As an armrest it's great, with an integrated storage tray and individual cupholders, but no one will want to sit there for long.


Keeping the cabin tidy is made easier by the large glovebox, deep door pockets, a big cubby under the front armrest, even a dedicated slot for holding the key fob as you drive along and a wireless phone charging tray.


So your passengers pay a small penalty for the rakish design, but it's in the boot that the hatchback tailgate really comes into its own. It opens electrically, giving you much better access for loading bulky items than you get in the A4 saloon. Overall capacity is the same - at 480 litres - but it's much deeper behind the rear seats.


The Audi A5 Sportback has a bit of a loading lip, but the rear bench splits 40:20:40 so you can carry longer items between two rear passengers, or fold them down flush with the boot floor. Do so and you can carry up to 1,300 litres - room for a bike with its wheels on or bulky flat-pack furniture, as long as it's the right shape.


It offers very similar load-lugging ability to its main rivals the BMW 4 Series and Kia Stinger, but if you need a roomier car in the same style the Volkswagen Arteon is the best in this class, with a huge boot and spacious cabin.


Handling and ride quality: What is the Audi A5 Sportback like to drive?

"The Audi A5 Sportback comes with a variety of suspension systems depending on the trim level you pick, ranging from a comfort-oriented setup on the Sport version, to a very stiff bespoke S sport suspension on the S5 TDI."

Audi A5 Sportback Review 2023: rear dynamic

Audi has given all A5s slightly firmer springs than the A4 so it feels a bit sportier to drive, but on what the brand calls its 'Comfort Dynamic' setup and 18-inch wheels, Sport models offer a composed, supple ride. 


It deals with uneven country roads in an unruffled fashion, easily shrugging off longer bumps and crests. The steering is nicely weighted and very accurate but does feel a little artificial compared with the faster rack on the 4 Series Gran Coupe. It changes direction with purpose, gripping hard in tight turns and giving you the confidence to hustle it along knowing that it's competent enough to deal with anything the road throws at it.


In normal driving you're very unlikely to notice the difference between the front- and four-wheel drive version. On a dry surface, they both provide excellent stability and poise, but when it rains the quattros never spin up their wheels, and the extra traction means you can deploy the rapid performance of the faster models at will.


Things can get a little fidgety when driving over sharp ridges and potholes at a lower speed, and you'll feel the wheels thud over these imperfections a lot more harshly in the lowered and stiffer S line and Edition 1 trims. For that reason, we'd avoid the firmer setups on these models, since they spoil ride comfort and refinement.


Range-topping Vorsprung models have a clever adaptive setup that lets you change the firmness of the suspension as you go, via Audi's 'Drive Select' controller, which also alters the steering weight and throttle.


In its most relaxed 'Comfort' setting ride quality is really impressive, in fact it's the most comfortable of all the Audi A5 Sportbacks. Previously you could add these dampers to the S line and Edition 1 cars, but not any more.


The brand-spanking new Audi A5 Sportback comes with two diesel options: the 35 TDI and 40 TDI and (for the moment at least) a single petrol model, the 40 TFSI. Each is paired with a slick S tronic automatic gearbox.


Power is sent to the front wheels in the 40 TFSI and 35 TDI, while the 40 TDI comes equipped with Audi's familiar quattro four-wheel drive system as standard, but it was previously available with two-wheel drive.


Despite their 2.0-litre capacities they're all strong performers, with decent in-gear acceleration and smooth power delivery, but the extra mid-range grunt of the 40 TDI makes for relaxed progress and easier overtakes.


The entry-level diesel is impressively economical, but thanks to the smooth twin-clutch gearbox and clever new mild-hybrid technology all of these engines will outperform their BMW equivalents at the fuel pumps.


At the top of the range, the S5 TDI is a performance powerhouse. Its 3.0-litre V6 engine produces 347PS and a titanic 700Nm of torque, making it extremely rapid. Yet thanks to an electric turbo and its mild-hybrid system (which runs the car's systems and cuts the engine when coasting) it's also remarkably efficient.


If you're after a wider choice of powertrains the pre-facelift Audi A5 Sportback has got you covered. A six-speed manual gearbox was offered on the 40 TDI and 40 TFSI, and there was a quicker petrol with 245PS and quattro.


While more expensive to run, the 3.0-litre V6 models are uniformly excellent, pushing you into the back of your seat with their brawny in-gear acceleration, but also silky smooth and quiet when you want to relax.


The Audi A5 Sportback is a very civilised way to cover long distances, especially with a petrol engine under its bonnet. The 40 TFSI is incredibly hushed, particularly at lower speeds, but can be a little gruff if worked.


That's not to say the diesels are noisy. In fact quite the opposite, Audi makes some of the smoothest four-cylinder diesels, and then the only time you'll really hear them at all in the cabin is during hard acceleration.


In this regard, the Audi A5 Sportback beats its main competitor hand down. The BMW 420d Gran Coupe is nowhere near as muted as the 40 TDI - its engine clatters at low speed and is a constant in the background.


The twin-clutch S tronic gearbox is - for the most part - as smooth as the engines, making imperceptible changes and keeping the revs low. The only issue is its tall final ratio, which has been tuned for fast German autobahns instead of English motorways, so at 70mph it's constantly trying to change down into sixth gear.


On Sport models the rolling refinement is exceptional, with virtually no wind or road noise worth mentioning. If you opt for a sportier trim with larger wheels, however, tyre roar at higher speeds becomes quite intrusive.


The Audi A5 Sportback shares many of its parts with the A4 saloon, which got the maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP when it was crash tested in 2015. However, its individual category scores aren't so impressive.


Both the Arteon and Kia Stinger perform slightly better for adult occupant protection will do less harm to any pedestrians you might accidentally hit, while also faring better in the safety assistance appraisal too.


Fundamentally though, the Audi A5 Sportback is a very safe car to travel in, with stability control, six airbags, hill hold assistant to get you up steeper junctions, seat belt monitors, front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera.


Audi doesn't stop at the bare minimum though, with cruise control (including a speed limiter) and Pre-sense City also fitted to every model. The latter is an autonomous emergency braking system, which can scan the road ahead and (below 52mph) will warn you, then hit the brakes if the car senses an impending impact.


There are plenty of optional active systems too, for those who want as much assistance with their driving as possible. Most are part of an exhaustive safety bundle called the Driver Assistance Pack. You can't add this to entry-level Sport models, and it's expensive, but includes some very clever semi-autonomous technology. 


Our favourite is the called Traffic-jam Assist, which works with the Adaptive Cruise Control and Active Lane Assist to follow a set speed and distance to the car in front, braking, accelerating and steering for you when the road is clogged with traffic. It works up to speeds of 40mph and really takes the stress out of commuting.


MPG and fuel costs: What does an Audi A5 Sportback cost to run?

"Company car drivers and those covering big motorway mileages should opt for the 35 TDI version of the Audi A5 Sportback. It's the most efficient model in the revised line-up, with an official economy figure of 54.3mpg in Sport trim. "

Audi A5 Sportback Review 2023: front dynamic

That might not sound too impressive, but this is a big, luxurious car, and it's been recorded under the  WLTP testing rules, so it should more accurately reflect what you'll be able to achieve in the real world.


Previous front-wheel drive diesels claimed to get over 60mpg, but that was using the old NEDC tests, and our Real MPG drivers' average of just over 50mpg seems a lot more realistic. The entry-level petrol should return just over 40mpg when driving gently, but will dip much lower if you spec the car with larger wheels.


Both new engines use mild-hybrid technology to help them save fuel. It's essentially a souped-up battery and starter motor that can harvest energy while you are braking, and use it to shut the engine off more regularly.


The facelifted Audi A5 Sportback is still relatively new so very few issues have come to light so far. The Audi brand received a middling score, coming in 21st out of 30 manufacturers in the HonestJohn.co.uk Satisfaction Index.


On older models excessive oil consumption is an issue that seems to have come up regularly on petrol engines, with some owners reporting new pistons rings required to fix it.

The swoopy styling and higher specification level of the Audi A5 Sportback make it pricier to insure than a normal A4 saloon. The most affordable to cover is the pre-facelift 1.4-litre TFSI in SE trim, which is rated group 24.


The far more popular 2.0-litre petrol and diesel versions start in group 30 for the least powerful 35 TDI, going right up to Group 40 for the 245PS four-wheel drive 45 TFSI. Those ratings sit several bands higher than the Volkswagen Arteon fitted with identical engines, and it'll be more expensive than the equally powerful Kia Stinger too.


Most new versions of the Audi A5 Sportback cost more than £40,000, so are subject to a higher rate of road tax. Cars that come under that limit must pay a flat rate of £150 a year, those over it will need to stump up an additional £325 for the first five years of ownership after it's registered. That's a big jump for one trim level.


You also have to pay a first year tax charge calculated on your car's CO2 emissions, usually rolled into the on-the-road price you'll pay at the dealer. This will vary between £215 and £870 depending on your engine. Company car users are best to choose either of the Sport models - the 35 TFSI Sport comes in a 33% BIK while the 35 TDI Sport attracts a 30% rate.

How much should you be paying for a used Audi A5 Sportback?

"Go for an earlier model and you can have an Audi A5 Sportback for as little as £11,000, with a still-modest mileage of 80,000 miles. A later 2018 car will be closer to £18,000, and you can also expect to pay a small premium for cars equipped with Audi's Quattro four-wheel-drive system."

Audi A5 Sportback Review 2023: exterior front three quarter photo of the Audi A5 Sportback alloy wheel

You'll need between £18,000 and £20,000 for a four-wheel drive model with less than 50,000 miles on the clock and a full service history. Take your time and hunt down examples with desirable options like sat-nav and the Virtual Cockpit digital dials fitted - although the latter is quite rare it really transforms the interior.


With the Audi A5 Sportback being a popular company car expect to find plenty of diesels but fewer petrols on the market. The sporty S5 version is desirable but as a performance car it will demand an extra premium.


Buying an Audi A5 Sportback is expensive, but Audi does throw in an impressively long list of equipment. Early cars came in SE, Sport and S line flavours, but all feel suitably upmarket, with heated artificial leather seats, cruise and climate control, a powered tailgate and all-round parking sensors fitted as standard on every car.


Audi recently refreshed the A5 Sportback, and the newer models look even sportier than before and are stuffed with even more technology as standard. 'Entry-level' Audi A5 Sportback Sport models now have bright LED headlights, sat-nav, and the brand's slick 'Virtual Cockpit' 12.3-inch digital dials, keyless go and a sharp set of 18-inch alloy wheels.


That trim has everything you could possibly need, so upgrading to the other trims is about sprucing up the styling more than anything else. Audi A5 Sportback S line cars have 19-inch alloys, a sporty body kit, and fancier LED lights.


Audi A5 Sportback Edition 1 adds lots of stealthy black exterior and interior trim pieces, electric adjustment for the front seats, softer leather, and laser headlights, while the flagship Vorsprung models include almost every optional extra.


We'd avoid the latter since it's needlessly expensive, and in fact we think the Sport trim has everything you're likely to ever need. There are fewer options to sneakily bump up the price in the latest Audi A5 Sportback, but the Comfort & Sound Pack is still likely to prove popular. For £1395 you get a booming 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo, 360º parking camera, and hands-free boot opener - great for people who want the world to hear their tunes.


Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Even the slowest version of the Audi A5 Sportback is usefully quick - 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds for the 35 TFSI isn't bad, the S5 can do it in 5.6 seconds, and if you really want fast then the RS5 can perform the sprint in only 3.9 seconds.
Older versions of the Audi A5 Sportback have had occasional issues with heavy oil use on petrol engines, so this is worth looking into if you are considering one, but more recently there have been very few issues raised in terms of reliability.
Strictly speaking it isn't - the Audi A5 Sportback is fractionally shorter, narrower and lower than the A4 saloon. But more important is that the Audi A5 Sportback has a slightly bigger boot at 465 litres; that's only five more litres than the A4 saloon, but the hatchback shape makes it easier to carry loads and you can fold the seat to increase capacity up to 1280 litres.

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