2019 Audi A5/S5 Sportback: Impressive Style and Power

The 2019 Audi A5 range is effectively a name for the sexier versions of the A4 compact sedan and wagon. But the A5 has proved so popular with buyers around the world that it’s now a model line in its own right. The A5 range is made up of coupe, convertible and Sportback (five-door hatch) body styles, but it’s the Sportback we’ll be concentrating on here.

That’s just the start of the story though, and that’s because as well as the regular A5 Sportback models, Audi also produces a performance-focused version called the S5 Sportback. It’s not often Americans gravitate towards a hatchback body style over a model’s sedan alternative, but the Audi A5/S5 Sportback is an exception. If you’re not yet an Audi convert, but you’re in the market for a new car, take a look at what the A5 Sportback has to offer.

Exterior Styling

The convertible and coupe versions of the A5 are very attractive cars, but the Sportback is the real show-stopper. It’s not only the best-looking vehicle in Audi’s current model lineup; it’s also one of the most attractive cars in a class full of very attractive cars. It’s probably fair to say the styling has evolved massively over the years since it was launched, but then again, the styling of the Porsche 911 hasn’t changed for decades and nobody sees that as too much of a problem, do they?

Sportback versions of the A5 and S5 have a similar sloping roofline to the coupe, but they also have the practicality of the A4’s rear doors and slightly extended wheelbase. The Sportback is also a little longer than other A5 body styles. The way that elongates the car’s lines plays a big part in making the car stunning.

Engines and Performance

Before we get to specifics, it would probably be a good idea to explain the A5 family in a little more detail. As mentioned above, Audi also offers the A5 in a performance S5 variant, but there is yet another version, which is the RS5. We’re not covering the RS5 here, but the S5. The S5 is the model that sits between the A5 Sportback and the RS5 in the Audi scale of performance. If you think of the RS5 as Audi’s answer to the BMW M4, the S5 Sportback is along the same lines as the BMW 340i Gran Turismo with the M-Sport package.

The standard engine under the hood of the 2019 Audi A5 Sportback is a 2.0-liter turbo-four that develops a very healthy 252 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, which used to come mated to a six-speed manual, but now comes exclusively mated to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The S5 Sportback delivers quite a notable step up in power to the standard A5 Sportback. Under the hood of the S5 is a 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbo producing 354 hp and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. It also comes mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, instead of the seven-speed dual-clutch the A5 gets.

And if you want even more good news, all versions of the 2019 Audi A5/S5 Sportback come standard with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.

Performance

Even though there’s no manual transmission for those who take their driving experience very seriously, every model does have steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles to allow a degree of manual control. Every A5 and S5 drives and handles exceptionally well, and a stiffer, sportier suspension is available across the range as an option. All models also feature Comfort, Normal and Dynamic drive settings that adjust the weight of the steering, gear selection and throttle mapping.

Obviously, the extra power of the S5 Sportback is tempting for many buyers, but don’t overlook just how well the standard A5 Sportback performs for quite a lot less money. The 2.0-liter turbo-four gets the A5 Sportback from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds, and onwards to a top speed of 130 mph. That’s pretty good, to say the least. But if you do want more, the S5 Sportback gets to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.

Interior

The A5 and S5 Sportback are not exactly cavernous in the rear seats, but there is noticeably more room back there than there is in the coupe and convertible versions of the Audi A5. The front seats are very comfortable and spacious, and they’re also heated and power adjustable in ten different ways. Add standard leather upholstery into the equation, and it quickly becomes obvious this is a luxury car in every sense of the word.

Overall, the styling of the interior isn’t hugely exciting, but like most German cars in its class, the interior is practical, well laid out, and very well put together using very high-quality materials everywhere you look and feel.

If you’re going to need to transport some cargo from time to time, such as a set of golf clubs, for example, the Sportback offers 21.8 cu.-ft. of cargo space, compared to just 11.6 cu.-ft. in the coupe and a miserly 9.3 cu.-ft. in the convertible.

Features and Equipment

Both the A5 and S5 Sportback are available in three different trim levels of Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. Not so very long ago, German luxury cars were renowned for base models being pretty bereft of standard features and equipment. That’s changed in recent years, especially here with the Audi, which is much better equipped at the entry-level than just about any of its rivals.

Along with leather upholstery, Premium models come standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, lots of active safety features, a 7.0-inch display for an infotainment system that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. Sportback models also come standard with a very useful power liftgate.

The Good

  • Beautiful styling
  • Impressive turbo-four engine
  • Plenty of available active safety tech
  • Leather upholstery standard

The Not-So-Good

  • High-spec models can get pricey
  • Rear seats a little cramped
  • Limited cargo space
  • Virtual Cockpit costs extra

The Last Word

The 2019 Audi A5 range is seriously good in any of its forms, but the A5 Sportback and S5 Sportback are a cut above their siblings. If you’re using that exercise of drawing up a list of pros and cons to aid your new car buying decision, you’re going to struggle to find much about the A5 and S5 Sportback to put in the cons column. There are some domestic rivals that might save you a few dollars, and a number of them are much closer to cars like the Audi than they used to be a few years ago. However, nearer doesn’t necessarily mean close, and it’s going to be a while before the competition catches up with this one.

Grzegorz Czapski / Shutterstock

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