With the S4's supercharged V6, the A5 Sportback is now a proud bearer of the Audi S badge.
Photos: Joel Tam
With the introduction of the A5 Sportback in two engine variants of a base 2.0 TFSI quattro model and the V6 powered 3.2 FSI quattro, what's next for this particular automotive oddity that insists on being classified as a coupe? The next possible thing would be the transplantation of the S4's supercharged V6 engine to the Sportback, making it a sportier Sportback, if that is how you want to refer it as. With this move, the S5 Sportback is now the highest specced model of the Sportback model series, till Audi decides to create a RS5 Sportback that is...
By now, most of you readers would be familiar with Audi's A5 Sportback range of cars, but just to recap, the new A5 Sportback or in this case, the sportier S5 variant is an Audi A5 coupe with rear doors added to aid in the ease of ingress and egress from the rear sans the troublesome adjustment of the front seats. The Sportback also comes with a hatchback tailgate and a larger boot, that essentially makes it an A4 hatchback, but identity denial aside, the rear boot that is hinged to the roof is indeed a useful addition in crafting this car's 'Sportback' identity. Since the S5 Sportback is an A5 Sportback imbued with 'go faster' bits, I shall focus on the car's performance instead of rattling on and on like a mindless anthropomorphised car product catalogue.
S is for sporty and S is also for speed, so in order for the Sportback to be worthy of Audi's S badge, the car has to offer even more in order to attract potential buyers who want that extra more in performance. And that is exactly what the S5 Sportback has - a supercharged V6 for more power, Audi's S styling for sportier aestheticism as well as a sportier chassis set up for better handling. But more on the S5's engine first. As mentioned earlier, the S5 Sportback's three litre supercharged V6 is the exact same one sourced from the S4 and rightfully so for the S5 Sportback is essentially a S4 based vehicle if automotive taxonomy is anything to go by. With force induction, the S5's V6 churns out 333bhp worth of power, which is a huge difference as compared to the base 2.0 TFSI's 211bhp and 68bhp more than the 3.2 FSI model. As for torque, the S5 Sportback dishes out a whooping 440Nm as compared to the 3.2 FSI's 330Nm, how's that for sporty and speed?
Off the blocks, this is where the fun comes in. Transmitting power to all four wheels is Audi's seven-speed S Tronic dual clutch transmission, bringing the car from nought to 100 in just 5.4 seconds, which is 1.2 seconds faster than its other two lesser siblings. On the move, the S5 Sportback excels at all rev bands, making it a very tractable car in high speeds. The pulling power of the car kicks in early at low revs, due to the lag free supercharger and this continues on all the way past the 3,000 rpm mark with the engine showing no signs of waning. Also, the V6 engine gives off a relatively sporty note, though it lacks the melodic rumble of the S5 coupe's V8. And coupled with the S5 Sportback's exhaust note, driving the car is truly an automotive bliss in the aural department.
So how does the car fare in handling then? Previously when I first reviewed the A5 Sportback, I was truly impressed by the car's ability to conduct itself ably in performance, as such I harbour greater expectations for the S5 Sportback, and true to its S badge, the car did not disappoint me. As compared to its lesser A5 Sportback siblings, the S5 Sportback's ride height is set considerably lower with a stiffer suspension setting. This results in better body control although the ride is now not as pliant as before. That being said however, the S5 Sportback still drives like a dream, as it grips round corners with nary a hint of body roll all thanks to its quattro drive train and the steering precise though feedback is a wee lacking.
With its power and performance sorted, how does one distinguish the S5 Sportback from its two other A5 Sportback siblings? From the exterior, one can differentiate between the S5 Sportback and the A5 Sportback models by Audi's signature S design cues like the car's front grille, aluminium side mirrors, quad exhausts and 19 inch alloys, while the interior is further accentuated with a sporty red theme that is found on the front seats, steering wheel stitching and more.
In summary, the A5 Sportback was never a logical car to purchase when an A5 coupe is clearly available as a sporty head turner. And for the excuse of having extra doors for the rear passengers, you have the choice of either the A4 sedan or the Avant. But, what if you have the best of both worlds? A car that effectively fills the niche in giving the owner something that is both practical and sporty at the same time. The A5 Sportback is just the car for the job and best of all, it now sports the S badge.