Every year, there’s one car at this test that steals our collective heart just by the way it looks. What can we say, we’re suckers for a pretty machine! It’ll be no surprise to learn that, this year, that car was the Audi A5 Sportback. Especially in the crimson red of our test car, the A5 Sportback is stunning.
This is a ‘sportback’ that has absolutely perfect proportions – and it’s a four-door sportback that, with its frameless doors, truly does look like a coupe. The roofline drops sharply to a very distinctive shoulder line right above a pair of very well formed rear haunches. This subtle aggression is carried on throughout the front and back of the A5, and it makes for a very cohesive, and pleasing, design.
This subtlety and restraint is carried into the cabin of the A5 as well, which has a clean, minimalist design that screams luxury and sporty at the same time. And the quality of materials are just about as good as they get in the automotive world. Yes, room in the rear seat is a little cramped but somehow it just seems to add to the occasion of this machine. The A5 appears low slung, sexy and very desirable.
Of course, this stance – thanks to its low centre of gravity – helps the A5 on the move as well. There’s simply no body roll to speak of and the A5 just darts towards the apex of corners at your every whim. The A5 Sportback, unlike the S5 Sportback, is front-wheel drive but there’s simply no sense of torque steer of wheelspin whatsoever from this machine. You’d think that the A5 would be challenging on the road because of how focussed it is on the track, but you’d be mistaken. Other than the fact that you have to watch out for extra large speed breakers – thanks to its relatively low ride height – the A5 is extremely livable and drivable everyday. The ride quality, and the ride-and-handling balance, really is very good.
When you fire up the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine, you can’t really tell if there’s a diesel or petrol motor under the hood – that’s how refined the engine is, and how good the refinement levels are. The engine makes 188bhp and 400Nm of torque, and, because this toque is imminently usable, the A5 feels faster than its figures suggest – this is evidenced by the fact that the A5 is the third fastest car in this entire test. Imagine, then, just how fast the S5 will be in the real world.
The only thing missing in the A5 is the fact that – because it’s just so good – it feels a little clinical. The steering, like all Audis, is completely lifeless. It’s very sharp, precise and well weighted, but it’s also synthetic at the same time. But this slight lack of grit and character is more than made up for by the fact that the A5 represents everything we’ve come to expect of the Audi brand – just utter, sheer, and complete excellence. Vorsprung durch Technik, Advancement through Technology, is Audi’s tagline, and that’s epitomised by the A5.
It’s sheer engineering excellence, every inch of it, and that’s what makes it a worthy recipient of one of our coveted ‘Best of 2017’ awards.