Premium executive cars has predominantly been in the form of sedans. The car buying public has been traditionally inclined to perceive a hatchback as “mainstream”. Saab abandoned the premium hatchback after the (1994-2003) Saab 900, and it wasn’t until last year’s bizarre looking BMW 5-series GT that reignited the five-door hatchback format in the premium car sector.
Not to miss out on the action, Audi has recently introduced a brand new model, the A5 Sportsback. A model which Audi predicts to be firm’s second largest selling model after the A4 sedan in Singapore. According to the marketing spin doctors, the A5 Sportsback, the third and last variant to the A5 range is a coupé but with the four doors like a sedan and the functionality of an Avant (Audi speak for a wagon). So picture this:
We are undecided if the new Audi A5 Sportback is an A4 sedan with a tailgate, or an A5 Coupé with four doors. Size-wise, the 4711mm Sportback is 8mm longer than an A4 sedan, with a wheelbase just 2mm longer, at 2810mm. It’s also perceptibly wider, a front track of 1590mm gaining 26mm on the A4, and despite the low slung looks, it gives away just 5mm of rear headroom to the A4. Both rear legroom and 480 litres of loadspace are directly on a par with the A4. And by offering near A4 sedan amount of accommodation, the A5 Sportsback offers safety seat belts for four, but with space for five.
Unfortunately the price for function is losing some of the driving appeal of the A5 Coupé. Agility suffers with the additional 9cm in body length needed to accommodate the pair of doors and the weight of the hefty tailgate. Coupled with the lack of feedback from the steering, the A5 Sportsback is not exactly what you would describe as a sports car in terms of driving pleasures. Well, at least the Audi Drive Select module does give the Sportsback acceptable ride comfort considering the ultra aggressive 19” footwear which is mandatory to fit the massive wheel arches.
Our press car was equipped with a lusty 3.2 litre V6 engine mated with Audi’s sublimely oleaginous, seven-speed DSG gearbox. A soothing and refined combination that would appeal to some even though the base model 2.0 T has more torque and better fuel economy to boot. The shortfall on torque does little to distract the 3.2 V6’s ability to sprint to 100 km/h from rest in 6.6 secs.
Perhaps the single biggest concern here would be the styling of the A5 Sportsback. The inclusion of the narrow third side window (behind the rear door) suggests too much “hatchback”. Apparently, this has much to do with paying homage to the 1969 Audi 100 Coupé. But shouldn’t the sexy lines of the two-door coupe donor be retained ala the Aston Martin Rapide from the DB7?
So why would Audi desexify it’s beautiful A5 Coupé with this five-door hatchback format? Ignoring the marketing fluff, with Saab’s 9-3 hatch now defunct and BMW’s 5-series GT occupying the class above, the A5 Sportback is the only “compact” premium hatchback in the market.
Kudos to the Audi Marketing research team who has scored an ace by identifying a niche in the premium market and that may well prove to be immensely popular. Pity the finished product is too close to the A4 sedan in our humble opinion.
|Engine||3197cc, V6 DOHC|
|Max. Power||265bhp @6500rpm|
|Max. Torque||330NM @3000 - 5000rpm|
|0-100 km/h||6.6 secs|
|Fuel Economy||10.8 km/L (combined)|
|Dimensions (L x W x H) / Weight||4711mm X 1854mm X1391mm / 1650kg|
|Price with COE*||S$201,800|
The A5 Sportback is great, but it will be humiliated by Audi's own, upcoming A7...
Sorry Audi..Great Concept but execution is off.
Think...If a man tells you that he is hetrosexual, have sex with women but at the same time, he enjoys being anally active (both insertive and receptive) with men.
In the 1970s neither the Citroen CX or Lancia Gamma were hatchbacks, just fastback saloons.
The Renault 30 was a five door hatchback as was the car that clearly inspired this new Audi - the 5 cylinder Avant from 1979.
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