Car and Driver reviews the Audi S5 Sportback

Typically, Americans aren’t fans of hatchbacks, liftbacks, wagons or any other odd body style of car that isn’t a traditional sedan, coupe or SUV. We’re a picky bunch, it seems. However, after recently speaking with our local dealer who we’re close with, the Audi A5 and S5 Sportback are selling incredible well. In fact, they can’t keep them on the lot. But it’s not just a local anomaly, as about half of all A5 and S5 cars sold since June have been Sportback models. Which is both surprising and reassuring for the American market. So why is the Audi S5 Sportback selling so well? Car and Driver finds out.

The first thing C&D mentions about the S5 Sportback is its looks, obviously. Not only does the Audi S5 Sportback come with two more doors than the coupe and a liftback-style hatchback, making it more practical, it’s also better looking. It looks low, sporty and pretty. Us car enthusiasts would take the Sportback variant over the Coupe variant in a heartbeat but Americans would typically not. However, it seems that many American customers are coming over to the Dark Side. “There’s no denying the S5 Sportback has style. Its tapered roofline, longer wheelbase, and kinked window line give the Sportback a visual presence missing from its two-door stablemates.” said C&D.

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On the inside, C&D is also impressed with the S5’s build quality, style and technology, saying “Per Audi norms, the S5 Sportback’s interior features rich materials pieced together with laser-tight precision. Ergonomics are top-notch, and the S5’s climate and multimedia controls are both intuitive and located within easy reach of the driver.” We agree, as all of Audi’s modern interiors are excellent.

Just like the Audi S5 Coupe, the Sportback variant comes packed with a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 engine, an eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive as-standard. Despite the extra weight of the Sportback body style, it’s exactly as fast as its coupe sibling to 60 mph, getting there in 4.3 seconds. And it feels as quick as that. However, if left in Comfort mode, there’s a bit of turbo lag that can be irritating when starting off in 2nd gear.

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But the Audi S5 Sportback isn’t just a pretty straight-line bruiser. It’s a properly capable sports car. Although, it could use some more enthusiasm, as it resorts to understeer a bit when pushed and it doesn’t always feel thrilled about cornering quickly. However, the grip is there, thanks to Quattro all-wheel drive and the optional rear sports differential, as the S5 Sportback pulled .95-gs on C&D’s test track.

So, overall, the Audi S5 Sportback is a very good sports car. It’s good looking, fast, has a great cabin, handles well and is even practical for most applications. While it isn’t cheap, with this specific test car costing around $68,000, it’s hard to find a more complete sports car package.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.