Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI S line

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Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI S line front tracking

Four-door coupe gets styling tweaks, smoother ride and a cleaner engine

Verdict

4

An effective facelift that mildly tweaks the A5’s great looks and successfully addresses its few weaknesses. Ride quality is no longer the problem it was – the A5 is now comfortable even in sporty S line trim – while improved engine efficiency is always welcome. What’s more, a new three-seater rear bench increases the Sportback’s appeal for anyone who wants a stylish car that has to take care of family duties, too. If the goal of a facelift is to give a new lease of life, then Audi might just have come up trumps with the revamped-for-2012 A5.

Other than some stunningly-styled LED driving lamps and equally striking light graphics at the back, the visual changes to the A5 are of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it variety. We’re told the bumpers, grille and bonnet have been changed, too, but we struggled to tell the difference. The A5 remains a great looking car, though.

Inside, the few tweaks to the materials are hardly noticeable, either. The quality is still strong, but BMW’s new 3 Series has the edge. However, the 3 Series isn’t available (yet) as a five-door coupe like the A5 Sportback, while the 3 Coupe is a four-seater only – new to the Audi is a three-seat rear bench, for an extra £250.

That may add a great deal more practicality to the A5, but the middle passenger will have to sit with knees together and feet apart due to the (unused in front-wheel-drive cars) transmission tunnel. That aside, the rear is surprisingly practical with adequate head and leg space, while the boot is long, but shallow.

The biggest changes are to the ride (good) and the steering (not so good). Suspension tweaks have softened the previously over-firm ride to a level that’s much more acceptable; comfy even. Our A5 had the twin peril of S line sports suspension and 19-inch wheels, yet still rode reasonably well over the worst lumps and potholes.

The new, eco-friendly electromechanical steering may save fuel, but it feels more detached than before and a bit artificial. Grip levels are high, but the A5 doesn’t feel as sporty as a 3 Series – you’re more likely to get your kicks admiring those flowing lines. 

The updated 2.0-litre diesel is more frugal, too, now claiming a useful 60mpg and tax-friendly 120g/km of CO2. The upgrades have had more to do with 
economy than performance, but the engine is lively enough; power is delivered smoothly and it’s quiet on the move. Helping with economy and emissions is the standard stop-start, which is one of the least intrusive systems we’ve encountered.

At £31,250, the A5 Sportback is reasonably priced and there’s a decent smattering of standard kit, too: a quality stereo, Bluetooth, climate control and leather seats, plus the S line’s smart alloy wheels, sporty exterior styling bits and posher interior trim.

Key specs

* Price: £31,250
* Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
* Power/torque: 179bhp/380Nm
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
* 0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
* Top speed: 142mph
* Econ/CO2: 60.1mpg/120g/km
* Equipment: Bluetooth, climate control, leather seats, bodykit
* On sale: Now