Reviews

The 2020 Audi A5 Sportback, a Bit Damp

It’s a brand new week, and I’m again with one other German automotive Rental Evaluation on your enjoyment! At the moment’s rental is considered one of two American market entrants into the premium compact five-door liftback phase, and never a automotive one expects to seek out in an Enterprise lot. Presenting a 2020 Audi A5 Sportback, two years and 50,000 rental miles later.

The A5 Sportback runs within the oft-ignored liftback class alongside the equally priced BMW 4-Collection Gran Coupe. However the Audi’s title is a bit deceptive: The actual A5 is obtainable as a coupe or convertible, has two doorways, and rides on a shorter wheelbase than the A5 Sportback. The Sportback is really an upmarket tackle the A4. In all instructions, it’s inside an inch in dimension of the A4 other than top, the place the A4 trumps the A5 Sportback by an inch and a half.

The 2 automobiles have the identical options, styling, and engine, however the additional cargo capability of the Sportback calls for a premium. The place the A4 begins at $39,900 in its most elementary format, the present A5 Sportback asks $43,900. The identical engine powers all A5 Sportbacks, throughout the Premium, Premium Plus, and Status trims. Every trim is obtainable as 40 TFSI spec with 201 horsepower, or 45 TFSI spec at 261 horses. Costs prime out over $55,000 for the highest Status trim in 45 TFSI spec.

Trims modified for the A5 Sportback in 2021 when the engine gained a light hybrid system and the 40 TFSI specification was launched. Between 2018 and 2020 all automobiles had been the 45 TFSI and had 248 horsepower. And although base horsepower dropped by 47 in 2021, costs didn’t lower. The price of progress, I suppose.

$42,900 was the 2020 ask of the rental A5 Premium 45 TFSI Quattro, which sported $0 black paint, and a black inside. Tan, brown, and grey interiors can be found presently for no further cost. Quattro all-wheel-drive has all the time been normal on the A5 Sportback, and so is leather-based; two issues not current within the competitors.

Exterior panel gaps are constant and tight throughout the Sportback’s svelte physique. Present Audi design language interprets nicely right here, even when the black paint does the automotive no favors (it appears to be like higher in another coloration.) Trim alignment is superb, and there’s a pleasant continuous piece of chrome trim throughout the roofline because the Sportback has frameless home windows. The frameless home windows and liftback are the one actual variations between the A4 sedan and A5 Sportback.

Sadly, the shiny (and soiled) black paint exhibits orange peel alongside the roof line, and beneath the aspect home windows. Paint high quality in different areas was good, although the gloss black was now not very lustrous after a few years of damage. Plastic panels up prime accommodate the perform of the panoramic glass roof and replicate hazy floor scratches. And though it’s a “panoramic” piece of glass, the precise roof opening inside is smaller than many a typical sedan, and the glass panel doesn’t open totally. This roof association is primarily to take care of easy exterior appears to be like.

The A5 makes use of dogleg door handles that angle upward when pulled, moderately than outward. Mixed with a heavy door, the online feeling is a scarcity of leverage. Fingers seize naturally on the nook of the window to open the door totally, which suggests all home windows are marked with smudges. Door deal with use sounds low cost and plastic on the skin, however inside operates with a top quality movement. Doorways shut with a reassuring thunk and really feel heavy and stable of their use. All home windows drop barely in coupe trend to forestall glass injury upon closure.

Inside, the presentation is normal A4. The whole lot feels nicely put collectively, and there’s no VW elements bin. The sprint is product of a stable rubbery materials, very similar to one finds in a BMW. There’s a traditional-looking strip of thick plastic wooden trim throughout the sprint and down the middle console that’s very excessive gloss and appears unnatural. Nonetheless, the trim appears to be like higher with any different inside coloration aside from black, because the black clashes.

Black abounds with any inside coloration selection, as a lot of the opposite trim across the cabin is product of beautiful piano black plastic. Extremely shiny in end, it exhibits loads of hazing and scratches after two years’ use. It’s a foul materials selection across the heart console cubbies and cup holders the place occupants naturally toss issues.

Above, headliners are product of a scratchy and decidedly non-premium fabric materials. The small “panoramic” roof opening doesn’t lengthen over the again seat, and its solar shade is a perforated fabric that doesn’t filter out all mild. Think about some basketball shorts stretched over a skylight and also you’re there. The shade will be operated independently of the roof and left closed whereas the roof glass is open.

The usual leather-based seating surfaces are delicate sufficient, and given the in depth use of this instance appear to carry up beneath arduous utilization and minimal care. Seats on the entrance have loads of energy changes and ample backside cushion for these with longer legs. Most ought to discover consolation behind the wheel of the A5. Rear seat passengers have a really respectable quantity of leg room for a compact automotive, although headroom suffers from the sloping roof on the Sportback. It’s not a automotive for individuals who usually have grownup passengers within the rear. Nonetheless, the rear seat will get its personal zone for local weather management with separate temperature adjustment – a pleasant contact.

Along with a really massive cargo space within the Sportback (a powered liftgate is normal), the rear seats fold all the way down to create wagon-like capability. A board-like cargo cowl behind the rear seats is supplemented with one other that raises together with the again glass. Each guarantee full cargo privateness or will be eliminated if the rear space shall be utterly crammed.

Local weather controls are an attention-grabbing mixture of passable controls and aggravating switches. Dials for driver and passenger management temperature, really feel properly made, and click on with authority. Between them is a row of 5 buttons, which management fan route, AC kind, and fan velocity. These are touch-dependent and present their full perform solely when touched. They rock up and down for choice. It takes an excessive amount of consideration off the street as the knowledge offered on the local weather display screen adjustments when a button is touched.

The local weather management struggles to maintain the inside cool on an 88-degree day, however the black paint, leather-based, and lack of tint don’t help. Heated seats are normal, however ventilated chairs are locked behind the $54,500 Status trim.

Beneath the local weather is a row of much less typically used buttons for the drive mode, traction management, a bunch of blanks (on this trim), and the stop-start defeat. There’s a separate radio dial subsequent to the shifter which controls tuning and quantity. It’s additionally a “energy” button, however the radio isn’t actually off, simply muted.

Audio high quality is ok with the essential (non B+O) system within the A5, however its lack of enter strategies is irritating. CarPlay and Android Auto are current, however through twine solely. There’s no XM Radio tuner, and there’s no Bluetooth in any respect until the Audi driving app is put in first. It’s not potential to shortly join and play music within the A5, and that’s awful.

Audi is stingy with different tech within the Premium A5 trim. Gauges are normal analog with a central display screen. They’re clear and good to take a look at, nonetheless, and the central display screen has good readability. It presents restricted data, however in a concise and usable method. Audi’s MMI system is proscribed within the Premium, and although the navigation arrow is there, the system reminds you that you simply didn’t purchase it. However that’s what Apple/Android are for anyway.

Additionally lacking are blind-spot detection and any driving aids moreover crash avoidance. The backup digicam’s picture just isn’t of nice high quality and has the type of fish-eye distortion that makes all parking areas look perilously small. It was extra a hindrance than a helper when parking. The central display screen is 10.1″ right here (12″ in higher trims) and feels stable. Tug at all of it you want, no flexing or creaks to be heard. Picture readability is sharp, and the restricted menus make sense of their association.

The A5 pleasantly stunned with its drive. The two.0T Audi makes use of in lots of its automobiles produces 248 horses and 273 torques on this software. It’s a heavy automotive at 3,726 kilos, simply 150 shy of an all-wheel-drive 5-Collection. And though the 2 automobiles share a horsepower determine, the 25 additional torques of the A5 make a giant distinction. The seven-speed automated works nicely with the two.0 to drag the Sportback together with authority; it all the time feels able to go quicker and isn’t out of breath.

There may be turbo lag although, which rears its head in slower around-town driving and from standing begins. Ground it from a cease, and there are a few seconds of slow-ish progress till the turbo spools up, and off you go. You attain 60 in a formidable 5.7 seconds.

The transmission carries out its duties nicely, normally. Relying on which mode the automotive is in (consolation, dynamic, auto, particular person), the transmission adjusts to serve up gears roughly harshly. In the identical method, steering effort will be made heavier, and engine noise can, sadly, be added through the audio system. By itself, the two.0 produces an honest sound for an inline-four and doesn’t sound prefer it’s burdened.

With its efficiency, the Sportback is glad to be tossed round again roads. The steering is direct and weighted to desire through drive mode however doesn’t present a lot suggestions. Brakes are sturdy and produce the A5 to a halt as shortly as required. The throttle is simple to be taught and function. There’s all the time loads of grip with the all-wheel drive, although if a nook is attacked too quickly lift-off oversteer could happen. Whoops.

The Sportback suffers a bit round city and on the open interstate, for 2 completely different causes. In stop-and-go visitors the transmission fumbles gears now and again, as if it’s not prepared for mild braking adopted by mild acceleration. The stop-start system interfered right here too, with a jerky startup process that prompted a little bit of lag earlier than motion. Simply defeated through a devoted button beneath the local weather management.

No such transmission issues at interstate speeds, however there’s a brand new one: Noise. Over 70 miles per hour, there’s notable wind noise from across the aspect mirrors, and street noise comes via the wheel wells into the cabin. It’s not a results of the liftback inflicting echo, simply not fairly sufficient insulation. Given the sporty mission of the A5, the noise degree just isn’t unacceptable. Gas financial system is within the low to acceptable vary: 24 metropolis, 32 freeway, and 27 mixed. After 18,152 miles on the rental, the common was 29 mpg.

In all conditions, the Sportback’s experience errs on the sporty aspect of snug. Street imperfections are soaked up properly, however you’ll actually hear them. Trip high quality is mostly very composed and buttoned-down, to the place it’s arduous to seek out fault with the A5 in that space. Simply an excellent compromise of management and cushioning, and positively on a regular basis livable.

There’s the place I used to be going to wrap this evaluation, however the day after sunny testing one thing very regarding occurred. Whereas driving on I-75 within the rain, water poured in across the window seal of the motive force’s door. It appears on this instance that frameless design is inflicting water issues after simply 50,000 miles. Verifying in photographs from the day earlier than, I seen the shortage of a driver’s ground mat and the water stain within the footwell. This has been a persistent situation for this automotive.

And so my A5 advice comes with two caveats. The primary is that if you don’t completely want the additional cargo space of the liftback, get the A4 in comparable trim and avoid wasting money. The A4 has frames on its home windows and is much less prone to have a water situation than the Sportback. The second caveat is about energy: If deciding on both automotive, spend the three additional grand (at any trim) and get the 45 TFSI model. The horsepower distinction shrinks the time to 60 from 6.7 seconds to five.4, and that’ll make all of the distinction.

[Images: Corey Lewis/The Truth About Cars]

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