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2018 Audi A5 Sportback Test Drive Review

The longer we live, the less we have to wait for particular things. Previous generations had to cook their food the old-fashioned way until the speedy microwave oven came along. Now we don’t even have to take the time to do our own grocery shopping. With just a few taps on a smartphone, we can have someone else do the aisle searching for us, then have them deliver the food we need (and the snacks we want) at our doorsteps.

Look at the movie industry. Decades ago, if someone missed seeing a hit movie in theaters, they had to wait for it to be broadcast on television. Then came video rental stores (remember those?). Those had their own kind of waiting. If someone checked out the last copy of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, you could only rent it after they returned it to the store. Eventually, Netflix changed all of that by saving movie lovers the time it took to drive to a bricks-and-mortar video store. However, the movies-by-mail model wasn’t exactly instant. Now we can just flip on our smart TVs and start watching a movie in seconds. No driving, no mailing, no waiting.

When it comes to a wide variety of vehicles, U.S. customers have not had to wait to be able to purchase them. We’ve had quick access to the lovable and affordable Ford Mustang for more than 50 years. Bentleys are exotic, but not completely alien to our eyes. Although full-size pickup trucks may not fit the narrow streets of certain foreign countries, they have no problem fitting on dealer lots here in the United States.

However, there have been certain models that took their time getting to our shores, such as the Ford Focus RS and the Honda Civic Type R. For years, Audi denied American consumers access to its coupe-like sedan, the A5 Sportback.

Not anymore.

It finally arrived in dealerships last spring as a 2018 model. The A5 Sportback offers twice the cargo capacity of the A5 coupe, turbocharged power, and Audi’s signature quattro all-wheel drive, all wrapped in sleek and stylish bodywork. Trim lines range from the entry-level Premium with 18-inch wheels and a seven-inch color center screen to Premium Plus with full LED headlights and keyless entry/start to the top-of-the-line Prestige with navigation and a 755-watt, 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system.

Audi sent us a 2018 A5 Sportback with the Premium Plus package and options which included Monsoon Gray metallic paint, the B&O audio setup, and navigation with the cool Audi virtual cockpit. You don’t have to wait to read what we thought of it. You can do that right now.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback Exterior

When automakers try to blend two body styles together, there’s always a risk of it looking awkward and strange – more of a smudging of lines than a blurring of them. Audi pulled it off with the A5 Sportback. We found its styling modern, graceful, and well proportioned. The wide and flat Singleframe grille sat between the automatic LED headlights and served as the visual starting point of the hood’s strong character lines.

Have you heard the term “speedform” before? It’s basically a minimalist presentation – a smooth, flowing, aerodynamic sculpture – of a car’s general shape. In profile, the A5 Sportback seems to be a speedform that’s ready to drive. Its wave-design shoulder line starts at the tip of the headlights, flows across the doors, gently arches over the rear wheels, then finishes softly right before it reaches the LED taillights. Audi’s design team draped the roofline over the chrome-ringed greenhouse and blended it into the kicked-up rear end of the hatch.

Below that, the chiseled taillight casings, which contained turn signals that progressively lit up in the direction we were going, pointed toward each other while the round exhaust tips pointed straight outward.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback Interior

Our test vehicle featured an interior color that Audi calls “Nougat Brown.” It makes sense to us because the inside of the A5 Sportback was a sweet place to be. Everything we touched, from the leather-wrapped steering wheel to the metallic switchgear for the three-zone automatic climate control system to the optional high-gloss Dark Brown Walnut wood accents felt as if it was made with care and quality.

Standard equipment included a seven-inch color driver information display between the tachometer and speedometer, leather seats with eight-way power adjustability in the front, LED interior lighting, and a power tilting and sliding sunroof. The Premium Plus Package added heat to the front seats, a two-setting memory function to the driver’s seat, and auto-folding heated side mirrors with memory. The optional Navigation Package included the Audi virtual cockpit, which allowed us to get a big colorful eyeful of the nav screen in two different sizes between the tach and speedo. When we maxed out the nav display’s size, those two gauges were reduced in size and moved to the bottom corners of the screen.

We knew the A5 Sportback was going to be well insulated against outside noise, but it went beyond our expectations. That alone made our press loaner feel even more upscale than it already was. Audi bundled its optional two-tone 19-inch wheels with a sport suspension, which did little to make the A5 Sportback’s ride less than gentle, even when the Audi drive select system was set to its performance-focused Dynamic mode.

This 5’10” writer had enough legroom and headroom in the second row, but did notice that anyone who’s 6’0” or taller may have a hard time fitting back there comfortably. No matter how tall you are, you can store 21.8 cubic feet of gear in the cargo area. That figure goes up to 35 cubic feet when you lay the back seats down.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback Performance

Just as the A5 Sportback’s designers perfectly melded coupe lines with a sedan layout, engineers did a great job of matching the car with a suitable powertrain. The turbocharged 2.0-liter I4’s 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque was just right for the A5 Sportback. A smooth and responsive seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive (with a 40:60 front to rear torque split) delivered that ideal output to the road. Fuel economy ratings are 24 city, 34 highway, and 27 conbined, according to the EPA.**

The Audi drive select system allowed us to alter the performance of some of the A5 Sportback’s hardware, such as its engine and transmission. Comfort mode was predictably relaxed. Auto was a midpoint between Comfort and Dynamic, which not only made the A5 Sportback more responsive, but also a little more vocal. We knew it was a natural for commuting and relaxed cruising on the highway. When we engaged Dynamic mode, put the transmission into its sport mode, and swung the tachometer need hard to the right, we discovered the A5 Sportback can also be good for an adrenaline rush.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback Safety

In addition to its eight standard airbags, ABS, Brake Assist, preventative occupant detection, low speed collision assist, stability control, rearview camera, and tire pressure monitoring system, our A5 Sportback tester featured a couple of convenient and innovative safety technologies. Since our particular A5 Sportback had the Premium Plus trim, it came with the parking system plus for detecting front and rear hazards while parking and Audi side assist with pre sense rear. That duo was able to alert us if a vehicle was in our blind spot and close the sunroof and windows, and pre-tighten the seatbelts if an accident happened to be unavoidable. If we had opened any of the doors when a vehicle or cyclist was approaching, LED lights in the cabin would’ve illuminated to let us know they were coming.

It was nice knowing all of the safety technology that surrounded us. It was even better knowing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2018 Audi A5 Sportback a five-star 5-Star Overall Safety Rating.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback Overall

If you can’t wait to drive the attractive, comfortable, and safe 2018 Audi A5 Sportback, don’t. Go to an AutoNation Audi dealership, take it for a spin, then take it home. Prices start at $42,600.* A Premium Plus model just like the one we drove will have a sticker price of $52,100.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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