By the time you read these lines, I’ll be on a plane headed for Spain to test drive and review the all-new 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS. It was 14 years ago that Benz revealed the CLS at the 2004 New York Auto Show. I was there, and my heart melted. In no time flat, BMW and Audi launched their own versions of the 4-door coupé and it’s been hit or miss every time.
When properly executed, a low-slung, extended roof line can be excruciatingly gorgeous or completely uninspired and aimed solely at selling more cars. The Mercedes-Benz CLA is one such example of the latter – I don’t like the car. The 2nd generation CLS did the same thing – Merc was trying too hard. BMW’s 4-Series Grand Coupé is ok at best, but the 6 Series Grand Coupé is to die for! Contrary to the others, Audi has yet to mess up this body style. The old and new A7 are magnificent and well, the A5 Sportback might be the greatest of them all. Oh, and the Porsche Panamera? I’ll let you judge it.
A new 2018 Audi A5 Sportback always catches my eye when I see one. When I happen to spot an S5 Sportback, I stop and watch it disappear on the horizon. When I finally got to drive the car for a whole week, I made sure to spend as much time as possible in its company and that I did. I covered 1,300 km in a few days with the S5 and I’d do it over and over again until the oil wells run dry.
While my favorite body style is and will always be the station wagon, the current crop of 4-door coupés or 5-door hatchbacks will do fine. For now.
The A5 product line has proven exceptionally popular, selling almost as many units in 2017 as A3s. The Sportback’s incredible combination of a dynamic front graphic, stunning character lines beautiful butt will surely ensure that the A5 line will outsell the A3 in 2018.
The S5 raises the street-cred bar with a deeper front bumper, larger wheels (19” on the Technik) LED headlights, integrated trunk-lid spoiler and more. All colours do the car justice and my tester’s Navarra Blue finish was sublime.
Sublime, in part, when combined with the Rotor grey leather seats, complete with diamond stitching and integrated head rests. The dashboard is a beautiful example of German efficiency with few visible controls, limited expanses of plastics and impressive build quality.
The Sportback is an A4+, without being an Allroad. What I mean to say is that it will accommodate five passengers but not without small compromises. The singular issue with accessing the available rear passenger space happens to be the car’s most important exterior design feature.
The slopping roofline seriously cuts into rear headroom. It also makes ingress and egress from the back of the car more challenging. As well, if a Sportback happens to be your family car (lucky dog), getting your child into and extracting your child out of the baby seat can be difficult. For kids between the ages of say 8 and 15, under 5’10” in height, they’ll be sound as a Pound.
The boot is brilliant and a great way to have your cake and eat it too. It’ll swallow a pair of golf bags with ease or plenty of gear for your favorite activity. The front seats are nearly perfect. The spouse and I spent nearly 14 hours (over a 36-hour period) in the car without complaint or soreness thanks in part to its massaging function.
Interior storage space is somewhat limited, as we discovered first hand. In this case, the rear bench doubled as extra storage for gloves, and other whatnots.
A strictly basic 2018 Audi A5 coupe starts at $46,350 while the range Boss, the RS 5, rings in at $82,500. The A5 Sportback is $47,950 and swapping the “A” for an “S” will set you back $61,500 for a Progressiv trim. Stepping up to the Technik S5 throws in the Audi virtual cockpit, Bang & Olufsen audio system and 19” wheels for $65,600.
As tested, my S5 featured all the options on the menu. The Advanced Driver Assistance, red brake calipers, quattro with rear sport differential, head-up display, dynamic steering and S Sport suspension all contributed to raising the retail price to just shy of $76,000.
The Technik does include Audi connect, but both versions get MMI Navigation plus with 8.3″ display, Bluetooth, satellite radio, smartphone interface and more.
The Audi S4 and S5 share a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6. Output is rated at 354 horsepower between 5,400 and 6,400 rpm and 369 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,370 to 4,500 rpm. Combined with the standard 8-speed automatic transmission, this kind of power is enough to launch the S5 Sportback to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds.
What I love is that on paper, it reads fast but from the driver’s seat, it feels that much faster. The instant swell of linear unobstructed torque pulls and pushes relentlessly until lifting your right foot has become the civilized thing to do.
One of the many mechanical and optional features on this car is the S sports suspension with damping control. The adaptive dampers are able to juggle the long highway jaunt just as well as they can keep the driver in full control when quickly merging onto a highway. The level of comfort, without compromising a sporty ride, is perfect at all times. Audi dynamic steering was also selected in this car’s build. Its quickness to respond surprises at first but rapidly becomes second-nature.
Through the Audi Drive Select drive modes, I found Comfort combined with the Tiptronic set in Sport to be the best overall combination for efficiency and performance. Truth be told, and you may have guessed it by now, this car is very good no matter what.
The 2018 Audi S5 maybe one of the most endearing long-distance cruiser for all the reasons above. I absolutely loved stopping for a washroom/coffee break, if only to step out of the car, look back, and smile. And despite the S5’s power and girth, I was the one that needed the pit stops more than it as I averaged an impressive 9.5L/100 km all week.