Curious car this. It’s a five-door coupe with four-wheel drive and 328bhp. It’s not the ‘milestone in car design’ Audi would have you believe (remember the Rover SD1 or Citroën CX?), but it’s a tidy, stylish and practical shape.
And it gets curiouser. Unlike the two-door S5 Coupe, a supercharged 3-litre V6 powers the Sportback, not a naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8. The V6 offers marginally improved fuel efficiency, but nothing like the character and soundtrack. That said, with 324lb ft (the same as the V8) there’s strong performance in all seven gears, while the twin-clutch S-tronic gearbox is fast and effective, if over-eager to reach seventh gear – and optimum fuel efficiency – when in auto mode.
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With 19-inch wheels and ‘sport’ suspension coming as standard, the ride is firm and wheel travel a little abrupt over compressions, but with help from the typically indomitable quattro drivetrain (there’s also the option of a torque-biasing ‘Sport differential’) fast progress is possible with very little effort from the driver.
And here’s the rub. The Sportback is an appealing car, if not an original concept. It’s beautifully made, fast and spacious. It’s also handsome and dripping with road presence. But does it engage with the driver? No. Does it reveal any dynamic secrets the more you drive it? No. Curious but unappealing, if you rate driver involvement over style that is.
|Engine||V6, 2995cc, supercharger|
|Max power||328bhp @ 5500-7000rpm|
|Max torque||324lb ft @ 2900-5300rpm|
|Top speed||155mph (limited)|