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- Highs Powerful turbocharged V-6, heroic cornering grip, practical and stylish body.
- Lows Not as spacious inside as the S4 sedan, feels aloof on the road, no manual transmission.
- Verdict The high-performance S5 Sportback combines the style of the S5 coupe with the practicality of a hatchback sedan, but it doesn't engage its driver.
The four-door hatchback Audi S5 Sportback combines the comfort and convenience of the S4 sedan with the sleek looks of the S5 coupe and adds a dose of hatchback practicality. The 2018 S5 Sportback is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine with 354 horsepower and a heady 369 lb-ft of torque. A smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, and it works with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system to accelerate the Sportback with appropriate haste. In spite of its strong performance, the S5 Sportback is missing that special something that earns a car a spot in the sports-sedan hall of fame and in the hearts of enthusiasts. Its steering feel is distant, its chassis aloof. The Sportback benefits from the added versatility of its hatchback body and 22 cubic feet of cargo space behind its back seat. Practicality never looked so good; if only there were an equal amount of driver engagement.
What's New for 2018?
The S5 Sportback is all new for 2018, offering a hatchback body style for extra versatility. Based on the mechanical package of the S5 coupe and convertible, the four-door Sportback sits on a longer wheelbase than its two-door counterparts and casts a shadow 2.4 inches greater. Power comes courtesy of Audi’s latest forced-induction V-6 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The turbocharged 3.0-liter produces 354 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque—21 horses and 44 lb-ft of twist more than the supercharged V-6 that powered the previous-generation S5 coupe and convertible.
- Premium Plus: $57,975
- Prestige: $59,775
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
In place of the old S5’s supercharged V-6, the new S5 features a new turbocharged unit. Displacing 3.0 liters, the turbo V-6 is more powerful and torquier than its predecessor. The eight-speed automatic transmission performs admirably most of the time, but its preference for second-gear starts when in Comfort mode exacerbates the engine’s initial turbo lag and renders the S5 annoyingly sleepy off the mark. Tap the Drive Select switch out of Comfort mode and into Dynamic or Auto mode, however, and the S5 Sportback will eagerly leave the line in first gear. Regardless of mode, the all-wheel-drive S5 Sportback is devoid of wheelspin on acceleration, and the car’s four summer tires—ours had the larger 19-inchers, an $800 option—grip the pavement with tenacity when the throttle is uncorked. Quick and comfortable, the S5 Sportback puts up serious performance figures. Our test car was equipped with both the optional 19-inch performance tires and the $2500 S Sport package, which includes a torque-vectoring rear differential and adaptive dampers. These pieces together provide the S5 Sportback with a firm but forgiving ride and a lot of grip—0.95 g in our skidpad test. Those buyers with the skills and experience to push the Sportback to its limits, though, will find that the S5 Sportback defaults to fun-killing understeer. Our test car also sported the $1150 Dynamic Steering option, which features a steering setup that gets quicker the farther the wheel is turned. We found the pricey steering system lifeless and unpredictable—a big part of the reason it isn’t as rewarding to drive aggressively on twisty roads as we would hope. We recommend buyers stick with the S5 Sportback’s standard steering setup.
EPA fuel economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest and most accurate fuel economy numbers on current and older vehicles, we use the U.S. Department of Energy's fueleconomy.gov website. Under the heading "Find & Compare Cars" click on the Compare Side-by-Side tool to find the EPA ratings for the make, model, and year you're interested in.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Like all Audis, the S5 Sportback’s interior features high-quality materials, top-notch fit and finish, and an ergonomically friendly design. In spite of its low roofline, the S5 Sportback is relatively spacious on the inside. Those seeking even more interior space will be better served by the less swoopy but mechanically identical Audi S4, which includes almost half an inch more legroom for rear-seat passengers. Thanks to its hatchback body style, the S5 Sportback is impressively versatile and has a roomy trunk. Cabin storage space is limited but par for the class.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The S5 Sportback comes standard with a 7.0-inch infotainment screen on the dashboard and a separate 7.0-inch screen in the gauge cluster. An optional 8.3-inch center console infotainment screen adds navigation and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster screen, which Audi dubs Virtual Cockpit. Both infotainment setups boast ergonomic controls and clear graphics. Every S5 Sportback includes luxuries such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, voice control, and Bluetooth phone and audio. Although the standard 7.0-inch dashboard and 7.0-inch gauge-cluster screens feature stunning graphics and logical menu structures, the system can’t be paired with navigation. Adding that luxury requires choosing the S5 Sportback Prestige or adding the $2600 Navigation package to the Premium Plus. The package includes a larger 8.3-inch screen on the dash and a 12.3-inch gauge cluster.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
For more information about the Audi S5 Sportback’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites.
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.