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- Highs Stunning looks, versatile hatchback body style, Audi fit and finish.
- Lows Oddly uninvolving handling, slow off the line.
- Verdict Proof that it takes more than stirring styling, tenacious grip, and a powerful engine to stir our souls.
The four-door hatchback 2019 Audi S5 Sportback combines the comfort and convenience of the S4 sedan with the sleek looks of the S5 coupe. The S5 Sportback is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine with 354 horsepower and an ample 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 2019 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 2019?
A new 20-inch wheel design is the sole difference between the 2018 and 2019 model years.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The Premium Plus model comes nicely equipped with features such as leather seating, heated front seats with a massaging function, three-zone automatic climate control, and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen. But we can't help wanting a few more toys, so we'd order the S Sport package which adds red brake calipers, an adaptive suspension, and a torque-vectoring rear differential.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Likes: Torquey turbocharged V-6, swift acceleration, tons of cornering grip.
Dislikes: Lazy responses in Comfort mode, not as engaging to drive as more focused rivals.
Displacing 3.0 liters, the turbo V-6 is more powerful and torquier than the supercharged engine that came in last generation's S5. At our test track, the S5 Sportback managed a swift 4.3-second run from zero to 60 mph, just 0.2 second behind the Mercedes-AMG C43. 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. Similarly, the transmission is reluctant to downshift at speed in Comfort mode. Again, swapping to Dynamic or Auto largely rectifies this issue. Regardless of mode, the all-wheel-drive S5 Sportback is devoid of wheelspin on acceleration.
Our test car was equipped with both optional 19-inch performance tires and the 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 cornering grip. Those buyers with the skills and experience to push the Sportback to its lofty limits, though, will find that the S5 Sportback defaults to fun-killing understeer.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The S5 Sportback is one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles within its competitive set. Rated at 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway by the EPA, the 354-hp S5 Sportback is almost as fuel efficient on paper as the small, 160-hp Fiat 500L. The S5 Sportback returned 33 mpg on our real-world highway fuel-economy route—a noteworthy improvement over its EPA rating.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Well-built cabin, great driving position, plenty of technology features.
Dislikes: Limited small-item storage, cool Virtual Cockpit limited to top Prestige model.
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. Every S5 Sportback features luxuries such as front seats with heating and massage functions, three climate-control zones, a sunroof, and a proximity key with push-button start.
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. Features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, voice control, and Bluetooth phone and audio are standard.
Thanks to its hatchback body style, the S5 Sportback is impressively versatile and has one of the roomiest trunks in this segment; we fit six carry-on suitcases with the rear seats in place and a whopping 16 with the seats folded. Cabin storage space for smaller items such as phones and sunglasses is limited but par for the class.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Nearly all of the latest driver-assistance gear is available in the S5 Sportback, and Audi makes key features such as front and rear automated emergency braking standard. The S5 Sportback has yet to be crash-tested by either of the independent testing agencies. Key safety features include:
- Standard front and rear automated emergency braking
- Standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The S5 Sportback's warranty is average for the class and its complimentary scheduled maintenance period doesn't last as long as those of a number of other manufacturers, including BMW and Jaguar.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for 1 year or 10,000 miles