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2019 Audi S5 Sportback Review

The 2019 Audi S5 Sportback comes close to being a car for almost everyone. The first qualification should be anyone who can afford a premium compact car that’s actually higher up the range than the regular A5 Sportback on which this car is based.

The second qualification is size. The A5/S5 Sportback enjoys the same relationship to the A4 sedan that the larger A7 has with the A6. So it’s a 4-door car, only instead of having a trunk, there’s a hatchback integrated into a fastback roof line. The glory of the S version is that it’s more powerful than the regular A5 Sportback and comes with higher levels of equipment.

When an A becomes an S, it rides on a lowered and sportier suspension. There are aerodynamic additions, larger front air intakes and a model-specific rear fascia that accommodates four exhaust tailpipes. The alloy wheels have their own design and the brakes are upgraded. The cabin comes with supportive-yet-comfortable sport seats, smart ergonomics, high-class materials and an array of current automotive technologies.

Despite having a wonderful turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, fuel consumption is better than bearable. Selectable driving modes change the throttle, steering and transmission settings, including an Eco mode. With the optional adaptive suspension, these modes broaden the spectrum between cosseting and track-worthy. Factor in the added practicality of the hatchback and the split/folding rear seats, while sacrificing none of that special Audi style, and the S5 Sportback becomes even more appealing.

Coupe and cabriolet (convertible) versions of the S5 are reviewed separately.

What’s New for 2019?

A new entry level Premium trim joins the range. That now makes three trims and equipment is reshuffled among them as a result. Partially autonomous Park Assist becomes standard in Prestige trim. The optional Black Optic package now includes 20-in alloy wheels. And Audi has changed how it expresses horsepower figures. This year’s model comes with 349 horsepower, compared with last year’s 354 hp. There are no charges to the engine, however, and torque remains the same. See the 2019 Audi S5 Sportback models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Polished design
  • Hatchback practicality
  • Smart cabin
  • Superb driving manners
  • Muscular V6 engine

What We Don’t

  • Advanced driver aids only available in the top trim
  • Steering could be more tactile

How Much?

$53,395 to $61,495

Fuel Economy

The S5 Sportback has a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 developing 349 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. This connects to an 8-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. All-wheel drive (known on Planet Audi as quattro) is standard.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 21 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 4-seater 2019 Audi S5 Sportback comes in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels.

The Premium ($53,395) includes 18-in alloy wheels wearing summer performance tires, sport suspension, full LED exterior lighting, a panoramic sunroof, heated side mirrors, keyless entry/ignition, a powered lift gate, an adaptive rear spoiler, a tilt-and-telescoping flat-bottomed steering wheel, selectable driving modes, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather/Alcantara (simulated suede) seating surfaces with diamond stitching and embossed S badges, power-adjustable/heated/massaging front sport seats with active bolsters and driver’s-side memory settings, stainless steel pedals, ambient LED cabin lighting, a self-dimming rearview mirror with a digital compass, parking sensors front and rear, garage door opener, forward-collision warning, a 7-in display for the infotainment system, a 10-speaker audio setup, Bluetooth phone/audio streaming, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, and an HD radio.

An optional Convenience package for Premium trim includes an alarm system with motion sensors, rear collision warning, blind spot monitoring, self-dimming side mirrors, Advanced Key (keyless entry/ignition, remote start, lift gate opening), and satellite radio.

The Premium Plus ($57,795) has the Advanced Key as standard, plus blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rear collision mitigation, Virtual Cockpit (a high-resolution 12.3-in configurable driver information display), heated/self-dimming side mirrors with memory settings, 8-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, navigation, a touchpad controller with handwriting recognition, CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, wireless charging, phone signal booster, and Exit Assist (which warns of any approaching hazards when opening the doors).

The Prestige trim ($61,495) adds a head-up display, a top-view camera system, front/rear parking sensors, Park Assist partially autonomous parking, Wi-Fi, a Bang & Olufsen 755-watt/19-speaker audio setup, adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam Assist (a partially autonomous feature that steers and brakes in stop/go conditions), active lane keeping, automatic high beams and road sign recognition.

Premium Plus and Prestige trims are eligible for an S Sport package, which includes a sport-tuned adaptive suspension and a sport rear differential.

Other options include, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, larger alloy wheels, high-quality Nappa leather upholstery and variable-ratio steering.

Trunk space with the rear seats in place is a generous 21.8 cu ft. The rear seats will also split and fold. When they’re completely down, luggage area expands to 35.1 cu ft., which is enough for around seven big suitcases.

Safety

The S5 Sportback comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and eight airbags (front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain). Rear side airbags are optional.

This specific model has not been crash-tested by any North American agencies. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the regular A5 Sportback a top rating of five stars overall, with four stars apiece for front and side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has also made the A5 Sportback a Top Safety Pick after the car earned top scores of Good in most categories.

Behind the Wheel

Driver and passengers alike are greeted by a smartly designed, well-thought-out environment and quality materials when they step into the S5 Sportback’s relatively roomy cabin. Despite the roof being 1.6 inches lower than the A4 sedan that provides the base for this vehicle, it’s still possible for an adult male of average size to sit directly behind someone of the same dimensions and not complain about space. It’s not even claustrophobic, a happy circumstance helped by the standard-issue panoramic sunroof.

Getting from 0-to-60 mph takes place in 4.5 seconds, which is pretty zippy. This rapid acceleration is matched by decisive (yet never grabby) braking, taut (yet never harsh) resistance to body roll through the corners, plus tenacious traction and grip from the AWD setup. Between 1,500 rpm and 4,500 rpm is a wide sweet spot where the engine’s power delivery is exceptionally smooth and responsive.

For an appropriately sporty feel, the Quattro system sends 60% of torque to the rear wheels under normal conditions. If necessary, however, up to 85% can go to either axle within milliseconds. The optional (and highly recommended) sport rear differential can even split drive between the wheels on the back axle, enhancing the S5 Sportback’s already considerable cornering abilities.

In addition to such impressive driving talents, there’s still a premium-car suppleness over rough surfaces. This all adds up to an exceptionally confident feel throughout.

Now that electrical steering assistance is the norm, many manufacturers struggle to provide a natural feel. Audi does fairly well in this respect, but a little more tactility would be welcome. This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, however. The S5 Sportback is still an excellent driver’s machine. The great thing is that it can pull duty as a luxurious and practical status symbol all at the same time.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Audi S4 — This is another derivation from the same foundation as the S5 Sportback, only in a more conventional sedan form.

2019 BMW 440i Gran Coupe — None of the closest S5 Sportback competitors have hatchbacks, but the 4-door 440i Gran Coupe has plenty of other great ingredients.

2019 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 — Slightly more powerful, with 400 hp. However, the S5 Sportback is better in virtually every other respect.

2019 Mercedes-AMG C 43 — Available in coupe, convertible and sedan forms, these 385-hp C-Class variants are each superb in their own ways.

Used BMW M3 — It’s more than a car. The M3 sedan (or 2-door M4) is a perennial object of driving desire. Take a look at BMW’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program

Autotrader’s Advice

Quite often we’d recommend the mid-level version. But if buyers can afford the S5 Sportback Premium Plus, then they could probably stretch to the Prestige trim for the extra driver aids, which are never a bad idea. Otherwise, the new Premium trim is a great way to get into an S5 Sportback for the least amount of expenditure. If the 20-in wheels are tempting, test drive them to make sure they don’t affect the ride quality too much for your tastes. Find an Audi S5 Sportback for sale

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