"Hans," one Audi employee says to another, "BMW is beating the schnitzel out of us with useless niche products. Ve must catch up! Mach schnell!" At least, that's sorta how I see the conversation that lead to the creation of the A5 Sportback going. What other explanation is there for such meaningless niche-stuffing drivel? What Audi claims to have done here is taken an A5 coupe, which is a gorgeous car by most people's definition, and simply "added two door and a hatchback." At least they're not trying to call it a C0upe any more? What they've really done, though, is created the answer to a question that approximately 0 people were asking. Still, the A5 Sportback is not a car entirely without merit. Even though it's almost exactly like the BMW 5-series Gran Turismo, only with worse engine choices. For one thing, you want engine choices? The A5 Sportback will be launching (in September) with six engine choices. Ordering an Audi these days is like eating at a real Chinese restaurant - so many options, such tiny print, all very similar... Anyway, it'll be a 50/50 split between gas and diesel engines for the A5 Sportback. On the bottom end are a trio of inline fours - a 2.0L turbodiesel I4 with 170bhp, an electronic start/stop system, and 45.2 US MPG. There are also two iterations of the VW-corporate 2.0L TFSI turbo I4 gas motor, with either 180bhp (why?) or 211bhp (why not?). On the other end, there's a pair of V6 turbodiesels, a 2.7L V6 with 190bhp or a 3.0L with 240bhp and standard DSG. For now, the most powerful engine in the A5 Sportback will be the (relatively underwhelming) 3.2L gas V6, a direct-injection unit with a reasonable 265bhp. Hilariously enough, Audi says there are three more engine options joining the A5 Sportback line in 2010. My guess? The "3.0T" supercharged 3.0L gas V6 that sees duty in the S4, A6, etc would be one of them. Maybe a V8? Why bother? Why does Audi have to give you so many engine options that are so similar in the first place? So what's the point, exactly? Well, Audi says the Sportback combines the best of three worlds - the svelte good looks of the A5 Coupe, the comfort of a sedan, and the practicality of a hatchback/wagon. Despite existing in a market "no man's land", there's a certain amount of sense to the A5 Sportback. Dimensions wise, it's 36mm lower to the ground than the A4 it's so closely related to. To emphasize the "coupe" soul in this clear-not-a-coupe car, Audi's pushed all four wheels to the corners for a mean stance, and used tricks like frame less windows and a smooth, flowing Kamm tail to give it an unusually aggressive appearance for what is actually a five-door hatchback. I have to say, when it comes to making a family hatchback look not like a family hatchback, the A5 Sportback succeeds where it's direct competitor, the BMW 5-series Gran Turismo, fails. It's pretty useful, too. With the rear seats up, there's 17 ft² of cargo space, and with them folded, there's a fairly massive 34.6 ft² for all your accoutrement. And really, that's about all there is to it. The A5 Sportback won't be making the trip across the Atlantic to the USA, at least for now. Sales have already started, and deliveries will begin in September. Pricing for the A5 Sportback starts at a rather steep €33,650.
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