2018 Audi S5 Sportback Specifications and Reviews

Audi is currently launching cars that look so similar to their predecessors, it’s tough to tell that the new products are in fact, you know, new. The latest examples are the A5 and 2018 Audi S5 Sportbacks. Good luck telling them apart from the previous model generation, which was launched in 2009. But this minor issue is far less important for the U.S. market, for we will be getting the sleek five-door hatchbacks here for the first time.

It’s something of a no-brainer, this clever amalgamation of parts derived from an existing platform: Take the best-looking body and fit the strongest powertrain into it, and voilà: the new-to-the-U.S. Audi S5 Sportback. It combines the low, sleek lines of the new 2018 Audi S5 Sportback with the strong 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 that we recently enjoyed in the S4 sedan.

2018 audi s5 sportback

Obvious as its appeal may seem, the previous-generation 2018 Audi S5 Sportback was not offered in North America, a decision taken perhaps as an overreaction to the general impression that Americans don’t buy hatchbacks. This fastback variant on Audi’s sedans, though, doesn’t have any econocar overtones to its appearance, which is distinguished by wide, horizontal bars in the lower air intakes. At the rear, four exhaust tips and a handsome (if nonfunctional) lower diffuser panel are the S5 Sportback’s calling cards.

We’ve expressed reservations about the conservative redesigns of both the new A4 and A5, but the Sportback is nicely executed, a car that you’ll want to show off. And thanks to the special-order Coral Orange paint on the example we drove, being seen was all but unavoidable as we drove it around Neuburg an der Donau, west of Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany.

2018 audi s5 sportback

It’s something of a no-brainer, this clever amalgamation of parts derived from an existing platform: Take the best-looking body and fit the strongest powertrain into it, and voilà: the new-to-the-U.S. 2018 Audi S5 Sportback. It combines the low, sleek lines of the new A5 Sportback with the strong 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 that we recently enjoyed in the S4 sedan.

Obvious as its appeal may seem, the previous-generation A5/S5 Sportback was not offered in North America, a decision taken perhaps as an overreaction to the general impression that Americans don’t buy hatchbacks. This fastback variant on Audi’s sedans, though, doesn’t have any econocar overtones to its appearance, which is distinguished by wide, horizontal bars in the lower air intakes. At the rear, four exhaust tips and a handsome (if nonfunctional) lower diffuser panel are the S5 Sportback’s calling cards.

We’ve expressed reservations about the conservative redesigns of both the new A4 and A5, but the Sportback is nicely executed, a car that you’ll want to show off. And thanks to the special-order Coral Orange paint on the example we drove, being seen was all but unavoidable as we drove it around Neuburg an der Donau, west of Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany.

2018 audi s5 sportback

The S5 Sportback offers the extra cargo space of the 2018 A5 Sportback­—17 cubic feet with the rear seats up, which can be accessed through the yawning rear hatch. The available area expands to 46 cubes when the rear seats are folded. Otherwise, the interior is transferred, virtually intact, from the S4 sedan, including the firm, comfortable seats and the futuristic dashboard with two TFT screens. As to the displays, the unit in front of the driver can be configured to push the speedometer and tachometer into the corners in order to open up space for a large map.

2018 audi s5 sportback

2018 Audi S5 Sportback Engine

The DOHC 3.0-liter single-turbo V-6 makes 354 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque at a low 1370 rpm. Although it lacks the crisp-edged responsiveness of its predecessor’s supercharged six, any turbo lag is successfully mitigated by the eight-speed automatic. Nevertheless, we think the S5 Sportback would be better off with either of the previous S5’s transmissions­: the fantastic six-speed manual or the crisp seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (the latter is offered in the less powerful 2018 A5 Sportback). Alas, the manual gearbox can’t be had in the S5.

Audi says many of the popular driver-assistance systems—which serve as milestones on the way to autonomous driving—operate properly only if the gear selection is managed electronically. To which we say: Mazda manages to make adaptive cruise control work with a manual transmission, so it’s not impossible, just something the Germans are hesitant to do.

2018 audi s5 sportback

But as automatics go, this eight-speed is smooth and quick, and it works in near-perfect harmony with the turbo six, an engine that makes the right noises all the way up to its 6500-rpm redline. Audi claims that 62 mph comes up in a (likely conservative) 4.7 seconds and that the top speed is governed at 155 mph.

2018 audi s5 sportback

2018 Audi S5 Sportback Price

Beyond the standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system, our car also was fitted with Audi’s Sport Differential, a true, mechanical torque-vectoring unit that assists turn-in and cornering response. With its nimble handling, the S5 Sportback seems considerably smaller than it actually is, and the chassis might well serve as a benchmark in the segment; the Sportback’s track is slightly wider than that of the S4 sedan, for instance, making it feel even more planted to the asphalt. That’s all the more surprising since the engine sits forward of the front-axle line. But it has been successfully purged of nearly all understeering tendencies—especially in the sportiest Dynamic driving mode.

2018 audi s5 sportback

The 2018 Audi S5 Sportback will compete head-to-head with the BMW 440i xDrive Gran Coupe and the (somewhat coupelike) Mercedes-AMG C43 sedan. When it comes to market next spring, the S5 will cost around $56,000—virtually identical to the price of its S5 coupe sibling. America embraced the S7 four-door coupe well enough that Audi is ready to let us have this smaller, less expensive take on the same idea. We’re looking forward to finally running an S5 Sportback through our testing regimen to see how it actually measures up to the competition.

2018 Audi S5 Sportback Highs and Lows

Highs:

Coupe styling meets hatchback utility, strong turbo V-6, exquisite handling balance.

Lows:

We’re sad there’s no manual transmission.

2018 Audi S5 Sportback Specifications

VEHICLE TYPE:
front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback

ESTIMATED BASE PRICE:
$56,000

ENGINE TYPE:
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection

Displacement:

  • 183 cu in, 2995 cc
  • Power: 354 hp @ 6400 rpm
  • Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1370 rpm

TRANSMISSION:
8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode

DIMENSIONS:

  • Wheelbase: 111.2 in
  • Length: 187.1 in
  • Width: 72.6 in Height: 54.5 in
  • Cargo volume: 17 cu ft
  • Curb weight (C/D est): 3850 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):

  • Zero to 60 mph: 4.4 sec
  • Zero to 100 mph: 11.1 sec
  • Standing ¼-mile: 13.0 sec
  • Top speed: 155 mph

FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST):

EPA city/highway driving: 21/30 mpg

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