First Look: 2010 Audi A5 Sportback

#Audi, #A5

Do you lust after an Audi A5, but need something with some extra doors and space to handle the family? Good news: Audi has just the car for you.

Well, not quite. Such a car--the 2010 Audi A5 Sportback shown here--is indeed destined for production, but not the New World. Audi says the shapely fastback doesn't mesh well with its U.S. market plans, and as such, the car will essentially be forbidden fruit for the time being.

Although it looks quite similar to the new BMW 5-series Gran Turismo, the A5 Sportback is considerably smaller. At 15.45 feet long, the A5 is a foot shorter than the Bimmer, and is closer in size to an A4.

Those accustomed to riding in the back of an A4 will complain the rear seat is slightly smaller (it's been pulled forward in light of the rakish roof), but luggage space isn't compromised one iota. The Sportback offers 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space, but that number expands to 34.6 cubic feet--nearly two-thirds of that offered in the A4 Avant--with the rear seats down. Unlike the 5-series GT, access to the cargo bay is available only through a full-size hatch.

Although it's labeled as an A5, the Sportback's engine offerings have more in common with the A4 range. The 180-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 is the A5 Sportback's base engine, available in a front-wheel-drive model with either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT. A 211-hp version is also available, but only with Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The A4's direct-injection 3.2-liter V-6 serves as the premium gas engine, and is available only with Quattro and the S-tronic dual-clutch transmission.

As the A5 Sportback is tailor-made for Europe, a number of diesels are also part of the model mix. Volkswagen's ubiquitous 2.0-liter turbo-diesel I-4 serves as the base engine, while 2.7-liter and 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6s offer buyers additional power. To further boost fuel economy, both the 2.0-liter gasoline and diesel engines come with a start/stop system on models with manual transmissions.

Europeans should see the A5 Sportback in dealers this September, but we'll have to wait until 2010 to see a Sportback--a larger A7 model--arrive on our shores.

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