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Audi Sportback unveiled at Detroit auto show 2009

By Tim Pollard

Motor Shows

12 January 2009 04:14

Audi dropped some strong hints about two forthcoming models with its new Sportback concept car. The show car hogged the limelight at the Detroit auto show 2009 – and the Audi group chairman Rupert Stadler confirmed to CAR Online that it previewed a Sportback verison of the A5 coupe.

While Avant signifies, for Audi, the estate breed, Sportback indicates a more practical hatchback/fastback model. Although there's only one Sportback today – the five-door A3 Sportback – Stadler indicated that a whole family of Sportbacks was likely in the near future.

I thought Audi's Detroit concept was going to be an A7 preview...

The production A5 Sportback is likely to be launched later in 2009, taking cues from this Sportback concept. But see the car in the metal, and there's little doubting the Sportback is big – more A6 than A4 – and CAR understands this means only one thing: that this show car also foreshadows the new A7 coupe.

The A7 is aimed at taking Audi into the heartland owned today by the Mercedes CLS. The dimensions of the Sportback confirm this: it's a long 4950mm long, 1930mm wide and a low-slung 1400mm high.

What's powering this new Sportback/A7/A5 hatch?

Diesel, of course. Audi is giving its dervs a big push Stateside right now. The Sportback gets the 3.0-litre TDI V6 and Audi made great play that it meets the forthcoming EU6 criteria not in force until 2014. It averages an impressive 48mpg (Imperial).

The Sportback is an intriguing extension of the Audi brand. The five-door liftback styling opens up a new dimension of practicality for Audi's A5, in essence a slightly shrunken version of the new A7. Despite those low-slung looks, the boot swallows a solid 500 litres of stuff.

In any doubt Audi will build this car? Check out the following, remarkably precise figures: the concept weighs in at 1800kg, has a drag coefficient of 0.30, tops 152mph and sprints to 62mph in less than seven seconds. Hardly the level of precision you'd expect from a cloud-cuckoo-land concept car...