Hold on, an A5 Sportback? That means it's a five-door wagon, right?
Not quite. Confused? Well, it's neither an Avant nor a five-door Sportback as we know them. Rather, it's designed to be half wagon, half coupé. So this secret new A5 variant has a neat electrically powered tailgate that should combine the practicality of a five-door with the style of a coupe. So does that make it a coupate, or an estoupé? No, we're not sure either... As CAR Online's exclusive images show, Audi is clearly intent on carving out a niche of its own after Mercedes stole a march on the 'four door coupé' segment with the CLS, which will be facelifted next year before a replacement in 2011. BMW too has showcased a 7-series based CLS rival - our July issue cover star, the Concept CS. So, not content to simply follow the pack, Audi plans an aggressive two-product strategy to tackle the emerging practical coupe class, starting with the A5 Sportback you see here. Read on for the full story.
Sounds exciting. Tell me about the A5 Sportback then
The A5 Sportback will remain a four-seater, and Walter de'Silva and his artists have blessed it with sleek looks and back seats with more space than in the latest A5 coupé - great news for the style-conscious executive with normally sized friends and family. 'It combines hatchback practicality with one of the prettiest shapes ever conceived in Ingolstadt,' said a senior engineer at Audi. And we wouldn't disagree; the Sportback will retain the face of the current A5 while combining elements of the forthcoming A4 in the profile and an entirely new curvy rear end. Dynamic highlights will include a Quattro 4WD system with a 40/60 front/rear torque split for sportier handling, as well as the introduction of yet another acronym for your repertiore in QVT - quattro torque vectoring - which will continually monitor torque distribution to the wheels and act accordingly, promising enhanced agility and traction. Insiders predict three turbocharged direct-injection petrol four-pot engines delivering 150, 177 and 211bhp, as well as a 265bhp 3.2 V6. And yes, there will be an S5 Sportback too, set to be powered by the 354bhp 4.2 V8 currently found in the S5. You want more? Ok then, we're told there's a mile-munching RS5 is in the works, set to be unleashed with at least 450 angry horses stuffed under the bonnet. But for those of us who have to think about the dull realities of tax and emissions, a new 204bhp 2.0-litre diesel should partner the familiar 170bhp unit in the Sportback. As yet there's no word on the 2.7 V6 oil burner featuring, but it's a banker that the popular 240bhp 3.0 TDI will. Want to go cleaner? A Bluetec diesel is mooted, as well as a hybrid. Don't hold your breath for that though.
Ok, that's all good, but earlier you said it was a two-product strategy. What's the other one?
Perhaps you recall our A7 scoop in July? Well, that's the other four-door coupé on the cards at Ingolstadt. According to Audi, a big coupe based on the existing A8 platform would be too expensive, so the A7 will be based on the next A6, endowing it with space and relative affordability. It will be 'emphatically premium in appearance and content,' says our insider, but will sit below the A8 range as a more definitive rival to the CLS in terms of price, style and concept. Sounds like Audi is set to shatter any existing ideas of traditional niches then. You have been warned...