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2021 Audi A5 Sportback Overview
Arguably the most handsome model in the A5 family, the Audi A5 Sportback, slides into 2021 in the wake of last year’s refresh with some extra power, a new trim, and expanded features. That’s a hell of a long list of updates for a relatively new model, especially one that was already quite well sorted. The big news is the introduction of a new 12-volt mild-hybrid system that adds 13 horsepower to either engine option, and it should add some efficiency to boot.
Previously the A5 Sportback was exclusively powered by a single 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This year you have the option of 40 TFSI and 45 TSFI powerplants, both mated to a seven-speed automatic. The 40 TFSI engine was stolen from the A4 lineup and comes with 201 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque, while 45 TFSI engines deliver 261 hp and 273 lb-ft. That’s a 13-hp increase for both that’ll improve performance more than that scant number would indicate, as the hybrid system will help flatten the power curve to deliver more predictable power, especially down low in the rev range.
The first application of this new system is in the new base trim: the A5 Sportback 40 TFSI Quattro. This trim level enjoys newly standard wireless Apple CarPlay as well as lane-departure warning and auto toll-pay to join impressive features like three-zone auto climate control, leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency brake.
Mid-level Premium Plus trims get new adaptive cruise control, a top-down, surround-view camera, and lane-keeping assist to go along with the blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic, wireless charging, front and rear parking sensors, and auto-dimming, power-folding mirrors. But the big reason to jump up to the Premium Plus trim is Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital display. It’s a gorgeous, configurable driver information center that transforms the driving experience. Top-tier Prestige trim gets less attention this year, though heated rear seats are now standard.
Otherwise, things are staying mostly the same for the A5 Sportback, and that’s a good thing. Audi’s MMI infotainment system is one of the most approachable, intuitive, quick, and clean systems out there, and the traditional, no-nonsense, almost Spartan Audi interior design means you’re getting an attractive interior that’ll stand the test of time. Room is plentiful both front and back, though the fastback roofline in the Sportback means there’s slightly less headroom than in the traditional A5 sedan. The tradeoff comes in the form of trunk space. While the A5 sedan offers a slightly cramped 10.9 cubic feet, the Sportback boasts a cavernous 21.8 and a much more attractive profile.
Other changes for 2021 include additions to the base trim’s Convenience package, which now includes a heated steering wheel and parking sensors front and rear. The Black Optic package for the mid-range Premium Plus trim now boasts 19-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, and car-shoppers who pay for this package can now opt for a black roof.
The A5 was already one of the best deals in the compact executive category, and the Sportback was already the best configuration among the A5 options. This year’s changes only underscore that value. While we don’t know the long-term ramifications of the new mild-hybrid system, on paper this looks like a big quality of life improvement that will be nearly invisible.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.
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