AUDI HAS whipped the covers off its low-roofed competitor to the Mercedes-Benz CLS today, revealing the brand new A5 Sportback in its entirety for the first time.
The third model in the A5 line-up, the A5 Sportback is also the most practical. There's four doors, a long rear hatch, more generous interior dimensions and a decently-sized boot.
Its roofline is 34mm lower than the A4 sedan's, but the Sportback's low-slung aesthetics won't harm its carrying ability - 480 litres of cargo space is available with the rear seats up, rising to 980 litres with the seats down.
With frameless doors, a high beltline and wide track, the A5 Sportback cuts an impressive figure.
The addition of two extra doors and a hatch hasn't disturbed the A5's svelte styling, and it even appears to be a better-proportioned car.
An S-Line package will also be available, and the extra splashes of chrome and subtle changes to the front bumper make the Sportback every bit as attractive as its two-doored stablemates.
Three petrol and three turbodiesel engines will be available in Europe from launch. For the petrol motors, a turbocharged 2.0 TFSI will come in 132kW and 155kW guises, while a naturally-aspirated 3.2 FSI V6 with 195kW will be the flagship motor.
The diesel line-up begins with a 2.0 TDI four-cylinder, which produces 125kW and consumes just 5.2l/100km on the European combined cycle thanks to a fuel-saving start-stop system.
A 2.7 TDI and 3.0 TDI complete the diesel A5 Sportback range, and generate 140kW and 176kW respectively.
A 1.8 TFSI model will launch in 2010, and become the entry-level model for the A5 range.
The 2.0 TDI and 2.7 TDI are front-wheel-drive only, while the rest of the A5 Sportback range use Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive drivetrain.
The 3.2 FSI and 3.0 TDI also come with a rear sport differential, which enhances traction and improves grip under acceleration.
The 2.0 TFSI, 2.0 TDI and 2.7 TDI are available with a six-speed manual transmission, while a CVT gearbox will appear as an option on these models as well.
A quick-shifting seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch gearbox is fitted to the quattro models as standard, and also feature a pair of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The A5 Sportback will enter European showrooms in September, priced from ?33,650 (AU$59,200).
The Sportback will be coming to Australian Audi dealerships in the first quarter of 2010 with the 3.2 FSI V6 likely being the first model available, however precise specifications and local pricing will be revealed closer to the car's Australian launch.