With four doors it's technically not a coupe, and that sloping roofline mean it's definitely not a sedan, but the Audi A5 Sportback proves there's a beautiful middle ground to be found between the two.

This isn't the first time Audi has trodden the middle ground between sedan and coupe to great effect. The original Sportback launched seven years ago, blazing a niche trail alongside cars like the Mercedes CLS and BMW X6. Rather than looking awkward, the hatchback and extra doors feel like they belong on the A5. Forget sterile teutonic design, this thing looks utterly gorgeous.

Audi has worked hard to make it more than a pretty face, though. Thanks to an intelligent material mix the latest Sportback is 85 kg (187 lb) lighter than its predecessor, and a redesigned five-link suspension system should make for planted body control when pushed. Adaptive dampers and steering are both optional, but if previous iterations of the steering system are anything to go by we'd be steering clear.

Backroad handling has never been Audi's biggest calling card. Rather, it's been a brand built on a reputation for beautiful, tactile interior design to make Mercedes and BMW look a bit low rent. In the A5 Sportback that tradition continues, with a sweeping dashboard and clean design to make the BMW 4 Series look positively ancient inside.

From behind the wheel, life should be relatively stress free for even the most inattentive drivers. Adaptive cruise control, along with automatic emergency braking, and camera-based speed sign recognition and the full range of parking assistance systems are all available.

Power comes from the same range of downsized petrol and diesel engines as the regular A5 Coupe. Outputs range from 140 kW (190 hp) to 210 kW (286 hp) in the regular range. There's even a bivalent natural gas/petrol model on offer, with 125 kW (170 hp) on tap. Meanwhile, the 260 kW (349 hp) turbocharged V6 in the new S5 Sportback punches it to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 4.7 seconds.

Pricing for the A5 Sportback kicks off at €37,800 (about US$42,570), while jumping up to the more powerful S5 Sportback pushes the price up considerably to €62,500. We'll be sure to check them out at the Paris Motor Show later this month.

Source: Audi

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