You might think ‘so what?’; if you’re likely to carry adults in the back, you can buy an A4. But an A4 also makes life much easier when you’re lifting bulky child seats in and out of the car, lifting kids in and out, or just leaning in to belt up a youngster. Plenty of people at this end of the executive car market have young families.
Look to the boot, however, and you may find what you consider to be worth the trade over a regular four-door.
The Sportback’s load bay offers only 480 litres, which is exactly what an A4 saloon provides, but the roof-hinged hatchback grants such good access that it makes the space seem far bigger than it otherwise might.
It’s certainly a big-enough boot: over a metre of load length is enough to put folded baby buggies in longways, but it’s not quite in the estate league.
The material quality of the cabin is high and the Virtual Cockpit’s sophistication still hugely impressive despite earlier familiarisation with it in the A4, A5 coupé, TT, Q7 and A3. But none of that need necessarily sell you this car in particular, of course.
The A5 Sportback gets a slightly more generous level of infotainment kit than the entry-level A4, specifically a bigger trip computer screen and a 10-speaker stereo that costs £275 extra on the latter car.
Move up to mid-level Sport trim and you get SD card-based sat-nav and an Audi Connect trial subscription.
Splash out on a top-spec S line car, however, and you’ll still need to find an extra £1100 for Audi’s Technology Pack to get its widescreen infotainment system, fingertip-input MMI rotary controller, full online connectivity and wireless smartphone charging. You’ll then pay more still if you want Virtual Cockpit (£250) or the Bang & Olufsen premium audio (£750).
Our test car had widescreen MMI Navigation Plus and Virtual Cockpit but not the top-level audio — and its sound system hardly floundered.
The systems aren’t cheap but they are brilliant once you’re familiar with them and know how to put the information you want exactly where you want it. The sat-nav takes free text input and is easy to use.