Audi A5 Sportback. Behind the scenes at crankandpiston

What is required behind the scenes of a crankandpiston photoshoot? Take a drive with us in the Audi A5 Sportback to find out…

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All too often the vehicles behind the scenes – the camera cars and the digital luggers – fall between the cracks and rarely receive their due credit.

Take our $70K-ish twin test for instance between the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and the BMW 435i M-Sport, the teaser vid for which you can find HERE and the full story of which you can read HERE. Behind the camera though was a 2014MY Audi A5 Sportback 3.0 that, had it arrived with two fewer doors, would likely have made its way into the test. But why are we so keen to foreground the Audi’s virtues on this occasion, I hear you ask? Let’s dive in for a closer look.

First off, when you’re dealing with one of America’s favourite muscle cars and one of Europe’s leading sports coupes, your camera car needs some grunt. Tick one on our checklist courtesy of the Audi’s 3.0-litre V6, which chucks out 245hp. Linear acceleration allows the Audi to keep pace with its spot lit co-stars, whilst Smooth rather than swift changes through Audi’s established seven-speed S Tronic transmission allows said acceleration to kiss the redline unabated and for all 245 stallions to be sent to the road via the Quattro system. But let’s not kid ourselves that the A5 Sportback is some kind of honing machine: pit our three models against each other on the quarter mile, and that 50+hp deficit and a surprising lack of energy off the line, and you’ll find the Audi brings a knife to a gun fight. Looking for aggression and ‘excitement’ (let’s be honest) in the Sportback would be missing the point of both the model itself and its role here today.

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With a camera car, we’re looking for a smooth ride, lashings of comfort and practicality, and easy manoeuvrability, which brings us nicely onto the interior and that S-Line moniker.

The sportiness of the ‘S-Line’ additions on the elegantly designed exterior (which includes more dynamically designed front bumper, rear diffuser and side skirts) take a back seat in the cabin, the focus of which is on refinement rather than sport. Snazzy black stitching, a leather-embossed gear-lever and S-Line emblems across the headrests and new aluminium trim appear on the spec list alongside the multi-function steering wheel and the split folding rear seats: when you have a photographer hanging out of the car, inches from the tarmac looking for ‘that shot’, it helps if he has room to work with. And while the rear seats may not offer quite the legroom we’d expected (or indeed the ease of getting in or out, thanks to that elegant but slightly impractical sloping roof), the enormous boot space makes up for this. As well as swallowing a dozen camera bags, tripods, sliders and caffeine supplies…

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…it also makes a handy spot for our deputy editor to rest his semi-weary head when he thinks the cameras aren’t looking.

All this proves irrelevant however if the camera car cannot massage the bumps out of the tarmac and, ultimately, the images being taken. Given that the Audi‘s S-Line package brings with it stiffer, sportier suspension and larger 18-inch wheels, this had been a concern going into the test. As was the optional five-way drive select system (including the personalised ‘Individual’ function), which allows us to change the power steering boost, accelerator characteristic, shift points of the automatic transmission and automatic air conditioning. Potentially awesome for taking a thrash through the mountains, but would this injected dose of ‘S’portiness ultimately ruin our shots?

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Turns out we have nothing to worry about. Audi’s electronic power steering system adapts itself to the speed of the car, feeding weight into and out of the front axle to make manoeuvrability at low speeds a doddle. Though feel for the front end is significantly lacking as a result, it does make three-point turning the A5 Sportback a synch when the inevitable re-shoots are required: admittedly the new sports suspension has put a little too much stiffness into the ride, and whilst this had only select effect during the shoot itself, the journey too and from the location was perhaps a little more tiring than we had expected.

Niggles one and all, however. Whilst the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and the BMW 435i M-Sport take the plaudits from the day, the finished product still requires one unsung hero to make the difference and do the donkey work. In this instance though, the unsung Audi A5 Sportback deserves its time in the spotlight.


Categories: Road


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