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Paris preview: 2017 Audi A5, S5 Sportback

by Ronan Glon

The A5 Sportback could be sold in the United States for the first time.

Audi has introduced the brand new 2017 A5 Sportback ahead of its official debut at the Paris Auto Show.

Few will be surprised to find out that the second generation A5 Sportback's design is more of a careful evolution than a revolution. It gets a sharper-looking front end that falls in line with Audi's current design language, but its overall silhouette carries over from the existing model with only minor tweaks.

The A5 Sportback receives roughly the same interior as the new 2017 A4 that bowed in Frankfurt about a year ago. That means the cabin is more luxurious and high-tech than before, and the passengers benefit from additional space. A dash-mounted screen runs the infotainment system, while a configurable digital instrument cluster -- virtual cockpit in Audi-speak -- is offered at an extra cost.

Under the sheet metal, the A5 Sportback is built on the same MLB Evo platform as the A4 and the Q7. Buyers in Europe have access to no less than five gasoline- and diesel-burning engines. Interestingly, they can also order a 170-horsepower 2.0-liter TFSI capable of running either on gasoline, natural gas, or the e-gas that Audi produces in-house.

The U.S.-spec model is exclusively offered with a 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine rated at 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a dual-clutch automatic transmission come standard, and all-wheel drive is an optional extra. The next model up in the lineup is the S5, which ups the ante with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine tuned to produce 354 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. The S5 hits 60 mph from a stop in 4.7 seconds in its fastest configuration.

The original A5 Sportback wasn't sold in the United States, but Audi has all but confirmed that the new model will be sold on our shores. It's expected to go on sale early next year, though pricing information hasn't been announced yet.

What's next? The A5/S5 coupe and Sportback models will quickly be joined by a convertible and by a range-topping variant called RS 5. Nothing is official yet, but it's not too far-fetched to speculate that we'll see the convertible in Los Angeles later this year, and the RS 5 next year in Geneva.

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