Auto Review

Audi A5 Has Always Been Classy, Now It’s Effortlessly Classy

  • quick
  • Model spec: Audi A5, Sport Ultra, Automatic
  • Price: £42000
  • Engine: 2.0-Litre, 4-cyl TDi
  • Max Speed: 146
  • facts
  • 0-60: 7.7 seconds
  • BHP/Torque: 190 / 400
  • Economy: 62mpg combined
  • C02: 105g/km
  • Tax: 140/year

Of all the vehicles Audi offers right now, and they offer a lot, the A5 Coupe is quite possibly my favorite, I would choose it over the TT and the R8 although admittedly the latter would be a tough call. The A5 was designed by famed auto designer Walter De Silva, former Head of Design of the VW group, it happens to be his favorite too. The collective opinion (among the motoring hack fraternity) is that the A5 looks plain and yes they are correct, but it’s that simplicity that makes it work so well.

It is that simplicity that served the A5 graciously for 9 years and it only required a plethora of periodic facelifts and updates in between. After 9 years Audi made ready an all new, second generation for 2016. The design changes are mildly evolutionary with the key difference being that the A5 is now built on a larger and lighter platform, that in turn means the A5 is now slightly longer and wider than the first generation.

The interior is impeccably well designed, presented and built more premium luxury than luxurious, luxurious would be defined as a full leather interior including door sides and dash. Nevertheless, it doesn’t feel or look that far off from luxurious.

The A5 is available in more ‘flavours’ than a Hagen Das tub of ice cream, it comes in three bodystyles alone the coupe, cabriolet and Sportback (five doors). The new generation A5 also ushers in a new generation of more efficient engines and the latest on-board digital technology/gadgets.

Trim levels are simple enough SE, Sport and S-line, Black Editions and fuel efficient Ultra specs. And of course, there is the range topping performance variant, the 345bhp S5 and much faster 444bhp RS5 both of which are locked and loaded with AWD.

Most A5 buyers will opt for the 4-cylinder, 2.0-litre diesel which is available in two power derivatives 190bhp and 218bhp (dependent on trim grade). The petrol range (excluding the performance models) consists of a 2.0-litre TFSi again this is also available in two power derivatives 190bhp and 252bhp (dependent on trim grade).

Also available is the V6 TDI which has a max output of 218bhp, this would be my pick of the diesel range because that V6 TDI offers a lot more flexibility in the delivery of power from the lower to mid rev range and is also very quiet, perfect for GT cruising.

If you still prefer a good ol’ manual transmission then you will be pleased to know Audi hasn’t fazed out the 6-speed shifter which is standard for entry level models while the 8-speed dual-clutch transmission is dependent on trim or optional for lower spec models.

OK so that’s all very well you have got a bit of a low down on the A5 but what is it like to drive. Rather good, better than good actually. First of all, you notice how light the next generation platform feels it makes the first generation feel like a tank in comparison.

The A5 Ultra on test featured the 190bhp / 400Nm torque spec 2.0-Litre TDi, again the new generation of diesels not only feel lighter they also feel smoother, have less vibration under acceleration and sound less intrusive especially at motorway (freeway) cruising speeds.

The 2.0-Litre TDi delivers power with force, it’s fast under acceleration which equates to a 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds. Mated to the S-tronic gearbox (dual-clutch) and the speed is real and relentless. Conversely, the A5 is able to return upto 62mpg if not driven like a crack-head on Methamphetamine.

The dual-clutch transmission does feel lethargic at crawl speed, however, you can go full manual mode courtesy of the steering mounted paddle shifts to deter some of this action.

Some say that an automatic less involving than a stick-shift but I actually prefer paddle shifts and having the option of switching to full auto mode allows for a degree of flexibility.

The ride and handling is perhaps the biggest asset of this new generation A5. The low-speed ride is an indication of the A5’s overall abilities, you immediately notice how light how well balanced the A5 is, it rolls into corners crisply.

The new A5’s steering is also quite sharp on turn in, it’s also a good balance of being not too light and not too heavy. At speed, the steering doesn’t have too much feel,  a slight lack of involvement, a common affliction with new generation cars that have adopted an electronic/mechanical steering setup over a pure hydraulic system.

But overall the ride and handling elevate the A5 into GT territory, an epic cruiser that you could drive all day without getting fatigued. The standard suspension offers an excellent blend of comfort and performance, while the firm ride soaks up bumps and undulations with ease.

Most unexpectedly the A5 handles with affirmation, you can throw it into a corner and it confidently dances to the next corner/apex there is an athleticism the belies the GT nature of the car. Minimal body roll, excellent change of direction is sports car territory but again the steering doesn’t offer much feel.

Like most Audi’s the A5 is equipped with Audi Drive Select, a 5 mode setting that alters the gear shift, steering algorithms, and engine mapping settings.  All I need to say is leave in Dynamic mode because everything is sharper, snappier.

Although when cruising on a Motorway (freeway) I switched it back to Eco mode not necessarily to save fuel but to prevent the transmission from downshifting unnecessarily early.

The A5 in standard SE spec is well equipped with essentials, 17-inch alloys, Infotainment system, Parking system LED daytime running lights, smartphone integration with wirelss charging, heated front seats air-con, electric windows etc.

Sport Ultra trim adds Satnav, electrically adjustable sports seats, the A5 on test was loaded with extra kit. The leather/Alcantara trim option costs £350, Audi virtual cockpit £250 extra (a must have bargain) although the driver assistance was an extra £1,250 and the Technology Pack a further £1,100.

Audi will always make you pay for optional extras, it’s good and very profitable business. The A5 on test retails for £35k, optional extras boosted the overall cost to £42k.

The A5 has a decent sized boot you can easily fit two maybe three suitcases in load space. The rear seats do fold flat, but the horizontal strut behind makes loading and unloading larger items slightly tricky.

Space up front is generous, rear seat seats are kid friendly only or generous extra storage space.Whatever spec, model or engine option you go for isn’t going to be cheap the base level A5 starts at £32k, before options.

But the A5 is a classy coupe as much as it is classy to look at, it offers a blend of comfort and agility that can outwit rivals and even more expensive brands.

 

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