June Neary on Audi's second generation A5 Coupe
Will It Suit Me?
Looks can lie. Audi's second generation A5 Coupe might not appear to be very different from its predecessor but it's been fundamentally re-designed in almost every way. The old car offered class and luxury: this one builds on that with greater efficiency and driver appeal. What's not to like? I decided to try one.
Well, it's a Coupe isn't it? How practical can it be? Surprisingly so in this case. Take the 465-litre boot, which is class-leadingly large and 10-litre bigger than the trunk of the previous model. As for the rear seats, well this is a coupe, so your expectations won't be great but by the standards of the class, it's really quite spacious in the back. Lumping child seats into the back was certainly a lot easier than I've found with other coupe models. I was also pleased to find the plastics and seat materials seemed to be hard-wearing and should stand the test of chocolate staining and grubby fingers. Some of my friends (and some of my colleagues) felt that the styling of the original A5 was rather bland, though I have to say that personally, it rather grew on me. But Audi clearly wasn't satisfied and has changed quite a lot. Features like the previous model's wave-shaped shoulder line are carried over but the whole effect is now sharper and more modern, featuring a sculpted Singleframe grille that's significantly flatter and wider than in the previous model. There's a long bonnet, short overhangs and, most significantly, a stretched wheelbase that creates more room inside. And as before, build quality seems peerless, with beautifully damped controls and top-drawer materials used throughout.
Behind the Wheel
The A5's engine line-up always looked as if it could do with a bit of sorting out, so Audi has done just that. The units on offer pretty much reflect the ones you get in the A4 line-up, with the exception of the fact that you can't get the 150PS 2.0 TDI motor. For petrol people, the brand's latest 2.0 TFSI powerplant is provided in 190PS guise with 2WD and the choice of 6-speed manual or 7-speed S tronic auto transmission; or 252PS, in which guise this unit can only be ordered with an S tronic gearbox and quattro 4WD. If, like many A5 Coupe buyers, you want a diesel, you'll probably want the 2.0 TDI 190PS unit, offered with either a manual or an S tronic auto 'box, plus if you go for the auto, there's a quattro option if you want it. If you need a diesel with more poke, there's a 218PS six cylinder 3.0 TDI derivative, which only comes in quattro guise with S tronic transmission. At the top of the range, the sporting S5 quattro variant gets a newly developed 3.0 TFSI turbo V6 powerplant with 354PS, which is 21PS more than the engine in the previous model. And on the move? Well my road test colleagues reckon that this A5's front-driven (or 4WD-driven) layout will never offer the handling purity that you'd get in a rival rear wheel drive BMW 4 Series Coupe. To be frank, I don't care very much about that - and I don't think that many potential buyers will either. For the record, Audi reckons that the handling is a little sharper this time round (thanks mainly to the tauter chassis) but the company's main claim is that ride quality is unsurpassed in the segment. The extent to which this will be true for you will depend on your choice between the three different suspension configurations on offer, two of them passive and one featuring adaptive damping.
Value For Money
For upwards of £31,000, I expected a decent spec list - and this time, wasn't disappointed. Among the features included are xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights, LED interior lights, the Audi 'MMI radio plus' with a 7-inch MMI colour display, Bluetooth, a USB charging function, a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, the Audi drive select dynamic handling system and Audi 'pre sense city' autonomous braking. Audi is particularly proud of its media connectivity, specifically the 'connect' system that can link to the Internet via the ultrafast LTE network. With the standard Audi smartphone interface, Apple Car Play and Android Auto bring the familiar smartphone environment to the car, if desired. The optional Audiphonebox with wireless charging in the centre armrest uses near-field coupling to link smartphones wirelessly to the vehicle's antenna. Alternatives to the Coupe bodystyle featured here are the A5 Cabriolet and the A5 Sportback, which has five-door and lots of extra practicality. Audi prices might seem to be expensive (and they are) but you have to take resale values into account. If there's one thing you can take as read with Audi coupes, it's a strong residual value. Great news if you're looking to buy one or lease a car for, say, three years but possibly not what you'd want to hear if you were holding out for a bargain on a low mileage example. Running costs should be affordable, particularly if you opt for one of the diesels. The 60kg weight saving achieved with this MK2 model plays a big part in the claimed 22% efficiency savings achieved this time round, despite the increases in power delivered beneath the bonnet. In fact, the body is the lightest in the competitive field thanks to an intelligent mix of materials and lightweight design. It also helps that with a drag coefficient of 0.25, the A5 Coupe is the segment leader with respect to aerodynamics. As a result, a base diesel 'ultra' variant is able to deliver 70.6mpg on the combined cycle and 105g/km of CO2.
Could I Live With One?
Despite the supposedly sharper handling, 'laid back' was still the phrase that sprang to mind after a few days with this Audi. It's a classy coupe - and a car I would love to live with.