The addition of a frugal 163PS 2.0-litre TDI ultra diesel version of Audi's A5 coupe should help to keep this model's sales buoyant, thinks Jonathan Crouch
Ten Second Review
The biggest selling diesels amongst executive coupe models are the most affordable ones with 2.0-litre engines, BMW's 4 Series Coupe being a market favourite in 420d form. Audi's A5 coupe now offers buyers a wide choice of different 2.0 TDI derivatives, but arguably, none are more appealing than the 163PS TDI ultra variant we're looking at here
Audi's A5 coupe range has filled out nicely - and arguably, no variant makes more sense than the one we're going to look at here - the 2.0 TDI ultra. With this model, Audi debuts a diesel engine we're likely to see a lot more of in the next generation version of this car - and it's a very frugal one, capable of over 67mpg on the combined cycle and a supermini-like CO2 figure of just 109g/km. Of course, it still isn't cheap and depending on the variant you choose and the extras specified, you should still allow for a budget of just over £31,000 budget. Still, this car's most immediate rival, in this case BMW's 420d Coupe, is hardly chickenfeed to buy either. Audi has pitched its pricing slightly under BMW's too.
If you know your Audi engines, then you'll know that the A5 range has for some time offered a 2.0-litre diesel unit with 163PS, badged '2.0 TDIe'. The 2.0 TDI ultra unit we're looking at here isn't that powerplant. No, for this A5, we're talking of a completely new unit engineered for even leaner burning with super efficiency that has next to no impact on performance. It works with an efficient Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system that removes nitrogen oxides from the exhaust and ensures that the new models meet Euro 6 emission standards. Peak power arrives 1,200rpm earlier at 3,000rpm in the new ultra engine, while maximum torque increases from 380Nm to 400Nm and is available over a wider spread from 1,750rpm to 2,750rpm. Acceleration from rest to 62mph is measured at 8.3 seconds and the top speed is 140mph, so this won't feel like a penny-pincher's special. Otherwise, we're talking the usual A5 recipe which in more recent models like this one features a steering system re-designed to offer plenty of feel, though this still isn't the sharpest car in its class to throw around a series of twisty corners. There's no quattro 4WD option at this level.
Design and Build
This A5 Coupe still offers a convincing piece of penmanship, with an interesting mixture of straight lines, sweeping curves and convex surfaces gelling into a very good looking shape indeed. It's one that looks even better in the metal, the wavy beltline that runs from the headlights back to the taillights remaining the car's most distinctive feature. It's a practical shape too, a proper four-seater, with wide doors that make it easy to get in and out of the back. Once installed in the rear, you'll find more room than in equivalent BMW 4 Series and Mercedes C-Class Coupe rivals, though the sloping roofline means that those over six foot will want to bargain for a place upfront. The 455-litre boot is also the biggest in the class, though the boot aperture could be wider. Plus it can be extended to 829-litres by pushing forward the split-folding rear seats. And behind the wheel? Well, it's as beautifully finished as you'd expect an Audi to be, tailored like a sleek-fitting suit, everything being clear and elegant.
Market and Model
Audi asks just over £31,000 for this A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI ultra model, so exactly the same sticker price it was demanding for the previous, less efficient 2.0 TDIe 163PS variant this car replaces. Spec-wise, you'll find your car to be decently equipped, with features like 17-inch alloys, an 8-speaker MP3-compatible CD stereo with aux-in point and SD memory card reader, front foglights, a leather-covered steering wheel, a category 1 alarm and an automatic opening boot. Safety provision runs to all the expected airbags, anti-whiplash head restraints and isofix child seat fastenings, as well as electronic driver aids for braking, traction and stability control. Once nice feature that's standard is a 'break recommendation' system that monitors your driving reactions and will prompt you to stop for a restorative coffee if necessary.
Cost of Ownership
The 2.0 TDI ultra model's strong performance is underpinned by fuel economy that has improved usefully over that of the previous 2.0 TDI2 163PS unit. The combined cycle return improves from 64.2mpg to 67.3mpg, while the CO2 figure improves from 115 to 109g/km. This has been achieved thanks to a whole raft of high-efficiency engineering techniques, including across the range a more efficient electromechanical power steering set-up, an energy recuperation system and Start / Stop technology that cuts the engine when you don't need it, say when you're waiting at the lights or stuck in urban traffic. Choose the optional 'Audi drive select' set-up and there's the option of an 'efficiency' mode that'll focus all of the car's systems on driving eco-consciously.
As the first generation A5 Coupe enters the latter years of its production run, it's important that Audi doesn't allow it to fall off the pace when it comes to efficiency, especially given tough competition from cars like BMW's 4 Series and the latest generation Mercedes C-Class coupe. Hence the importance of this more frugal 2.0 TDI ultra derivative. A few years back, who could have predicted that a luxury coupe of this kind would ever be able to return over 67mpg in regular use and 109g/km of CO2? Otherwise, all the existing A5 virtues remain with this variant. The shape, which looked a little conservative when first it appeared, now seems uber-cool. Plus, as usual, this car is marketed cleverly, beautifully finished, well-equipped and will also work out comparatively affordable to run once the purchase price has been swallowed. If you're looking at an A5 Coupe, you can't ignore this version.