Audi A5 review
Sleek Audi A5 Coupe is stylish and spacious alternative to BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class Coupe
The Audi A5 Coupe is a stylish looking car, and it's even better to drive. Based on the same chassis as the Audi A4 saloon all versions prove quiet and refined at cruising speed. Inside, the A5 continues Audi's typical style and desirability, while offering a comfortable driving position. The steering and manual gearshift feel light to the touch and there is an optional semi-automatic twin-clutch gearbox, which offers lightning fast changes and improved fuel economy. There's a whole host of fast but frugal diesels, and an impressive set of capable petrol engines - the flagship RS5 being a worthy rival to the established BMW M3. One thing Audi has over BMW is its trademark quattro four-wheel drive system, which delivers strong grip in all conditions. In 2012 a facelifted model was introduced with eye-catching LED running lights, a sleeker front-end profile and a range of tweaked petrol and diesel engines including a new 1.8-litre petrol turbo entry-level model.
Our choice: Audi A5 3.0 TDI quattro S line
Classy, upmarket, stylish – there are no shortage of words to describe the appeal of the Audi A5 Coupe. Top-spec S line models get lower suspension and a subtle bodykit, while the S5 and RS5 performance models have wider wheelarches and sills for a more aggressive look. All cars come with alloy wheels and double exhausts, although entry-level cars look a little lost on standard 17-inch wheels - it's certainly worth upgrading to SE or S line spec for the added visual appeal. Top spec cars look great, with LED lights and privacy glass while expensive Black Edition cars get a set of desirable 19-inch wheels. Inside the driver-focused interior feels well made and looks great with a multi-functional steering wheel and chrome highlights on key controls.
The Audi A5 Coupe is supposed to be a sporty car but it trails some way behind the BMW 3 Series in terms of pure driver enjoyment. That said, there's a big difference between entry level diesel cars and top of the range S5 and RS5 versions. In cheaper cars, the steering and gearshift are light and lacking in feel, while top spec models offer a more involving drive. Quattro four-wheel-drive makes flagship cars sure footed in the wet, while the straight line performance of the beefy petrol motors and top-spec diesels is excellent. However sportier versions also suffer from a very firm ride - with bumps and potholes sending shudders through the wheel.
Altohugh the Audi A5 hasn't been tested by Euro NCAP, it is very well made, and features front, passenger and curtain airbags. The current A4 and A6 both managed top scores in the crash tests, so there is no reason to think the Coupe would be any different as it uses the same chassis platform and crash structures. Reliability is reckoned to be first rate too, with owners reporting no major faults in our most recent Driver Power survey. However Audi has slipped down our dealer rankings recently - finishing behind rival Mercedes-Benz.
At 455 litres, the boot is bigger than both the Mercedes C-Class Coupe and BMW 3 Series, while the rear seats fold to create an even more practical load area of 829 litres. Up front the driving position is comfortable and there's plenty of adjustment in the seats. However, headroom and legroom in the rear compartment is quite cramped and there are only two seatbelts, making the A5 Coupe a strict four-seater so the five seat A5 Sportback is the model to go for if practicality is a high priority.
Predictably, the Audi's four TDI diesels offer the best fuel economy. The 2.0-litre TDIe manages the best performance at the pumps, but the standard 2.0-litre TDI is faster and similarly priced. The flagship 3.0-litre TDI diesels are most impressive, though - the more powerful of which can do 49.6mpg and 0-60mph in just 5.8 seconds. A word of warning for company car drivers, choosing quattro four-wheel drive does cause CO2 emissions to rise, increasing tax liabilities. The S5 and RS5 are best avoided unless you've got seriously deep pockets - it manages just 26mpg and will have an undoubtedly healthy appetite for tyres when driven hard.