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Audi A5 Coupe

Understated coupe can’t match Mercedes for style, but its more powerful engine could turn the tables

As with a lot of models in Audi’s range, the entry-level A5 is the pick of the line-up. It looks every bit as good as the more expensive versions, but should cost you much less to run. Better still, the muscular 1.8-litre petrol engine punches above its weight for performance, yet has diesel-like running costs. An upmarket and spacious cabin seals the win.

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Over the past four decades, Audi has developed a reputation for desirable and affordable four-seater coupes. The latest in this long line is the recently revised A5, which offers a compelling blend of sleek design, an upmarket cabin and practicality.

Better still, when fitted with the entry-level 1.8-litre TFSI petrol engine, it aims to deliver catwalk style at a reasonable price. Yet despite a recent facelift, the A5 can’t quite match the Mercedes for head-turning kerb appeal.

New LED headlamps and tail-lights help freshen up the looks, while our S line test car benefits from standard 18-inch alloys, but the rakish two-door car still looks too similar to more humble Audi models, such as the A4 and A6.

Things are better inside, where the sleek wraparound dashboard, stylish dials and class-leading quality give the A5 an edge over the C-Class. All the materials look and feel great, while the list of standard kit includes soft leather trim, Bluetooth and three-zone climate control.

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There’s plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment, so it’s easy to get comfortable, while the heavily bolstered front sports seats are very supportive. The Audi is a strict four-seater, like the Mercedes, but those in the back get slightly more headroom.

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There are also deep door bins, a large centre console cubby and numerous cup-holders, while the boot will swallow a healthy 455 litres of luggage. And when you lower the standard split/fold rear seat, capacity rises to a useful 829 litres.

Buyers interested in pace rather than space won’t be disappointed by the A5, which put in a dominant display at the track. Thanks to a healthy 320Nm of torque (70Nm more than the C-Class), the Audi did the 0-60mph sprint in eight seconds flat – over a second quicker than its rival.

In the real world, the advantage is even greater, as the A5’s punchier engine feels more eager in-gear, allowing you to overtake traffic with confidence and power up hills that the Mercedes struggles with.

Yet the Audi is less refined than the C180, letting in more wind, road and engine noise. And while the ride isn’t as rock-hard as in previous S line models, the A5 can’t iron out bumps as effectively as the Mercedes.

The trade-off for stiffer suspension is good body control on a twisting back road, which combines with lots of grip and precise steering to give surprisingly agile handling. The A5 doesn’t flow through corners as effortlessly as the C-Class and its controls feel a bit numb, but its composed handling inspires confidence.

Beyond its glamorous image, the £30,565 Audi is a solid financial choice. It undercuts the Mercedes, and even if you add the twin-clutch DSG gearbox, you’ll still spend £545 less. On top of that, 134g/km emissions mean it’s cheaper to tax, while solid residuals leave you with more cash when you sell. On this evidence, the A5 will be tough to beat.

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