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Audi A5 S Line 2.0 TDI

Sharp styling and excellent build mark out the German coupe

Is the A5 an Audi with an identity crisis? Without an establishedbloodline, the coupé occupies the middle ground between the A4 and A6saloons, yet doesn’t have the looks to establish itself as a standalonemodel.

That hasn’t stopped it from carving its own niche in themarket, though. Accurate creases and sharp lines give the A5 abusiness-like appearance, but it can’t match the character of theRenault. However, few can deny its cutting-edge desirability. Designershave been similarly cautious inside the cabin.

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The dash is amasterclass in high-quality precision, but it offers very little todifferentiate itself from the A4 saloon. In fact, only when you glanceover your shoulder at the sloping rear are you reminded that you’re notdriving a conventional four-door.

Like the Laguna, the A5 doesn’tdemand too great a practicality compromise. The rear seats of the Audiare more suited to carrying children than tall adults, but both carsare credible four-seaters. It’s the A5 that edges into the lead when itcomes to carrying luggage, with a 455-litre boot, bettering itstwo-door rival by 32 litres.

The German model does lose out inthe capacity stakes elsewhere, though. In this price bracket buyerswanting a diesel have to make do with Audi’s familiar 2.0-litrefour-cylinder TDI – even in basic trim the 2.7-litre powerplant weighsin at £31,540, while the smooth 3.0-litre costs £33,255. Don’t writethe entry-level unit off just yet, though.

Audi’s engineershave spent plenty of time improving the refinement of theirlong-serving 2.0-litre diesel engine. Our noise meter confirmed thatthe A5 is louder than the Renault at idle, but once up to speed, theTDI unit is smooth and surprisingly quiet. The six-speed manual box hasa pleasing, short-throw shift, too.

There’s no disguising thefact that the Audi is much slower than its rival. In dry conditions,the heavy quattro 4x4 system offered no advantage in accelerating offthe line, leading to a pedestrian 0-60mph time of 9.1 seconds. Wherethe all-wheel-drive system comes into its own is when you tacklehigh-speed corners with gusto.

The A5 offers greater composure,reacting confidently to emergency lane changes and hard braking. It’snot perfect, however. The steering feels over-assisted and it doesn’tturn into corners as keenly as the hi-tech, four-wheel-steered Renault.

Pricedat £31,805 in S line trim, this A5 is no bargain. What’s more, to getthe look and luxury of our test car, you’ll need to fork out £37,310!An ice-cool image helps to justify the expense, but does the Audi leaveyou feeling like you’ve got value for money?

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Chart position: 1WHY: It has a great badge and stylish looks, but is the Audi really worth the extra money?

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