New Audi A5 Coupe 2016 review
Can the elegant Audi A5 Coupe deliver the driving thrills to accompany its high class cabin?
Predictable but impressive; the Audi A5 carries over all of the successful traits of the A4 saloon and dresses them up in a sharper suit. The formula worked for the previous model and it will work again in this newcomer. We’d save some cash and opt for a more modest engine, but this (expensive) 3.0-litre TDI majors on refinement, pace and quality. Just don’t expect it to set your pulse racing.
The Audi A5 has been a better looking, sleekern and more athletic younger brother to the Audi A4 saloon since it launched in 2007. Now though, the second-generation model has arrived - based on the current A4. Does it still have the edge over its more practical brother, and can it compete with the likes of the BMW 4 Series and Mercedes C-Class Coupe?
Sharing a huge proportion of its DNA with the A4, it’s hardly surprising that the new A5 has followed a similar weight-loss regime. It’s 60kg lighter than the car it replaces, despite the longer wheelbase offering increased passenger space and a bigger boot. There’s a selection of new engines, which are only more fuel efficient (up to 22 per cent) but also (up to 17 per cent) more powerful.
Yet, however big the boot or however frugal the engine, the single most popular reason people will plump for the A5 over the A4 is image – even Audi itself will admit that. Like the BMW 4 Series, Lexus RC and Mercedes C-Class Coupe, the sleeker two-door offering has to be just as competent as its saloon counterpart, while also attracting more attention in the process.
The A5 certainly has more presence than the rather forgettable A4 – but to our eyes it doesn’t have the visual impact of the Lexus or Mercedes. Look at it dead on and it resembles a slightly flattened Q2 SUV, although in profile and from the rear the classic coupe silhouette is present and correct.
So, does being the sleeker and more athletic younger brother also mean the A5 is better to drive? Well, think of it like this: Wearing a three-piece suit to eat your evening meal isn’t going to make it taste any better, is it?
The A5 adopts the A4’s calm, refined and cultured nature and feels infinitely more at home plodding along at a leisurely pace than it does snaking its way up a mountain road. The 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel and eight-speed automatic gearbox in our test car is a good fit for the A5 – if a rather expensive one – and while prices are yet to be confirmed, you can expect this range-topping diesel to command a list price of more than £43,000. A more modest 187bhp 2.0-litre TDI (the big seller) should come in at around £36,000.
On the road, the V6 murmurs away under the bonnet, but a flex of your right foot cranks up the volume and delivers a graceful shove in the back. The engine is a marginally more powerful version of that found in the A4 so numbers are yet to be finalised. Expect 0-62mph in around 5.3 seconds, along with claimed economy of around 55mpg.
Like the A4, the steering can feel a little vague and despite the standard quattro four-wheel drive and sports differential on this high-end diesel model, the A5 majors on grip and composure rather than excitement.
The ride on 19-inch alloys and adaptive suspension may be of greater concern. Over pitted surfaces and uneven tarmac there’s a sense of composure and control to the body, but hit a pothole and violent thuds make their presence known. The heavy engine over the nose and large alloys are likely to be contributing factors, however, meaning the cheaper 2.0-litre diesel on sensible wheels could be the pick.
However, all models get the A4’s beautifully crafted and a sumptuous cabin. Cool aluminium, delicate leather and soft suede cover virtually all visible surfaces, while Audi’s MMI infotainment system remains as intuitive as ever.
Having half the number of doors as an A4 means there are sacrifices to be made when it comes to practicality. Access to the rear is rather tight due to the sloping roofline and limited travel of the front seats, but kneeroom is adequate for adults under 6ft. Unfortunately, anyone taller will feel their head brushing against the roof lining. The boot is 10 litres larger than the pervious A5’s at 465 litres, but that’s also 15 litres down over the A4. Still, it’s more than the BMW or Mercedes can swallow.