The original Audi A5 was launched 10 years ago at both the Geneva and Melbourne Motor shows. Over time we have seen coupé, cabriolet and sportback style versions. It has always been quite a head-turner, even head designer Walter de Silva agreeing he had created his most beautiful car. Since then 13,000 odd examples have been shipped to Australians around the country, such as the 1997 release of the TT – it certainly created a stir design-wise. Fast forward to now and EFTM’s Chris Bowen has been given the chance to pilot four new A5 Coupé models, a trip that took in the best Tasmania’s Great Eastern Drive has to offer.
The A5 coupé is brand spanking new, from the ground up, a clean-sheet design and all of them are sitting before me at Hobart Airport for a trip covering several legs on some of Australia’s best roads. It’s one of those cars you spend ages just looking at, touching and generally just perving at from all angles. While still an A5 Coupé at first glance, you soon start to notice the bonnet power bulge, new creases and angles, a flatter grill, higher mounted and thinner tail lights and just generally an amazing coordination of precise design elements. It has evolved into what looks like a masterpiece but remains sharp, and aggressive.
As with the Q7, Audi has stepped up and created an even more attractive cabin where quality comes first, second and third. The car itself is no wider than the previous model but the cabin is actually wider, the ventilation strip that streaks across the dashboard helps with the sense of space as do the quality inlays. Real carbon fibre trim and sumptuous leather add further dashes of luxury, in fact everything you touch is again typically Audi. I believe current generation Audis are the class leader in this area, leaving BMW dead in the water and just pipping Mercedes-Benz.
While there’s more leg-room for the rear two seats, 23mm in fact, even Audi admits owners will rarely force two people back there. While a couple of tall people could exist there for a short time it’s probably best served for your boy-racer son who likes a bit of a kick on the way to a family event. The seats are just about redundant in almost a Ford Mustang kind of way.
Thankfully you get decent boot, at 465 litres it’s the biggest in class. It’s capable of swallowing a 55’’ Samsung TV box and all, so said an Audi product planner. So despite some shortcomings overall the cabin is one heck of a place to be, from the base model all the way to the top.
The Tech inside.
The Audi Virtual Cockpit is the best instrument display available, there can be little debate about this. Thankfully on the A5 Coupé it comes as standard. It turns what the driver sees behind the steering wheel into a dazzling display of Google Mapping, customisable readouts and access to reams of information usually reserved for a centrally mounted display. It’s the high definition quality that really makes it something special, introducing it to any Audi immediately adds serious credentials. Joining in is the usual MMI touchpad and controller with a table style screen.
Apple CarPlay comes as standard, as does DAB+ radio. There are a myriad of clever little touches such as the above average voice recognition software to the reminder that you have left your phone behind when you get out. But it’s the safety technology that impressed me the most.
While the A5 Coupé does feature many technologies that have filtered down to mainstream cars there are some noteworthy abilities. What is standard includes, autonomous emergency braking, side assist, parking system plus with rear view camera and rear cross traffic alert. To get the highest level of protection you need to purchase the $5,600 Technik Package that includes things such as Automatic Cruise Control with Stop & Go and traffic jam assist, active lane assist, collision prevent assist and turn assist. All of these programs autonomously guide, warn or intervene to prevent you from stuffing up. It could be argued that it all should be standard. But it’s the small things like a light that warns you not to open the door when a cyclist is approaching or strobing rear brake lights in emergency situations that really make for a safe car.
There are four to choose from with a range of power, torque and fuel economy figures to take into account.
- 2.0 TFSI S tronic 140kW/320Nm – 5.5 L/100km
- 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic 140kW/400Nm – 4.6L/100km
- 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic 185kW/370Nm – 6.5L / 100km
- 3.0 TFSI quattro Tiptronic 260kW/500Nm – 7.6L /100km
None of these power units fail to impress, they all deliver their own level of performance in a way that pleases the senses every time. While I drove all, let me indulge a little and focus on the immensely impressive Audi S5 coupé.
What a Drive.
If you ever want to simply have one of those drives that never gets dull, take the Great Eastern Drive in Tasmania. We plotted a path that took us from Swansea to St Helens and then back overland to Launceston. It’s a combination of what feels and looks like the Isle of Man, The Daintree Rainforest and the rugged mountain passes found throughout New Zealand. With the S5 in our hands, what better place right?
This car features phenomenal handling, rarely would an owner get to experience the sheer brilliance of the quattro system. But when it’s also combined with a uniquely tuned suspension, enormous brakes and a brand new petrol turbo V6 with 8-speed transmission, it’s a true delight.
A really spirited drive is almost too easy in this car, there’s no hint of understeer, no screeching of the wheels or any level of agitation for that matter. It just carves up corners and straights in a way that almost makes you blush. The engine is especially willing, this is one quick car – 0-100km happens in 4.7 seconds but it’s once it’s going that the power and torque really becomes apparent. With a free-revving nature and slightly distant but still pleasing engine note, it’s just a case of point the nose and accelerate all day to your hearts content.
The brakes are on point, with rear discs that are even larger than some front ones. The six-piston callipers managed to keep up with a rather strenuous drive program all day, it was only on some really twisty sections some signs of fade started to develop.
While paddle shifters are at hand, I just don’t see the point of them. The box is clever enough, some detected the odd hesitation, but when faced with turn after turn you really start to focus more on taking your hands off the wheel and trying to find a column mounted paddle rather than just steer.
The S5 would not be out of place on a track, but still manages to provide a comfortable supple drive irrespective of the adaptive damper setting. My only complaint, and it’s one that applies across the range is tyre noise, anything above 80 km/h starts to infiltrate the cabin on course chip roads which is most unwanted in such a stellar package.
Then there’s the Rest.
The other three models in the range, while of course missing the potency of the S5, are still fine automobiles. All feature direct, precise steering but a little more body roll than I was expecting. There is a slight sense of the suspension not quite keeping up with the chassis, but only at the very reaches of what would be required from a day to day drive. The other drivelines feature 7-speed dual-clutch transmissions while the TDI diesel option is the most efficient oil burner to be had with a claimed economy figure of just 4.6-litres / 100km.
- A5 Coupe 2.0 TFSI S tronic 140kW $69,900
- A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic 140kW $73,900
- A5 Coupe 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic 185kW $81,500
- S5 Coupe 3.0 TFSI quattro Tiptronic 260kW $105,800
At The End of The Day.
If you were to invest in an Audi A5 Coupé I’m fairly confident you’d drive away a very happy person, even if a newbie to the Audi brand. I’d avoid the front-wheel drive model and always head for a quattro version. What you are getting is one of the most sophisticated, eye-candy pieces of machinery on our roads currently. In even better news a sportback and cabriolet model are still to come with a mental RS5 model due in the fourth quarter. But for now the S5 Coupé is what dreams are made of, if only my budget could extend that far.