MODERN CAR models typically last about six years before they are taken off the shelf and replaced with a “new, improved formula”. With the Audi A5, this washing-powder approach has been stretched to the limit: the sleekly styled coupé has enjoyed 10 years in showrooms. But now its spin cycle is coming to an end, and an all-new replacement will go on sale in Britain at the end of the year.
The claims made for the new A5 are predictable: Audi says it is larger and more spacious yet lighter than the outgoing version; the engine range has been upgraded and the bells and whistles count extended. So far, so what?
Well, perhaps the highlight of the new car is its styling. The last machine was effortlessly handsome, but this new model looks tauter and sharper, like a tailor-made suit that pinches and pulls in all the right places.
The swish looks are underpinned by the technicalities of its design: Audi’s engineers have reduced the car’s drag coefficient to 0.25, a notable reduction from the last model’s 0.31 figure and a notable accomplishment in the battle to improve fuel economy and lower emissions. This bodywork is said to cut through the air with exceptional efficiency.
The body is built on the same platform as the latest Audi A4, a model Jeremy Clarkson described as “everything a car can be and should be”. It’s not all good news, though: Clarkson went on to remark that, in being free of any idiosyncrasy, the Audi “is as characterful as a toaster”.
At the top of the new A5 range — until an RS 5 comes along, at least — is the S5. Like the most expensive bottle of pinot noir on a wine list, the four-wheel-drive 349bhp 3-litre V6 turbo is the one everyone will drool over and daydream about buying, but it will be the versions with smaller engines that fly off the shelves.
“The four-wheel-drive 349bhp 3-litre V6 turbo is the one everyone will drool over and daydream about”
There will be three turbodiesel engines (2-litre or 3-litre) and a 2.0 TFSI petrol with 188bhp. Audi is staying tight-lipped about their precise specifications and performance figures, so we can’t yet draw meaningful comparisons with the A5’s traditional rivals, the BMW 4-series and the Mercedes C-class coupé.
Harnessing the power is a chassis that can be ordered with front-wheel drive or quattro four-wheel drive, and an optional adaptive damping system for the suspension. Six-speed manual and seven-speed or eight-speed automatic gearboxes will be offered.
Audi’s now familiar “virtual cockpit” will allow drivers to configure what information they see, and innovations include the ability to check the car’s status or lock the doors through Apple TV, which can be paired with Audi’s MMI multimedia in-car entertainment and information system. A wide range of electronic driver aids will be fitted.
Has the new A5 really been worth waiting 10 years for? Will it replicate the success of its predecessor? Drivers will vote with their feet — and their finance deals. The price range is expected to be broadly similar to that of the outgoing version: about £30,000-£45,000. The cabriolet and Sportback (five-door) variants will go on sale a few months after the coupé.