Audi A5 set to stick the boot into its rivals

 

By Philip Hedderman

 

It’s strange the way we associate certain models with certain styling.

 

The Audi A5 is a prime example of that.

 

Think A5 and one immediately thinks Coupe.

 

Why?

 

Maybe it’s because of the sheer fuss created in the motoring world when she exploded onto the scene in the summer of 2007. Or it could well be the fact that they followed up with the stunning Cabrio and the blistering R5 in two years later. The coupe signalled the beginning of a resurgence of the 4 rings as a luxury brand that had plans of taking over the world.

 

Bizarre considering the Sportback is the biggest seller of all the models in the 5 range here – and it’s not hard to see why. Looks, build quality and value are the key to success – oh, and a gargantuan boot for that ever expanding family.

Couple that with coupe styling and it’s pretty much the best all-round package.

 

But the boys who chant ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ 100 times every morning before the start of a shift had very different ideas. You see, to perfectionists, nothing is ever 100 per cent right so in early last year a team of automotive boffins took it apart bolt-by-bolt to make it even better.

 

Exterior-wise the changes have been very subtle and to be fair, only Audi geeks will immediately spot the difference.

It’s the hidden tweaks is where this A5 stands out from the old one. Simple things like a lighter and shorter clutch make driving this car even more pleasurable.

 

But the biggest selling point of the tweaked model is efficiency – and that translates into cold, hard cash.

 

Emissions across the engine range have been reduced by a massive 22 per cent with the entry level petrol 1.8 TFSi residing in Tax Band B with a reading of 134g/km while returning over 40mpg. But the car on test here is the 177bhp, 2.0 l litre, TDi diesel which will account for the majority of sales in Ireland.

 

Economy is nothing short of astounding.

 

This executive motor has the thirst of a city car sipping juice so slowly that I easily achieved 46mpg while residing in Tax Band A – meaning €160 a year for the beer mat in the window. At the international launch in Spain last year we here at thenextgear were more than impressed but were a little vexed that there was no six-speed manual to test. We pondered just whether the bread n’ butter version would leave us wanting?

 

In a word – No.

 

In fact, we were really pleasantly surprised.

 

Climbing in and out of a Coupe with its lower than average roof and the chassis sitting closer to the ground can become really tiresome after a couple of days. This is heightened on long commutes and by the end of the week one is glad to see the back of her.

 

Not here.

 

The comfort of the cabin is 5-star and the ride superb.

 

That’s down to the drive settings – Individual, Dynamic and Comfort which adjusts the steering and suspension settings accordingly.  There is lots of poke too with enough grunt for a bus this big and she cruised effortlessly hitting 120kph while ticking over at 2,000rpm.

 

The suspension, which we felt was a little too spongy on test one, proved to be the exact mix to deal with Irish roads and conditions. The enormous boot in the Sportback is one of the true hidden treasures and it’s easy to see why it’ll top the sales charts. There is plenty of standard kit including cruise control, parking sensors, leather, multi-function steering wheel and light and rain sensors.

 

But the usual Audi rules apply – especially with the extras list.

 

Thankfully the German giant have cobbled together an SE package which will add 18 inch 5-spoke alloys, leather upholstery, Xenon Lights with LED running lights, colour driver information system and Bluetooth – all for an extra €2,500.

 

That’s a pretty good deal considering the sexy light cluster alone would cost €1,485.

 

Prices for the A5 start at €39,970.