What is it?
A quick recap of what's new about Audi's latest A5 Coupé, a car that needs to build on the previous model's steadily strong sales, which continued right until its death.
Firstly, the A5 is now a lighter car than before, by some 60kg, its bigger dimensions mean more cabin space, and behind its seating for five lies a larger boot. This A5 also sits on the latest evolution of Audi's MLB chassis architecture, so we can reasonably expect it to ride and handle more competently, too.
And so it might, because those worried that the A5's close connection with its more subdued executive A4 stablemate will mean a dull drive have been considered. Indeed, the A5 receives stiffer springs in a bid to offer the 'sportier feel' buyers are looking for, to go with its sleeker looks.
The A4's and A5's engine line-ups are a game of 'spot the difference', but they are - marginally - different from each other. The A5 does without the A4's lower-powered 148bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, while the range-topping 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel doesn't arrive in the coupé until early next year. Until then, we've driven the lower-powered, 215bhp version of the V6 TDI in the UK.
What's it like?
Another powertrain quirk worth mentioning is that whereas the A4 pairs front-wheel drive with this engine in search of low CO2 emissions, the A5 Coupé combines it with quattro all-wheel drive only. The relatively small losses in CO2 and fuel economy are well worth the gains in driver satisfaction, particularly traction from standstill in slippery conditions - something with which the front-drive A4 often struggles.
This only helps you to admire the engine even more. It's superbly stout at low revs, dragging this now lighter A5 forward with real purpose from just 1250rpm, and doing so with all the refinement of cars twice its price. It's true that Audi's seven-speed S tronic gearbox is capable of dithering when handling large throttle inputs from low speeds, the A5's electronic brain presumably pondering over how best to deliver such an onslaught of torque. However, it's never a dangerously long pause, and once rolling, the ’box is far better behaved.
It's a shame, then, that the A5 doesn't have the playful handling this engine deserves. Our car went without Audi's optional (£950) Dynamic steering, and it's all the better for it, feeling more linear. Even so, the A5's front end doesn't feel as agile or communicative as that of the BMW 4 Series, and while its steering is certainly precise, the A5's reaction to it is always safe and secure rather than truly interactive.
That's not to say the combination of the A5's precise steering, good body control, strong engine and quattro all-wheel drive won't make it decently quick across country, especially now the weather has turned. And despite the added 'sportier feel', there's not a huge amount of ride degradation, either. It's certainly firmer than an A4 (on our car's S line set-up particularly) but it stays nicely controlled regardless.
The new A5 doesn’t disappoint inside, pipping the cabin quality of its German rivals with upmarket materials everywhere you look and touch. True, the design of the interior perhaps lacks the flair and imagination of a Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé, but the flipside is a better-structured, more logical dashboard layout.