From £31,5358
Audi replaces the oldest model in its line-up – and not before time. We drive the all-new A5 coupé in V6 diesel form

Our Verdict

Audi A5

Ingolstadt’s dome-roofed hatchback returns to the executive fray

15 June 2016

What is it?

It's the all-new - but not all that different-looking - A5 coupé, Audi's long-serving and understatedly elegant rival to the BMW 4 Series and Mercedes C-Class Coupé

As was the case with the old A5, you could glibly call it an A4 in drag, but these days that's not such a bad thing. It means the new model sits on Audi’s lightweight and sophisticated MLB Evo platform, which in turn trims around 60kg off the kerb weight compared with the now nine-year-old outgoing model.

The downside is that it could also mean A4-like laid-back dynamics of the sort that Audi might argue are what most high-miling saloon buyers will want, but which, we'd wager, are less likely to interest anyone in the market for a two-door coupé. Fortunately Audi agrees on the latter, so although the A5 shares its fundamental suspension architecture with the A4, the new coupé has been given a 'sportier feel'. More precisely, that means stiffer springs across all three suspension options, two of them being no-cost passive set-ups and the third featuring adaptive damping.

Order books will open in late summer, with first deliveries expected in November, with an engine range that is largely the same as that of the A4 saloon, the notable absence being that model's weakest 148bhp 2.0 TDI motor. Here we're driving the range-topping V6 diesel, which gets an eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic gearbox rather than the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic that features on the less torquey engines.

What's it like?

Audi wasn't fibbing ­– there really are noticeable differences between the new A5 and its saloon sibling, particularly when it comes to ride. Whereas a comfort adaptive suspension-equipped A4 floats over bumps with a similarly lazy gait to that of an old Citroën, the A5's adaptive set-up struggles more over sharp-edged depressions. It's still far from uncomfortable, but the damping on the rival BMW 430d always feels that bit more sophisticated.

The optional Dynamic variable steering on our test car was as predictably unwelcome as it is on most other Audis, making it frustratingly difficult to apply lock with any degree of instinct. The slow off-centre response quickens exponentially as you turn in, and that absence of linearity means you regularly find yourself having multiple stabs at a corner. Wider experience with the A4 suggests the standard rack will be the preferable choice, although it's still unlikely to be blessed with much natural feel or communication.

High-speed stability is much more laudable (which isn’t surprising given Audi’s predilection for autobahn composure), while body control and outright grip through corners also impress, with obvious but easily managed understeer the order of the day if you manage to carry in too much speed. It’s just never a particularly joyful experience. In short, the A5 is ever secure through bends but a bit inconsistent and flavourless.

There's more to like elsewhere. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine is a mighty thing, serving up its formidable 457lb ft between 1500 and 3000rpm and making the piling on of speed ridiculously easy. It actually feels as rapid as the 349bhp S5 in the real world, but just as impressive is how refined the engine is; you barely hear more than a muted purr from it, even when you’re accelerating hard. Minimal wind noise also helps make the A5 a peaceful cruiser, although some road noise is noticeable over coarse surfaces – although our test car’s larger-than-standard 19in alloys and the poorly maintained roads along our Portuguese test route probably didn’t help.

The new A5 doesn’t disappoint inside, either, pipping the cabin quality of its German rivals with upmarket materials everywhere you look and feel. True, the design of the interior perhaps lacks the flair and imagination of a C-Class Coupé, but the flipside is a better-structured, more logical dashboard layout. Audi’s MMI infotainment system comes as standard and features a clear 7.0in display mounted centrally on the dashboard and controlled with the usual rotary dial between the front seats. Sat-nav comes as standard on all trims, although Virtual Cockpit – Audi’s 12.3in screen that takes the place of the standard analogue instrument dials – costs extra.

Clearly, you won’t be considering a coupé if space is your number one priority, but the A5 isn’t as impractical as you might imagine. A couple of six-footers will fit in the back easily enough, although they’ll have to slouch to keep their heads from brushing on the ceiling. Officially, there’s more boot space than in a 4 Series or a C-Class Coupé and, while the differences are small, the A5’s load bay is certainly usefully squarer than those of its rivals. It also comes with 40/20/40 split folding rear seats as standard, and when folded down they leave only a gentle slope in the floor of the extended load bay.

Should I buy one?

Prices haven’t been confirmed but expect to pay around £2000 more than you would for an equivalent A4 saloon. That pegs this range-topping 3.0 TDI quattro at around £42,000, which seems reasonable given the performance and promised generous amount of standard kit, although the latter still hasn’t been confirmed for the UK.

Nevertheless, we reckon a 430d is a more appealing buy if you're even remotely interested in driving. No, it can't match the new A5 for all-round refinement or interior quality, but it's an altogether more rewarding steer while being similarly rapid in a straight line. Steer clear of the fun-sapping xDrive version and you’ll also save a few quid.

That said, the new A5 is comfortable enough and a formidable high-speed mile-eater, so if that’s what you’re after, you don’t need rear doors and you want a sleeker outfit than any executive saloon can offer, there’s plenty about the A5 that will appeal.

Audi A5 3.0 TDI quattro 286

Location Porto, Portugal; On sale November; Price £42,000 (est); Engine V6, 2967cc, diesel; Power 282bhp; Torque 2457lb ft at 1500-3000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd auto; Kerb weight na; 0-62mph na; Top speed na; Economy na; CO2/tax band na, na

 

Join the debate

Comments
11

db

15 June 2016
Audi and the VW group need to take a long hard look at their styling this A5 looks like a Skoda Superb coupe change the grill and badges job done ! It sounds really exciting to drive again default 4 stars ??? for a car that is described in such glowing dynamic terms "It’s just never a particularly joyful experience. In short, the A5 is ever secure through bends but a bit inconsistent and flavourless"
A "Superb" coupe on a platform that the VW Porsche division will make dynamic I am sure with all the harsh detailing ironed out.

15 June 2016
I really dont like the interior, in particular the recent trend of door panel detailing having nothing to do with the dashboard design. Here the door pull and its aluminium surround sit awkwardly next to - but not related to - the edge of the dashboard. Terrible.

15 June 2016
I hadn't noticed that detail, but now you've pointed it out, I see how awful it looks. The quality of comments and knowledge displayed by Autocar commenters is very high and becoming the main reason I visit this website. I don't often get involved - my opinions aren't that knowledgable or important, but I enjoy reading your comments, frequently more so than the article itself.
Except when trolling starts, of course.
But, C'mon Audi, you can do better than this half baked "New" A5. It just looks like the old one, ruined by extra folds and creases.

Aussie Rob - a view from down under

15 June 2016
Thank you for your post. I'm simply interested in cars as visual objects because of the complex interplay of its parts. In fact I'm not even particularly interested in the visual arts (I mean paintings) but believe that attentive response to music - because a piece of serious music is made up of interrelated parts - could open up ways of understanding car design. I just wish car designers rely less on inspiration and more on perspiration. In the end ideas have to be worked out and relate to other ideas. As Daniel Joseph pointed out below, the profile of the A5 is problematic, where the straight rising crease line doesn't 'go' with the undulating waistline. The two ideas don't work together, neither in harmony nor as a contrasting pair. Time and again, and not only in Audi, there are superfluous details that work against other elements. I fear that car design, with rare exceptions, has gone into terminal decline. For me the only redeeming feature in current car design is the advance in three-dimensional thinking. But in terms of overall shape and coherence it's like a conductor who is unable to hold a performance together.

15 June 2016
Is it just me, or does the profile (picture 4 above) look really unhappy? IMHO, the arrow-straight rising lower bodyside crease sits very uncomfortably with the curving waistline and the way the nose drops over the headlamps is just odd to my eyes. As for that nasty and superfluous bit of ornamentation bridging the front wing to door shut-line... Sorry, but the original A5 was quite a handsome and restrained looking beast. This doesn't represent any advance in design terms. Oh, and Jaguar want their F-type bonnet back! Looks are, of course, entirely subjective, but what really kills this car for me is the reviewer's comment that "...a 430d is a more appealing buy if you're even remotely interested in driving." If a coupé that is more expensive and less practical than the equivalent saloon doesn't look better or drive better then, really, what is the point?

16 June 2016
The biggest problem for me with this car is that HIDEOUS cheap looking screen on the dash. The A3 (a much cheaper car) gets an electric screen which rises out of the dash and can disappear when not needed, as do the A6/7/8 and Q7. Even the A1 and Q3 have screen which manually folds away, so why does Audi think it's acceptable to have an ugly slab constantly stuck there on the dash on such an expensive 'luxury' car?! Mercedes started the trend but at least they're phasing it out now (judging by the new E-Class). This screen is the single biggest reason I definitely won't be choosing another A5 when I upgrade my current one.

16 June 2016
Agree 100% with the previous post. I have had S4 Avants and Cabs before and will be passing on this model iteration of the A4/A5 for that reason. Looks cheap and stuck on - very annoying when the A3 loaner I am normally given when my car gets serviced has a screen that disappears at the push of a button. Cheap effort Audi.

16 June 2016
Above, you so right about the A3 Sat Nav. a brilliant position to present Maps etc in the safest way, it gives an air of quality when it retracts into it's hole. An A3 was used in a television police drama the other day and it must have been disabled as it didn't go up when the car started, not sure what that's got to do with anything.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

16 June 2016
even my astra has a dash that goes into the doors - I guess this isn't a modern requirement any more - I like dashes that flow - obviously this A5 is a far better car then my astra, but I do like the way my astra dash fits wkith the doors - it was one of the first things I noticed (same with insignia).

Prepared to see plenty of these - as audi can do no wrong on the pcp side.

16 June 2016
It would be great to see a side-by-side comparison of the old and new model. I think most would agree the older model looks better! A wasted opportunity from Audi. Also, I hate these cheap looking screen stuck on in the middle of the facia. First Mercedes and now Audi, whatever happened to the disappearing into their drawer screens? Clean, neat and elegant solutions only please.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Citroën C3 Aircross
    First Drive
    17 October 2017
    It's got funky looks and a charming interior, but it's another small SUV, and another dynamic miss. Numb steering is just one thing keeping it from class best
  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer
  • Citroën C3
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Is the third gen Citroën C3 ‘fresh and different’ enough to take on its supermini rivals? We spend six months with one to find out
  • BMW X3
    First Drive
    15 October 2017
    A satisfying rework of the X3 that usefully improves its handling, cabin finish, space and connectivity to make this BMW a class front-runner again