I’ve spent many hours as a passenger and fewer hours as a driver of the previous generation Audi RS5 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, especially when the 444HP V8 was asked to dig deep and head for the hills. As a long distance cruiser for two, it stands very near the front of the grid but that very statement reveals something about the basic A5 coupe shape which has fairly recently been updated.
The update is subtle and involves a lower front end with a few additional styling tweaks thrown in together with a slightly more curvaceous profile and a mildly massaged bum. The rakish cabin though is still thoroughly recognisable and is partly responsible for the cramped rear quarters, hence my comment about suitability for two.
A couple of adults can squeeze themselves into the rear quarters but they’ll be short of headroom and will have little knee room unless both front occupants sacrifice a fair bit of space. This all tells you that the A5 Coupe’s role in life is as a 2+2 which puts style ahead of practicality if you ignore the huge and beautifully trimmed boot.
Indeed, the test unit, a 2.0TFSI quattro with S-line trim that adds slick styling detail, looked especially gorgeous in a superbly glossy coat of deep metallic blue paintwork. The eye-catching exterior execution extends to the interior which in this case was lifted through the use of high quality mid-grey nappa leather seating complemented by similar colour inserts in the huge doors.
What a pleasant change from pervasive black, especially in a coupe with a fairly closed-in cabin. Needless to say, that Audi badge virtually guarantees the use of industry-leading trim materials and detailing and so it is in this application which included electric seats, a terrific virtual cockpit and a large central info display which incorporates satnav.
The feel-good factor is undeniable and is enhanced by the sporty styling of the exterior which attracts many admiring glances. Most importantly though, is the question of whether the go matches the show.
Sure, the 185kW 2.0 motor is no match for the now departed V8 of the RS5 (replaced by a 2.9 V6 turbo with even more firepower) but have no fears about any sense on inadequacy as this motor spins smoothly and provides a lot more grunt than you might imagine.
On the cruise, it’s all peace and quiet but a strong right foot unleashes lots of willing horses to get the biggish coupe to 100 in just 5.8s and on to a top end of 250km/h. All this grunt is marshalled by a 7-speed S tronic dual clutch gearbox which for the most part provides very smooth and ultra-rapid shifts with no slippage and no hesitation in power delivery.
Use of S mode encourages some rather nice burbles from the chromed tail pipes but in the interests of promoting good fuel economy, even in Sport setting, upward shifts occur earlier than you might expect when anything other than full throttle is used.
It’s easy enough to record consumption figures in the 8’s and even as low as 6.5l/100 on a steady cruise but be aware that a heavy foot will easily induce thirst in the area of 12.0l/100km.
Audi’s famed quattro system is wholly unobtrusive in this application and frankly is not a necessity in our relatively dry climate, but experience tells me that it’s a boon when road surfaces deteriorate badly because it offers amazing traction and incredible levels of grip when really pressing on.
Ride is perhaps one area of an Audi’s armoury that hasn’t garnered as much praise historically as the slick visual presentation but I know the engineers have been spending a lot of time more recently honing the ride and general chassis feedback on UK’s generally pock-marked roads.
Their work is clearly paying off as this Coupe delivers a controlled ride with enough pliancy, even on very low profile 255/35R19 rubber, to ensure passenger comfort. The steering feel too is decently fluid and offers acceptable feel such that the driver knows exactly what the front wheels are doing.
For sure, the Audi A5 Coupe is something of a selfish vehicle that puts style in front of practicality when it comes to passenger accommodation Provided you’re aware of this, or simply don’t need significant rear space, this A5 really is a charmer. Super-slick looks, fabulous finish and good driving dynamics see to that but in the world of today’s premium cars, all those attributes are often available with no loss of rear space.