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Road test: Audi A5

2008-08-01 07:15
Audi, A5
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Audi
Model A5
Engine 3.2-litre aluminium V6 with FSI direct fuel injection
Power 195 kW at 6 000 r/min
Torque 330 Nm from 3 250 - 5 000 r/min
Transmission 6-speed tiptronic
Zero To Hundred 6.4 seconds
Top Speed 250 km/h
Fuel Tank 64 l
Fuel Consumption 9.3 l/100 km
Steering 2 years with unlimited mileage
ABS with EBD, ESP with brake assist
Front Suspension Five-link front suspension, upper and lower wishbones, tubular anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension Independent-wheel, trapezoidal-link rear suspension with resiliently mounted subframe, anti-roll bar
Service Intervals Acc. to service indicator, depending on operating conditions (max. 2 years)
Warranty 2 years with unlimited mileage
Price R 454 000

Wilmer Muller

What it's about

Audi's A5 stops traffic. It is a looker and Audi’s attempt at perfection.

This coupe, with design cues from the R8 and other modern-day Audis such as the Q7 and TT, is a showcase of class and elegance. Its design isn't only neat but athletic too - and quite impressive in the metal.

From a distance the subtle shoulder line catches the eye while A5's dramatic xenon headlights with LED running lights mesmerise bystanders. Its boot design is quite tidy too, sharing its styling with that of the new A4. A tiny lip spoiler adds a snazzy touch to the A5's slick appearance.

Although the A5's design works and it is quite the stunner, it styling isn't necessarily distinctive… It's quite remarkable how many people, and Wheels24 readers in past articles about this Audi, have compared the A5's looks with that of the BMW 3 Series Coupe. Also some find the design quite bland with not enough passion.

It oozes style and certainly feels the upmarket part too, since this four-seater is more of a grand tourer than a sports car.

Typically Audi, the perceivable build quality is class-leading with sliver-thin shutlines between body panels. The A5 isn’t flawless, though. The ride quality could be better and although it is quite a big car rear passengers face the reality of limited space.

On the inside

In Audi tradition the A5's cabin has the edge over its German rivals and it is a pleasant place to be.

Its all-new dashboard layout is similar to that of the A4 and the cockpit layout is straightforward with good ergonomics. Audi's MMI operating system does a good job in the A5 too and is difficult to fault.

The dashboard has a wraparound look with the intent of enhancing the driver's experience of being in command. Naturally, the interior has a quality feel thanks to the presence of top-notch craftsmanship, plastics and leather.

Although there is a sense of ample space for front passengers, those in the rear don't face the same comfort. In fact rear occupants, like in a BMW 6 Series Coupe, will find it difficult to get cosy and have limited legroom.

At least you won't be disappointed with the Audi's boot with a volume of 455 litres.

Of course there is a long list of optional extras such as adaptive lights, several alloy wheel designs, park assist and an impressive Bang & Olufsen sound system with 14 speakers.

A new gizmo is the A5's key, which will eventually become available on all Audis. All vital vehicle information, such as mileage and possible warning messages, is stored on the key. An Audi dealership can then extract all this data from the key as a diagnosis tool ahead of servicing.

Under the skin

The A5 isn’t only a pretty face as it is about impressive engineering too. For example, the steering has been engineered from scratch and the quattro all-wheel-drive is biased towards the rear, while Audi has moved the front axle forward by 120mm to address understeer.
A new option for the Audi A5 is the Audi Drive Select System, combined with dynamic steering and/or damping control, which helps with the handling characteristics.

It includes high-tech control systems, providing drivers with three operating modes - "comfort", "auto" and "dynamic" - that can be used to set engine, automatic transmission and steering system characteristics to the drivers’ personal preferences.

A fourth mode, "individual", is available if the car is specced with the navigation system. The driver can then use a wide variety of parameters to customise this mode as desired.

Driving it

Behind the wheel, the A5 feels big. Unlike a 3 Series Coupe the A5 feels bulky rather than athletic.

This is thanks to big pillars, which create some nasty blind spots, and the high waistline. This creates the impression that you are being caged in, but fortunately there are big side mirrors to help a bit with visibility.

However, the A5 does score when it comes to its sharper steering as it feels more accurate than Audis of the past.

Its new chassis has the desired effect too as the car feels balanced and its quattro system (with about 60% of torque going to the back wheels) gives the A5 all the traction you need through corners.

But our impression of the A5 is that it doesn’t quite involve the driver as much as the 3 Series Coupe does. It lacks the sharpness, nimbleness and dynamics of its arch-rival.

The A5 feels more like a gentleman’s car and there is little sense of fun – but then again it is a GT.

Obviously the A5’s optional Sport package addresses this in some ways, but it compromises ride quality and things do get really bumpy.

Overall the A5 is a comfortable cruiser and on highways it is very much at ease delivering a quiet and pleasurable ride.

As for the V6 FSI engine, it deserves a thumbs up. Power delivery is 195 kW and its torque of 330 Nm is available in a broad and flat rev band from 3 000 to 5 000 r/min, ensuring a claimed 0-100 km/h time of 6.4 seconds. In general this V6 is a smooth and agile power train offering tonnes of torque with an audible racy growl.

Our test A5 had Audi’s smooth 6-speed Tiptronic gearbox. Another good point is the A5’s brakes which offer potent stopping power.


With the A5, Ingolstadt again proves that it can build stylish cars.

The A5 certainly lives up to the design expectations of a classic coupe. And perfection is the name of the game when it comes to the A5’s looks and overall build quality.

Behind the wheel you will find that it is an effortless car to drive no matter the conditions. It’s easy to manoeuvre around town, and the A5 has no problem at high speed either. However, unfortunately, the drive isn’t really inspiring.

But do you know what? The car looks good and will make Audi lovers proud.

- Classic design
- Build quality

- Uninspiring drive
- Limited space for rear passengers


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