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Audi's new muscular A5 arrives in SA: 'Pitch-perfect delivery'

2017-03-24 13:38

Alexander Parker

Western CapeAs you’ve no doubt noticed, car manufacturers build cars but more importantly, they build cars to fulfill a promise that their brand makes.

I’ve just returned from the airport in a Toyota Hilux, and I have to say that as a commuter it’s not exactly ideal. In fact it would be easy to the point of being facile to hack away at my laptop and whine about the Hilux’s limitations in terms of ride, handling, outright performance, and so on.

I’m not going to do that because, in fact, the Hilux is a truly magnificent thing. It delivers – by the bakkie-load, on a promise of reliability, toughness, reasonable cost of ownership and South African-built durability. The Hilux? It’s a genuinely great vehicle because it does what we expect it to do – and that’s why, collectively, we buy more of them than any other vehicle in SA.

This rule applies to all manufacturers and, also, usefully, brings me to the all-new Audi A5 coupe, and the new S5. What’s the promise, and does it deliver?

'Emotionally-driven design'

Audi are keen to push their view that the new A5 is an emotionally-driven design. I’m not completely convinced, to be honest, but the design tricks and work on the bodywork have done enough to lift a clean but potentially benign shape. The powerdome, of which they’re really very proud, to me seems a trifle overdone. That said, it’s a handsome car and some of the wheel options are genuinely hot.


None of this should bother you from the passenger seat. Like the car on which it is based - the A4 - the A5’s interior is a tour de force. If you like Audi interiors, you’ll love this one. It’s austere and clean, with high-quality, soft-touch plastics and chrome touches, and the virtual cockpit is intuitive, clear and dripping with perceived quality. It really is a fine place to sit.

Headroom isn’t exactly abundant in there for taller people, but that’s the price for a rakish roofline. The seats adjust in all directions and are most accommodating. Rear legroom is very much for kids – and then really only if the front passengers are willing to sacrifice some space up front too.

The A5 has been launched with a range of petrol and diesel engines. I drove a 185kW two-litre TFSI Quattro model and the current range-topper, the S5. The former is a swift, stylish and comfortable commuter and car for a couple. It’s not savagely quick, but will despatch 100km/h in under six seconds, which is more than quick enough for most.


The S5, though, is a pretty special car. 260kW is always nice but, sometimes, 500Nm is nicer.  The new turbocharged three-litre V6 is a real peach of a motor, pulling powerfully and in a creamily linear manner up to the yowling heights of 7000rpm. Thumping torque mean the eight-speed dual-clutch motor is happy to hold a higher gear during more moderate requests for progress, but pull and hold the left-hand paddle and the box will drop a whole heap of cogs – from, say, eighth to fourth -  to put you in the heart of the power band.

'A properly useful sports GT'

And then – heavens - the S5 really flies. We all know that an RS5 will come in time, but the S5 really is such a beautifully balanced car that, I have to say delivers on one of Audi’s big brand promises – the Quattro experience. Like most all-wheel-drive cars I’ve driven the S5 needs to be driven in a way that suits it. If you go barrelling into a corner like an idiot it will wash out at the front in a safe and predictable manner.

If, however, you settle the car nicely into a corner, you can really load it up and slingshot out of the apex like a scalded banshee. Do it right and the kind of lateral loads you can wrack up are something to experience. Add that to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.7 and what you have on your hands is, in the real world, a properly useful sports GT. 

The best bit about the S5? Stick it in “comfort”, put the cruise control onto something approximating the speed limit and relax. Gone is the kidney-rattling ride from Audis of old.

On a fast cruise we were averaging about 8 litres/100km, so it’s not even much of a drinker. This really is an every-day sports GT, compact enough for town, fast and planted out in the sticks, and refined and calm on the cruise. Add to that the segment’s best interior (if icy cool is your thing – Mercedes-Benz also make a classy, slightly more ostentatiously luxurious place to sit in the C-Coupe), there really isn’t much to complain about here.

I think Audi has aced it. The A4 hasn’t shot the lights out in SA, which is a pity because it is a fine, if slightly reserved car. The A5 deserves to do well and Audi SA have really obviously worked hard to address the usual criticisms of VW Group products, namely pricing and standard equipment.

It’s not a cheap car but it does stack up surprisingly well in terms of price when compared to its competitors, and if you’re keen have a look at what comes standard on an Audi A5 these days. You’ll be surprised.

Not only is the S5 a good car, it’s a pitch-perfect delivery on the promise of Quattro. That’s high praise – I really liked it. 

Swipe/Scroll through the images below:

Standard equipment

New trim lines provide numerous customization opportunities, for both the interior and the exterior. Besides the base model, there is also the sport line which offers additional equipment to enhance the sporty look of the vehicle.

The S line sport package and the Audi design selection are available for sophisticated customization, particularly for the interior. Audi offers the S line exterior package for a particularly dynamic appearance.

The following equipment is available as standard on the 2.0T FSI 140 kW and 2.0 TDI 140 kW:
17" alloy wheels
Luggage compartment lid, automatically opening
Dynamic suspension
Space-saving spare wheel
Leather steering wheel in 3-spoke design with multifunction plus
Audi drive select
Reinforced bumpers
ISOFIX child seat mounting anchorage point for outer rear seats
Folding rear seat back
Rear head restraints
Interior mirror, automatically dimming, frameless
Fullsize airbags with front passenger airbag deactivation
Side airbags at front and head airbag system
High-gloss package
Inlays in Micrometallic silver
Exterior mirror housings painted in body colour
Indirect tire pressure monitoring system
Door sill trims with aluminium inlays
Xenon plus headlights and LED rear lights
Cruise control
Headlight washers
Automatic air conditioning
Driver information system with colour display
Audi sound system
Bluetooth interface
MMI radio plus
Leather/artificial leather combination
Ambient lighting package
USB and Aux interface

In addition, the Sport models will feature the following equipment:
18" alloy wheels
Inlays in aluminium ellipse
Reinforced bumpers
Front sport seats
Line specific radiator grille, air intakes with tailpipe trims in chrome

Over and above, the following equipment will be available for the 2.0T FSI 185 kW quattro:
Front seats, electrically adjustable
quattro with self-locking centre differential
Rear parking aid

The Audi S5 Coupé will have the following standard equipment over and above the rest of the range:
19" alloy wheels
LED headlights
LED rear lights with dynamic indicator
Audi pre-sense basic
Comfort key
Door sill trims with aluminium inlays and S rhombus emblem, illuminated
Electrically adjustable front seats
Lumbar support, pneumatically adjustable with massage function
Fine Nappa leather trim
High-gloss package
quattro with self-locking centre differential
S front sports seats
S sports suspension
Sport contour leather steering wheel, 3-spoke design, flattened at the with multifunction plus

Prices 

The Audi A5 range will be priced as follows, standard with the 5-year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan and inclusive of all taxes:
 
Audi A5 Coupé 2.0T FSI 140kW S tronic: R589 000
Audi A5 Coupé 2.0T FSI 140kW S tronic Sport: R623 000
Audi A5 Coupé 2.0 TDI 140kW S tronic: R619 000
Audi A5 Coupé 2.0 TDI 140kW S tronic Sport: R653 000
Audi A5 Coupé 2.0 TDI 140kW quattro S tronic: R652 500
Audi A5 Coupé 2.0 TDI 140kW quattro S tronic Sport: R686 500
Audi A5 Coupé 2.0T FSI 185kW quattro S tronic: R723 500
Audi A5 Coupé 2.0T FSI 185kW quattro Stronic Sport: R757 500
Audi S5 Coupé 3.0T FSI 260kW quattro S tronic: R928 000

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