Audi's A5 has always been the benchmark for automobile elegance in the premium range. The new car carries on that tradition.
Photos: Nic Loh
When Audi first launched the A5 back in 2007, the car was a breath of fresh air amongst competitors that were taking short-cuts and simply stretching their 4-door variants (cue in the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class Coupes). It won various design awards and the designer Walter de Silva said that the car was the most beautiful thing he had ever designed: “From a proportion and architecture point of view, the A5 is a perfect masterpiece,” de Silva said. So much for humility.
But it truly was a beauty. So how do you make something that great better? Well you don’t. The new A5’s designer Frank Lamberty, took on this project with the mindset of “improving the design with some subtle tweaks“. With the less-is-more approach, he made small changes to the new A5 (which is based on the new A4), most of it at the front.
The most immediate thing you’ll notice is that the nose of the A5 has dropped down by quite a bit, the grille now positioned lower than before. But the headlights are a little bit higher than the grille, so the ‘face’ is now angrier, sharper and more aggressive - which I guess works for everyone? Because people who buy sports cars want a fierce-looking car? I’m not convinced myself. I kinda liked the fact that the predecessor did NOT look fierce. It looked confident, in the same spirit of Bentley’s Continental GT.
Thankfully, the rest of the car shares similar design cues to the old one. They’ve added some new creases on the sides plus some cool Matrix LED taillights too, but otherwise the proportions are pleasantly similar to the previous car.
Get comfy on the inside (it’s very much still a 2-door coupe, so you sit low and snug on the sports seats) and you’ll find that the interior has been updated quite nicely with nice materials with classy matte finishes all round. In the centre is a new round rotary pushbutton with a surface that works as a touch-sensitive touchpad. Techy bits abound and Audi’s virtual cockpit with more touch controls and a fully digital 12.3-inch TFT dashboard display help to elevate the cabin experience.
Fire up the 190 bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged unit and a bassy exhaust note tells you this coupe is ready to roll. Switch the driver profile mode to ‘Dynamic’ and we’re off. Acceleration doesn’t feel particularly quick and the new A5 feels a tad bit short of the 320 Nm of torque it claims to have. Mind you, the car is by no means slow. It just doesn’t feel fast. Maybe that’s why they had to feed the artificial ‘engine noise’ through the speakers to emulate the sense of speed?
Some good news, the car is still great to pilot. Audi’s new electromechanical power steering gives the new A5 a bit more feedback through the steering wheel and always feels appropriately weighted in various conditions.
Audi says the A5 will do 7.3-second 0-100 km/h timing and onto a top speed of 240 km/h. One thing’s for sure, it will do all that in comfort and composure. Cruising in the A5 is what this car is all about, it’s a grand tourer more than a drag strip bruiser. It’s smooth and always relaxed. You don’t buy the A5 to be seen, neither do you buy it for speed (the S5 or RS5 yes) - instead the new A5 offers style and a overall package that is well put together by the folks at Ingolstadt.
Priced at $206,500, it’s not what anyone would call a bargain, but it is rather good value for the amount of kit you get. With BMW’s 420i priced at a few thousand less and Merc’s C200 $10k more, the A5 sits in between with a package that surpasses both its competitors. It’s not revolutionary - which is not a bad thing - but it does accomplish what it sets out to be. A car with elegance.