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Audi A5 first drive review

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    The A5s all drive pretty well and their very torquey motors, petrol and diesel, provide lots of `go.' Photo Gallery

Bill Buys road tests and reviews the new Audi A5 range.

Three body styles, each with a choice of six engines, are enough to make the buying of a new Audi A5 or S5 a formidable task.

The updated German luxwagen range has minor front and rear styling changes, fewer buttons on the dash and console and all models get direct-injection turbo motors and start-stop technology.

The upgrades cover the Coupe, the five-door Sportback and the Cabriolet, and there are brand new 1.8-litre TSFI (petrol) and 2.0-litre TDI (diesel) engines to satisfy the growing swing to fuel-efficiency.

The range now encompasses a considerable 21 models, 13 of them with fuel stats of less than 7.0-litres/100km, the magic figure that lets them escape some of the government's luxury tax grab.

The hotshot RS5 model is expected in June.

TECHNOLOGY

While the outside hasn't changed much, a lot has been going on under the handsome Walter de Silva-styled skin. There are revised gear ratios in each of the three transmission choices, less engine friction, more efficient three-zone climate control aircon, upgraded suspension and a new electro-mechanical steering system.

In the cogs section there's a six-speed manual, eight-speed Multitronic (CVT) or seven-speed S tronic.

Select the optional Auto Drive and you can pick from five driving modes: efficiency, comfort, auto, dynamic and one which can be tailored to personal taste. The engines are 1.8, 2.0 and 3.0litres, all but the little y with diesel options and power outputs go from 125 to 245/440 in the S5 Cabrio.

Even the 1.8 gets a very diesel-like 320Nm from as low as 1400rpm. It and the new 2.0litre diesel (130/380) are the only models that come with front-wheel drive.

INSIDE

Typical Teutonic with clear instrumentation, clean lines and decent seating. There's a new steering wheel, (also a flat-bottomed one as an option), a `concert' radio with CD player and 6.5-inch colour screen and info system, a huge cargo area and an electro-mechanical parking brake. The console and dash trim can be had in aluminium, walnut or ash and the seats with heating or cooling. Or both.

There are 15 exterior colours and several interior mixes to choose from. Alternatively, Audi will paint your A5 any colour you want for an extra $4500 or so. The Cabrio's fast-working, multi-layered soft top also has a palette to choose from.

DRIVE

We had spells with the 1.8, 2.0litre TSFI and 2.0litre TDI on the freeways and steep and twisty roads of the Blue Mountains region, with the new 2.0litre diesel our favourite. The A5s all drive pretty well and their very torquey motors, petrol and diesel, provide lots of `go.'

But the new steering was a bit of a letdown. It varied from heavy in dynamic mode to numb in comfort and one car had the optional Active Lane Assist system, which identifies white lines on the road and helps keep the car within them.

It's fine for a lazy Sunday drive, but tries to counter a faster driver's direction on a winding road, so it ends up becoming an annoying wrist-wrestle. And it can't be switched off.

The steering, in any form, does seem to be at odds with the A5's otherwise impressive dynamics.

PRICES

Start at $66,900 for the 1.8, peak at $146,500 for the 3.0litre S5 Cabriolet S tronic. Most of the range is in the $80,000 to $100,000 bracket. The striking Sportback, a four-door that looks like a coupe, is by far the top seller as far as design goes. 

The new 1.8TFSI could well become the most popular individual model. It's a hi-spec, super-eco and quite zippy number in this elite line-up. We'd pick a sexy 2.0 TDI  Coupe by preference, but common sense says a Sportback.

AUDI A5

Prices: $66,900 (1.8 TFSI Coupe/Sportback) to $161,900 (RS5 Coupe)
Warranty: 3 yrs unlimited km
Service interval: 15,000km
Engines: 1.8, 2.0 and 3.0 TFSI and 2.0 and 3.0 TDI, 125kW-331kW
Transmissions: 8-speed multitronic, 6-speed manual, 7-speed S tronic, FWD and AWD
Dimensions: 4.71m (Sportback), 4.63m (Coupe, Cabrio), 1,85m (W), 1.37-1.39m (H)
Safety: 5-star Euro NCAP, 6-8 airbags, stability control, ABS, optional lane assist, side assist, adaptive cruise
Thirst: 4.7L/100km (2.0 TDI Coupe) to 8.5L/100km (3.0 TFSI Cab)

Model Power Thirst Price
A5 Sportback 1.8 TFSI Multitronic 125kW 5.9L/100km $66,900
A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI Multitronic 130kW 4.8L/100km $68,700
A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI Quattro manual 155kW 6.8L/100km $80,900
A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI Quattro S tronic 155kW 7L/100km $83,200
A5 Sportback 3.0 TDI Quattro S tronic 180kW 5.7L/100km $95,900
A5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI Quattro S tronic 200kW 8.1L/100km $100,800
S5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI S tronic 245kW 8.1L/100km $135,900
A5 Coupe 1.8 TFSI Multitronic 125kW 5.8L/100km $66,900
A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI Multitronic 130kW 4.7L/100km $68,700
A5 Coupe 2.0 TFSI Quattro manual 155kW 6.8L/100km $80,900
A5 Coupe 2.0 TFSI Quattro S tronic 155kW 7L/100km $83,200
A5 Coupe 3.0 TDI Quattro S tronic 180kW 5.7L/100km $95,900
A5 Coupe 3.0 TFSI Quattro S tronic 200kW 8.1L/100km $100,800
S5 Coupe 3.0 TFSI Quattro S tronic 245kW 8.1L/100km $135,900
RS 5 Coupe 4.2 FSI V8 S tronic 331kW   $161,900
A5 Cabriolet 1.8 TFSI Multitronic 125kW 6.2L/100km $78,500
A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TDI Multitronic 130kW 5L/100km $80,900
A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro S tronic 155kW 7.2L/100km $96,900
A5 Cabriolet 3.0 TDI Quattro S tronic 180kW 5.9L/100km $108,800
A5 Cabriolet 3.0 TFSI Quattro S tronic 200kW 8.5L/100km $112,900
S5 Cabriolet 3.0 TFSI S tronic 245kW 8.5L/100km $146,500

RIVALS

  • Alfa Romeo Brera coupe (from $64,900)
  • BMW 3 Series coupe (from $66,500)
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe (from $58,900).

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