Audi A5 2.0 TFSI 2012 review
In line with a raft of changes to the Audi A5 model line-up, we spent time in an A5 Sportback...
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With two fewer doors and one less seat than the sedan on which it's based, the E Class coupe or cabriolet is always more about subjective choice than sensible decision.
With the new (or at least massively revised) range, however there are seriously sound reasons to sacrifice the grimly practical for the madly stylish. For the first time in relevant history the E Class coupe starts under $80,000 and the cabrio for less than $90K.
Here in August, two months after the new E sedan and wagon, all two door variants now represent better value. And, without being at all subjective, whether its lid is nailed on or droppable, it looks cooler.
It's slightly disconcerting to realise the lack of real rivals for this long standing line of grand tourer. Only Audi with its A5/S5 range can match each variant, but while the merits of these vary wildly, all are notable for lacking a Tristar emblem. And now it's the perceptibly less desirable marque that wants for value.
The entry Es, on the other hand, want for little. It is only the 10 grand extra on top of the coupe's $79,900 sticker for the cabrio that seems a little rich.
Both entrants, hard and soft top, run the wholly adequate 2.0-litre turbo petrol four, ride on 18-inch alloys and come standard with COMAND multi-media system with reversing camera, blind spot indicator and leather.
It's the whole package, one likely to draw first timers to this lush part of the Benz catalogue. Indeed this duo is priced in such a way as to have them leap over from C-Class or to not bother waiting for BMW's forthcoming 4 Series.
Those returning to these pastures will gravitate to the E250, which in petrol form is $96,400 and $106,400. Only the 250 coupe comes also as a diesel ($98,900).
No one wanted that scent and sound mingling with open air motoring, so the diesel cabrio goes. All 250s get 19-inch artwork for wheels, Drive Assist active safety package and LED lighting. At a price slightly down on the cars they replace, they are reckoned to contain some $15,000 in added value.
No more V8. No need. The bi-turbo V6 of the E400 runs all of 0.1 second slower to 100km/h, much leaner and some $50,000 cheaper at $128,900 for the coupe and a cheeky $142,900 in the cabrio.
Standard is digital radio (as hard to do without when you've become used to it as on demand cable TV) 360 degree camera and, in the coupe, full length sun roof. So do you really need to drop the extra on the drop top?
Various option packages can be had, though rightfully only the top model should be seen sporting AMG kit - a $7100 ask that brings enhanced dynamics to match the visual bling. The cabrio's key addition remains Airscarf, which with the top down, blows warm air around your neck as the seat heaters send it to where the sun don't shine.
Even in its mildest E200 form the turbo four is mighty impressive. In full fat 155kW and 350Nm mode it consigns naturally breathing V6s to the dustbin. Only at 110 miles per hour, not our legal limit of 110km/h, does it begin to run out of accelerative puff. Not really an issue away from the open roads of the first world then.
It's long way up, price and performance wise, to the E400. Scaling that dizzy height rewards with 245kW/480Nm, a 5.2 second 0-100kmh run time yet as little as 7.4L/100km in premium petrol use.
Benz's seven speed autos are similarly hard to fault, especially this familiar torque converter unit, which suits the E250's grand touring remit better than the racier and more abrupt twin clutch of the A-Class and Benz's hotter models lines.
All engines are turbo charged and all attain Euro 6 emission standards. The ultra low slung new CLA coupe is only Benz that punches through the air with less resistance.
Selective damping and powertrain response are, like the shifting paddles, there because they're supposed to be. You could go many a moon without touching any of these.
A new, cleaner, meaner front end is about all there is to tell it externally from the 2009 vintage. But does it make a difference. LEDs and daytime running lamps ablaze, air vents agape, the two door E looks properly serious.
Within the mildest application of chrome lifts an interior that verged on the funereal. Without singling Audi out for slapping, the perceived superiority of its interiors is now surely that - perception. A highlight is the cabrio's rear shelf, cooly colour matched to the exterior shade. It looks the goods in ice white.
The boast that autonomous driving has become one step closer is not one some of us greet with joy. Apart from its implications for an already questionable standard of urban driver awareness, removing more responsibility from our shoulders seems not unlike removing someone's foot and saying they're a step away from being able bodied.
That said, the so-called Intelligent Drive systems are sophistication embodied. Of these Distronic Plus with Steering Assist is possibly the best indication of the future. In typically sardined urban driving its sensors all but keep you in your own lane and can follow the vehicle in front.
If somehow the immense battery of accident prevention devices fails you, or rather you fail them, the E-Class is rated a five star crasher.
While the wares of BMW are being diluted by the brand's own uncertainty about what it is and who it's for, the E-Class is what it's always been. That is a grand tourer of loping rather than frantic pace, one that takes corners with wafting serenity rather than apex hunting eagerness.
Nope, there's still not many more cosseting ways of getting across vast stretches of bitumen. On some of the few expanses of patchwork bitumen in northern Germany, the E250 cabrio pretty much canters in the unruffled way it does on the snooker table smooth autobahn, making light of its hefty 1765kg kerb weight.
Want something more substantial under the bonnet? Well, you surely don't need it. This peach of a compact engine lacks only a nice note. Indeed, no soft top has any right to ride this quietly. Aside from almost ambient wind rush, it's pin drop silent. That's lid up.
This Carsguide reporter's singular record of attracting rain when and wherever he's driven any sort of open top car makes him suspect he's a mass of positive ions. It poured. The top stayed up.
The elements are not an issue in the coupe. Nor is much of anything, except the need for passengers to clamber into the back. A backseat, however, is what all other considerations take when the E400's exceptional bi-turbo V6 is front of you.
What a thing it is, a lagless leaper off the mark, pouring on the torque with the least throttle opening, barely bothering to kick down a gear. Seldom will the right foot meet the floor. The note is nicely imitative of the V8 with which you'd no longer bother.
If you're all interested in what's beneath the bonnet, this surging but refined powerplant is among world's best practice.
No real rivals. If you want the refinement and effortless ability of the E-Class in a classy, cool shape (and who the hell doesn't?) it's never been better value.
Mercedes-Benz E250 Convertible
Price: from $106,400
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol; 155kW/350Nm
Transmission: 7-speed auto; RWD
Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe
Engine: 3.0 litre biturbo V6; 245kW/480Nm
Transmission: 7-speed auto; RWD
|E400||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$33,990 – 59,900||2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2013 E400 Pricing and Specs|
|E500 Avantgarde||4.7L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$67,100 – 77,110||2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2013 E500 Avantgarde Pricing and Specs|
|E250 Avantgarde B.E||1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$37,510 – 44,110||2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2013 E250 Avantgarde B.E Pricing and Specs|
|E250 CDI Avantgarde||2.1L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO||$38,720 – 45,540||2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2013 E250 CDI Avantgarde Pricing and Specs|