Mercedes-Benz A-Class VS Audi A5
- Ride comfort
- So-so warranty
- Okay only rear headroom
- Tight rear door apertures
- Stunning looks
- Masterful interior
- Plenty of great technology
- Firm-ish suspension could grate in city
- Lacks the practicality of a four-door
- Steering not as sharp as S5 model
Meet the world’s most aerodynamically efficient passenger car. Mercedes-Benz says the drag co-efficient for this new sedan version of its fourth-generation A-Class is the lowest ever measured for a passenger vehicle.
Which is quite a claim, but you only have to look at it to see how much work has gone into marrying good looks with slippery aero performance.
|Engine Type||1.3L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Beauty is one of those things that’s near impossible to get across-the-board agreement on. What I think is cutting-edge and cool, you might think is the definition of trying too hard, and vice versa.
Or, to put it another way, we’ve been assured Ssangyong has sold more than zero cars, so their design has got to be working for someone, somewhere.
Of the 2017 Audi A5 Coupe, however, there can be no debate. It is beautiful. It’s indisputable. A perfectly placed collection of sleek lines, bulging guards and powerful stance.
But with a new platform, new suspension and an overhauled suite of engines, the question is whether this sleek coupe is more than just a pretty face.
The second-generation version of the A5 Sportback is set to appear in May, while the new A5 Cabriolet will follow later this year. For now, the two-door Coupe will lead the charge.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
Mercedes-Benz knows its way around a sedan, and this A-Class is a well-equipped, comfortable and efficient city-sized four-door.
But more than that, to my eyes anyway, it’s a perfect example of restrained form matching aero function with beautiful results.
Would your preference be an A-Class with a hatch or a boot? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Stunning to behold, quiet to sit in and swimming in technology, the A5 Coupe ticks a lot of boxes. We’ll wait ’til we’ve driven it in the city before we make a final verdict, but at glance, there’s a lot to love about this sexy, slinky two-door.
Would the Audi A5 be your pick of the premium mid-size coupes? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
A global carmaker can’t hold its head up in public without a formal design strategy, and Mercedes-Benz uses ‘Sensual Purity’ as a guiding principle in developing the look and feel of its current models. It may sound airy-fairy, but I for one reckon it’s accurate in describing the A-Class sedan.
The overall form is flowing and minimalist, the major exception being a hard character line running down the side of the car from the trailing edge of the angular LED headlights and along the top of the doors to link with the tail-lights.
A rear-biased glasshouse emphasises the length of the bonnet, at the same time delivering a broad, muscular stance with short overhangs front and rear.
Ultra-fine panel gaps, careful sealing around the headlights and curved strakes either side of the bonnet keep the look clean and simple, not to mention super-slippery.
The interior has been styled to within an inch of its life, the dash dominated by the slick twin 10.25-inch widescreen ‘MBUX’ display covering instruments, ventilation, media and vehicle settings.
Five signature, turbine-style air vents (three in the centre, and one at each edge) lift the dash’s visual interest, and the quality of fit and finish is top-shelf.
The original A5 was penned by a gentleman by the name of Walter de Silva (he of Lamborghini Egoista and Audi R8 fame), who described his car as “the most beautiful I've ever created."
If it ain’t broke, and all that. Audi’s design team has tinkered around the edges of its A5 Coupe, reworking the grille and headlights, and adding bulges to the bonnet and creases to the bodywork, but the family resemblance is clear.
And it works: all wide and low front end, windswept roofline and muscular guards. Inside, too, is a perfectly executed space, at once premium and polished, and with an obvious attention to detail.
At a bit over 4.5m long, a fraction under 1.8m wide, and close to 1.5m tall the A-Class sedan is 130mm longer and 6.0mm higher than the hatch version.
The A-Class sedan driver is presented with the same sleek widescreen display as found in the hatch, and storage runs to two cupholders in the centre console, a lidded bin/armrest between the seats (including twin USB ports), decent door pockets with room for bottles and a medium-size glove box.
In a swap to the rear, sitting behind the driver’s seat set to my (183cm) position, I enjoyed adequate knee and headroom, although stretching up a to a straight-back position led to a scalp to headlining interface.
In the A 200 a centre fold-down armrest incorporates two cupholders, again there are generous pockets in the doors with room for bottles, and adjustable ventilation outlets are set into the back of the front centre console. Always a plus.
There are three belted positions across the rear, but the adults using them for anything other than short journeys will have to be good friends and flexible. Best for two grown-ups, and three kids will be fine.
One snag is the size of the rear door aperture. Okay for taller people on the way in, but a limb-unfolding gymnastic exercise on exit.
But of course the reason we’re all here is the boot, and the sedan’s extra length translates to an additional 60 litres of luggage space for a total cargo volume of 430 litres (VDA).
Extra space is one thing, but usability is another. The benefit of a hatch is a large opening that allows bulky stuff to find a home, and Merc has pushed the sedan’s boot aperture to just under a metre across and there’s half a metre between the base of the rear window and the lower edge of the boot lid.
That’s made a big difference and access is good, with the rear seats folding 40/20/40 to add extra flexibility and volume. There are also tie-down hooks at each corner of the floor (a luggage net is included) and a netted pocket behind the passenger side wheel tub (with 12-volt outlet).
At the time of writing Mercedes-Benz wasn’t quoting towing specifications, and don’t bother looking for a spare wheel, the tyres are run-flats.
It’s a Coupe in the traditional sense of the word, so expect two doors, four seats and some slightly awkward acrobatics if anyone older than a teenager tries to get into the rear seats.
Front and back passengers get a cupholder each, while the rear-seat passengers also score their own air-con controls and a power outlet. Expect two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back.
Boot space is listed at 465 litres (up 10 litres on the previous generation car) and the rear seat is split 40/20/40.
Price and features
The A-Class sedan is launching with two variants, the A 200 at $49,400, before on-road costs, and an entry-level A 180, arriving in August 2019 at $44,900.
We’ll cover active and passive safety tech in the safety section, but above and beyond that standard equipment for the A 180 runs to 17-inch alloy wheels, ‘Artico’ faux leather upholstery, the ‘MBUX’ widescreen cockpit display (two 10.25-inch digital screens), auto LED headlights and DRLs, keyless entry and start, auto-dimming rearview mirror, climate-control, sat nav, multi-function sports steering wheel, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, ‘Active Parking Assist’ (with ultrasonic proximity sensors front and rear), tinted glass, plus nine-speaker, 225W audio with digital radio, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The A200 steps up to 18-inch alloy rims, and adds a dual exhaust system, four-way electrical adjustment for the driver’s seat (with lumbar support), a folding rear armrest (with twin cupholders), adaptive high-beam assist, and a wireless device charging bay.
The A5 Coupe range arrives in a single, well-equipped trim level, with how much that will cost you is dependent on what engine you want, and whether you want the power sent to the front wheels, or all four.
The story begins with the 2.0 TFSI S tronic ($69,900), while opting for the diesel-powered 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic will lift the asking price to $73,900. Top of the A5 tree is the 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic ($81,500), which also adds some extra kit.
Engine options aside, the S5 arrives with 18-inch alloys, LED headlights and tail-lights, a nav-equipped 8.3-inch centre screen and Audi’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit, which replaces the old-school dials you used to find in your driver’s binnacle.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also make the standard features list, along with a 10-speaker stereo and a customisable ambient interior lighting set-up. Leather seats, tri-zone climate control and a boot that opens when you wave your foot under it round out the feature highlights.
Spring for the 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic (catchy name, no?) and your rims grow to 19 inches, your wheel is swapped for the very good flat-bottomed number from the S5, and your wing mirrors earn an auto-dimming function.
Audi has rolled most of its options into easy to understand packages for the A5 Coupe, too. The safety-focussed 'Assistance Package' adds things like AEB, active lane assist and active cruise control, and will add $2470 to the asking price. A 'Technik Package' adds a head-up display, Audi’s Matrix headlights and upgrades the stereo to a Bang and Olufsen unit, and will cost you an extra $5600.
Finally, the S Line Sport or 'Style Pack' will give you a sportier interior and a better-looking exterior, but will cost you $2500 or $3900 for the Style version, and $5900 or $7400 for the Sport version, depending on which model you bought in the first place.
Engine & trans
Both models are powered by the same 1.3-litre (M282) direct-injection four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine as the hatch, the A180 tuned to deliver 100kW (at 5500rpm) and 200Nm (at 1460rpm), with the A 200 bumping that up to 120kW (at 5500rpm) and 250Nm (at 1620rpm).
There are three engines on offer in the A5 Coupe, which begins with the entry level 2.0 TFSI S tronic, delivering 140kW/320Nm to the front wheels via the only gearbox in the A5 Coupe family, a seven-speed 'DSG' dual-clutch automatic. That’s enough to see the A5 flash from 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 240km/h.
The sole diesel in the line-up arrives with the 2.0 TDI S tronic, which also produces 140kW but sees torque increase to 400Nm and sends its power to all four wheels via the same seven-speed gearbox. The 100km/h sprint is an identical 7.2 seconds, while your top speed drops slightly to 235km.
The baddest of the non S-stamped models is the 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic, which lifts outputs to a healthy 185kW/370Nm, lopping more than a second off the sprint to 100km/h (now 5.8secs), and increasing the top speed to (an electronically limited 250km/h).
Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 5.7L/100km for both models, with a CO2 emissions figure of 130g/km.
Over roughly 250km of open highway driving on the launch program the A 200’s on-board computer coughed up a figure of 6.3L/100km. So, the real-world highway cycle figure is higher than the claimed combined number. Which is a miss, but not a massive one, and fuel-efficiency is still pretty impressive.
Minimum fuel requirement is 95 RON premium unleaded, and you’ll need 43 litres of it (plus a 5.0-litre reserve) to fill the tank.
The entry level petrol engine sips a claimed 5.5L/100km for the combined (urban/extra urban) cycle, with C02 emissions pegged at 125g/km. Audi claims the 2.0 TDI engine uses just 4.7L/100km on the same cycle, while emitting 121g/km.
The biggest petrol engine trades its performance for increased fuel use, needing a claimed/combined 6.5L/100km, and emitting 149g/km.
Three things stand out on first meeting with the A-Class sedan – ride comfort, steering feel, and road noise, or rather the lack of it.
The ‘biggest’ compliment you can pay a small car is that it rides like a bigger one, and behind the A 200’s wheel you’d swear the wheelbase was appreciably longer than the 2.7 metres it actually measures.
Over long undulations, even higher frequency bumps and ruts, the A-Class remains stable and composed thanks to a thoroughly sorted (strut front, torsion beam rear) suspension, with beautifully progressive damping a particular highlight.
Electromechanically-assisted steering points accurately and delivers good road feel without any undue vibration. And despite the A-Class launch drive loop covering typically coarse-chip bitumen roads through rural Victoria, overall noise levels remained impressively low.
Acceleration is brisk rather than properly sharp, but in the A 200 there’s more than enough oomph to keep things on the boil for easy highway cruising and overtaking.
With maximum torque available from just above 1600rpm, and a seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission keeping revs in the sweet spot, the A 200 breezes through the cut and thrust of city traffic, too.
Auto shifts are smooth and quick, with manual changes via the wheel-mounted paddles adding even more direct access to your ratio of choice. And the bonus is no sign of the slow-speed shuntiness sometimes exhibited by dual-clutch autos, especially in twisting, three-point parking manoeuvres.
Special call-out for the cruise control which responds to adjustments quickly (including 10km/h jumps up or down with a firm press of the thumb) and rapidly retards downhill speeds.
Several unbroken hours in the front seat couldn’t generate a twinge of discomfort, the brakes are strong, and over-shoulder visibility is marginally better than in the hatch (not that it’s a weakness in the latter).
Add the sleek and intuitive multimedia system, high-quality audio, plus excellent ergonomics and you have a neatly resolved compact sedan that’s easy to use in the city and suburbs, keeping solid road-tripping ability up its sleeve as well.
The news is broadly positive right across the range, but we focussed our attention on the top-spec petrol (TFSI S tronic Quattro) which is not just expected to be the biggest seller in the revised A5 Coupe range, but is also by far the closest thing to a happy compromise between the harder S5 and the more sedate and softer entry level models.
With no adaptive suspension anywhere in the A5 family, the standard tune can sail perilously close to uncomfortable on dodgy road surfaces, and it does allow the occasional imperfection to enter the cabin. But it pays off in spades when you find yourself on a twisty road, with the all-wheel drive A5 TFSI S tronic sitting reassuringly flat as you tackle all but the tightest of corners (where it can rock a little as you enter a particularly tight turn). Whether the firm-ish ride becomes a pain on the pockmarked surfaces of the CBD, however, remains to be seen.
The steering in the Quattro isn’t as sharp or direct as it is in the S5 (but it is better than in the front-wheel drive model) and there’s more play on-centre and less precision turning into corners, but away from the back roads and back in the city (where this car will surely spend almost all of its time) that should be a positive, and result in a smooth and composed commuter.
Audi deserves credit for the cabin noise (or lack of it), which is very good, and the razor-thin A-pillar makes forward vision terrific, though the view is predictably less good out the back. It might not be as sharp as the S5, which gets its own unique steering tune and an adaptive damper setup, but the combination of supermodel looks and on-board technology will make it a tempting proposition in the luxe-Coupe market.
Think automotive safety and Mercedes-Benz will be one of the first names to pop into your mind, and the A 180 offers in impressive suite of active features including ABS, BA, EBD, stability and traction controls, a reversing camera (with dynamic guidelines), ‘Active Brake Assist’ (Merc-speak for AEB), ‘Adaptive Brake’, ‘Attention Assist’, ‘Blind Spot Assist’, ‘Cross-wind Assist’, ‘Lane Keep Assist’, a tyre pressure warning system, the ‘Pre-Safe’ accident anticipatory system, and ‘Traffic Sign Assist’. The A 200 adds ‘Adaptive Highbeam Assist’.
If all that fails to prevent an impact you’ll be protected by nine airbags (front, pelvis and window for driver and front passenger, side airbags for rear seat occupants and a driver’s knee bag), and the ‘Active Bonnet’ automatically tilts to minimise pedestrian injuries.
The A-Class was awarded a maximum five ANCAP stars in 2018, and for smaller occupants there are three child restraint/baby capsule top tether points across the back seat, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions.
Expect six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), a reversing camera and parking sensors as standard fare, but Audi then ups the ante with a suite of high-tech standard safety gear, including forward collision warning with AEB cross-path assist and a driver fatigue detection system.
The entire A5 range was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
That lags behind the mainstream market where the majority of players are now at five years/unlimited km, with some at seven years.
On the upside, Mercedes-Benz Road Care assistance is included in the deal for three years.
Service is scheduled for 12 months/25,000km (whichever comes first) with pricing available on an ‘Up-front’ or ‘Pay-as-you-go’ basis.
Pre-payment delivers a $500 saving with the first three A-Class services set at a total of $2050, compared to $2550 PAYG. Fourth and fifth services are also available for pre-purchase.