Sunday 4 December 2016

Less adds up to a lot more A5

The revamped Audi A5 range is leaner, meaner and a whole lot greener, and comes with a long list of costly extras, writes Philip Hedderman

Published 11/09/2011 | 05:00

THE term "less is more" is not something you'd expect to hear from a car manufacturer, especially a luxury marque such as Audi.

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But that's exactly how the German outfit is tagging the mid-life refit of the mega-successful A5.

And believe me, the Vorsprung Durch Technik gang don't do things in half-measures. Not only is each model tweaked outside and inside -- it also gets three new power plants straight out of the A6.

The less bit of the equation is in terms of CO2 emissions, which see the Irish versions fine-tuned to become leaner, meaner and a whole lot greener.

The more part is grunt -- squeezing extra power from the 1.8-litre TFSi petrol (170 bhp hitting 0-100kmh in just 8 seconds) and a punchier 2.0-litre, 4 pot TDi (177 bhp).

For those who like to live a little more dangerously there is the 3.0-litre TDi and the monster all-wheel drive Quattro (204 and 245bhp respectively).

But we all know the magic numbers are the ones relating to the VRT bands and this is where Audi has achieved its biggest triumph.

The petrol 1.8 has emissions of just 134g/km, which translates into road tax of just €156 a year while returning just over 40 mpg or 5.6l/100km. It's even better news for the oil-burning 2.0 TDI, which keeps its cough down to 120g/km -- residing in Band A with €104 a year tax and over 50mpg.

This has earned Audi a top spot in the coupe segment.

For the A5 Sportback and the Cabriolet, a version of the 2.0 TDI generating 143 bhp will be coming on stream soon but the 177bhp is sure to be Ireland's favourite.

Launched in 2007, the Coupe and Cabrio burst on to the scene oozing sex appeal, but it was the versatility of the five-door coupe with long tailgate that captured the imagination.

Looking at the new offering, it was plain to see that the designers accentuated what was attractive about the Sportback. The trademark LED headlamps are more pronounced, as are the rear eyebrows. It is more squat to the ground and looks longer and lower, almost crouching . . . ready to pounce.

Inside, a bit of de-cluttering has taken place and the dash has been simplified, making it a little less intimidating.

Drive-wise, it is sublime. Thanks to the extra power and torque, the ride is firmer, steadier and the electronic steering connects the pilot to every curve, bump and bend.

The Coupe is the daddy, though -- a proper two-door for the more mature, well-rounded of us wins the day for comfort, style and performance.

Needless to say, the press cars had more extras than Ben Hur but that didn't cloud our judgement.

Standard kit on the new A5 range includes Stop Start, Cruise Control, air con, rear parking sensors, leather multi-function steering wheel and front and rear LED daytime driving lights.

But hey, everything can't be perfect and there are a few niggles. The suspension in the Sportback is a little spongy but the engineers have done that deliberately to give a softer ride (for families).

Driving with the hammer down, it does get a bit jittery, but not enough to deter you from buying -- it pretty much does what it says on the tin.

The diesel is heavier and comes with a lot more torque, making it easier to control.

The biggest gripe of all is the Audi extras list which is endless. In fact, you could throw €10,000 of goodies on to her and not even notice. Bluetooth is an outrageous extra €250. The xenon lights -- which are synonymous with the brand -- are only standard on the 47k coupe.

The new model is €300 more expensive than the outgoing model, but you'll save that on road tax and fuel consumption in the first year

Yet overall, the experience is equal to that of the BMW 5 series which, for the first time in years, has a serious contender for the mid-range executive crown.

Due in showrooms by November, prices for the A5 range start at €39,525.

Sunday Independent

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