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Audi A5
7/10

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Road Test

Audi A5 3.0-litre TDI SE driven

Driven November 2011

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If you ever hear anyone lazily accusing the car industry of refusing to move with the times, swiftly slap them round the head and then hit them with this fact - when the Audi A5 was launched just four years ago, its 187bhp, 2.7-litre V6 diesel engine returned an entirely respectable 44.1mpg and emitted 157g/km of CO2. The 3.0-litre V6 that replaces it in the facelifted A5 produces 14bhp more power for 23 per cent less carbon dioxide, and goes 30 per cent further on a tank of fuel. If airlines were cleaning up their act with similar speed, you'd be able to fly to New York on a pipette of plane fuel by now.

So, yes, it's time for the A5's midlife refresh and eco-polish. Visually, the A5 coupe, cabrio and Sportbacks have been, to use Audi's phrase, ‘resculpted' with a new front end and LED clusters. In truth, you'd need to put the old and new cars side-by-side to tell for sure. No problem there: the A5 has always been one of the best-looking Audis, so the designers have clearly stuck to the Status Quo mantra of not messing with a tried-and-tested formula.

More work has been done under the bonnet. Though the other engines' eco-upgrades aren't quite so spectacular as the V6 diesel's, they're all bad news for the government's road-tax kitty. A new 168bhp, 1.8-litre turbo petrol that does 50mpg and 134g/km of CO2 manages to stay just the right side of underpowered, but most will opt for the diesels, the cheapest of which - the 175bhp 2.0-litre four-pot - is good for 60mpg and just 122g/kmof CO2. If you can stretch the extra couple of grand to that 3.0-litre V6, we'd recommend you do: it nearly matches the smaller diesel on economy and emissions, but offers up a useful slug of extra torque.

The other headline change here is a new electro-mechanical power steering system, which saves a couple of mpgs by not using power when the wheels are facing straight. It feels little different. The A5 never had the most feelsome steering, and the new system is no worse: still accurate and quick enough, still a bit remote. There's no mention of any improvements to one of our pet Audi hates - the Multitronic CVT gearbox - but changes must have been made at some stage, because it's far more unobtrusive now than it used to be.

So, a raft of minor tweaks keeps the A5 right at the head of the coupe pack. Efficient stuff, Audi.

Sam Philip

We like: Great engines, slick lines
We don't like: Doesn't handle as well as a 3-Series
The  verdict: Nuts'n'bolts facelift makes the A5 greener and sleeker than ever.
Performance: 0-62mph in 7.1secs, max 146mph, 57.6mpg
Tech: 2967cc, V6, FWD, 201bhp, 295lb ft, 1565kg, 129g/km CO2
Tick this on the options list: Bang & Olufsen speakers, £565
And avoid this: Beaufort Oak wood trim, £TBC

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