What is it?
This is a zeitgeist car if ever there was one. It’s more expensive than the Audi A4 it’s based on, offers fewer doors and less space, yet still people are clamouring to get into it. You can’t help but feel Audi’s success has taught BMW a trick or two: word is, the next 3-Series Coupe is to become a bespoke 4-Series, rather than a two-door derivative. Oh, and if you do need four doors, Audi has an A5 solution here too: the A5 Sportback.
The A5 got smarter still last year, with a discreet but inclusive facelift. The new headlights and bumpers may be hard to spot (despite the distinctive new LED daytime running lights) but it’s far clearer where the benefits are below the surface: the engines are faster, smoother and greener.
The A5 isn’t about sporting motoring or doorhandle thrills. Feedback has never been its strong suit, even if you do choose the Audi Drive Select suspension-tuning pack. This goes from soft to (very) hard but misses out on involving. Don’t worry about the new fuel-saving electric power steering though, for it feels little different. As in, it’s still remote, albeit accurate and quick enough.
The big news is under the bonnet. A new 1.8-litre turbo is the interesting one on the petrol side – it gains 10bhp yet is also significantly more economical. But diesel is where (literally) the power is. The 2.0-litre TDI gets a bit more power but it’s the new 3.0-litre V6 TDI that you really want. Replacing the old 2.7-litre V6 is an engine that is 14 percent more powerful, yet 30 percent more economical. In either of its two power outputs, it is torquey, smooth and creamy.
On the inside
Audi had BMW licked with the former A5 interior. This enhanced one widens the gap over the 3-Series with, though it’s barely believable, even higher quality and neater detailing. New steering wheels, trim materials and colours all help lift what was already a class-leading interior. The MMI system has been simplified too. It’s strictly a four-seater though: if usability is all, you need the A5 Sportback. After all, that’s why Audi offers it...
The lower-CO2 engines in the facelifted A5 are all bad news. For the government’s road tax kitty. The fully stop-start-equipped A5 range is a very green line-up of cars indeed. It’s premium-priced, of course, but Audi’s trim lines are generous, meaning you don’t have to spend too much on the options list. Good job: it is both extensive and makes it easy to add five-figure sums to the price. Seriously. And that won’t be good for the otherwise-impressive retained values boasted by the A5.