24 February 2007

Give me five

Audi's Geneva-bound A5 targets BMW 3-Series Coupe

Audi A5

Following a slightly embarrassing photographic leak this week, Audi has released full details of its new A5 coupe well in advance of its Geneva debut.

The information confirms what we suspected - that the A5 will firmly target the BMW 3-Series Coupe when it goes on sale this March.

Based on a brand new Audi platform, the A5 will share most of its underpinnings with the new A4, which should arrive at the end of this year.

Although Audi is hailing the A5 as a bold step to its future styling direction, we can't help feeling a bit underwhelmed by its looks.

When Audi launched the original TT, it felt like a car that could change the world, but the design of the A5 just seems derivative and uninspired.

Those unchallenging looks should mask some pretty serious performance, though. Top of the range will be the S5 - the car in the bottom two photos - with a naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 delivering 354bhp.

With a six-speed manual 'box putting the power through all four wheels, that's enough to propel it to 62mph in a fraction over five seconds, which definitely puts the S5 in BMW M3 league.

The S5 gets a few cosmetic pointers too, with 18-inch alloys, a quad exhaust and boot lid spoiler, as well as exaggerated door-sill trims.

Until a 170bhp 1.8 TFSI option arrives in the autumn, the only other petrol engine available to the standard A5 will be a 3.2-litre FSI.

A slightly more powerful variation of the V6 found in the current A4, it develops 265bhp and - mated to a six-speed manual 'box  - will dispatch 62mph in 6.1 seconds.

Two V6 turbodiesels - a 2.7- and 3.0-litre - complete the engine line-up. The bigger diesel gets a manual 'box and all-wheel drive, while the smaller unit has to make do with front-wheel drive and the option of Audi's Multitronic auto 'box.

Audi will be taking orders for the A5 when it's officially unveiled at the Geneva motor show.

Prices haven't been confirmed yet, but our Audi source said the A5 should start at around £30,000 with the first orders reaching our shores in June.

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