Renowned car designer Walter de Silva described the Audi A5 as his most beautiful creation when the coupe launched back in 2007.
As such, it’s perhaps not surprising there’s only an evolutionary change to the A5 two-door - along with its range stablemates the A5 Sportback and A5 Cabriolet – as Audi aims to turn out pockets by turning heads.
The Audi A5 remains elegantly sporty, though for the mid-life makeover for the German brand’s A4-based glamour model there’s more emphasis on sportiness than elegance.
Up front, the headlights have a more tapered, wedge-shaped profile and combine with sleeker foglights and revised air intakes to give the visual impression of a wider stance on the road.
There are also tweaks to the tail-lights and rear bumper, and wheel options now include a set of fancy turbine-inspired alloys.
Audi has also chiselled away at the starting price for all A5 body styles, a move enabled by the introduction of a new 1.8-litre petrol engine.
The Audi A5 1.8 TFSI model costs from $66,900 for the coupe and Sportback, cutting $3500 and $2000 respectively from the previous entry-level 2.0 TFSI model it replaces.
Entry to the Audi A5 Cabriolet drops $2400 to $78,500.
It’s hardly a sacrifice having to make do with the slightly smaller-capacity engine.
The 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder turns out 125kW of power and 320Nm of torque, which is enough to achieve acceleration from 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds (manual gearbox) according to Audi.
More importantly, the engine feels strong on the move, delivering as much performance as most drivers will ever need. The engine cranks out its maximum torque to the front wheels between 1400 and 3700rpm, with peak power arriving just 100rpm later at 3800rpm and maintained until 6200rpm.
It’s no wonder then that performance – as we experienced in the A5 Sportback variant – feels quite effortless, with power delivered in a pleasantly linear and refined fashion.
Audi’s ‘multitronic’ CVT (continuously variable transmission) also continues to be the best of the oft-criticised breed. There’s a detectable subtle whine from the stepless auto but none of the dreaded droning typically encountered with other CVTs.
It’s also smoother in low-speed driving than the dual-clutch S-tronic (a rebadge of VW’s DSG system) mated to the carry-over 155kW 2.0-litre turbo (though this remains an enjoyable feisty, rev-happy motor).
If you’re in the mood, the CVT also comes with eight faux ratios that you can switch between via the tipshift gearlever.
CVTs have been introduced primarily by manufacturers to help eek out even more efficiency through their optimisation of engine revs.
And combined with a (quick-starting) engine stop-start system, the Audi A5 coupe and Sportback use a claimed best-in-class 5.8 litres of fuel per 100km on the official cycle.
The CVT is equally effective in the new base diesel A5, the 2.0 TDI that borrows its engine from the Audi A6 range to become the first four-cylinder diesel in the A5 range.
It’s another brilliant engine. The 4.7L/100km official fuel consumption figure will please those looking to save more at the bowser, but the engine’s driveability is arguably more satisfying.
There’s a creamy power delivery from the engine that produces 130kW at 4200rpm and 380Nm from 1750-2500rpm, and it’s also remarkably quiet – especially compared to Mercedes-Benz’s rival compression-ignition four-cylinders.
The launch was too short to try all of the many variants, though other engine changes include a new 3.0 TFSI petrol that replaces the 3.2 FSI, a 3.0 TDI, and the S5 coupe swaps the old 4.2-litre normally aspirated for the supercharged V6 already found in the S5 Sportback and Cabriolet.
(The updated RS5 arrives about mid-year.)
Unsurprisingly, Audi acknowledges engines are the big story for the new A5, with marked improvements in torque and consumption across the range.
There are some revisions to the rear suspension and damper tuning all round, though the A5 continues to be saddled with the inherent chassis issues of the A4 on which it is founded.
Whether you’re driving the A5 coupe or Sportback, the restless ride is a source of frustration on typical Australian roads. It’s still slightly fidgety even on seemingly smoother surfaces.
Dynamically, the A5, while certainly competent in corners and likely to be sufficiently sporty for many, remains no match for the driver involvement offered by the BMW 3-Series – a gap widened by the new, sixth-generation Bimmer.
You’re not losing out especially, though, if you opt for front-wheel-drive models – which feature an electronic limited front differential to help minimise understeer – over the all-wheel-drive quattros.
A new electro-hydraulic steering rack, which saves 0.3L/100km by not expending any energy when in the straight-ahead position, has brought more consistency and accuracy from lock to lock, but the system remains disappointingly numb.
It’s worse with the optional Dynamic steering, a set up where the steering ratio varies according to the speed at which you’re travelling. With Comfort mode selected with Audi’s Drive Select system – which alters various vehicle settings – is overly light and has about as much feel as a PlayStation steering wheel set.
The heaviness introduced by switching to Dynamic setting only compounds the artificial sensation, and drivers will find themselves fiddling about more with little steering inputs than they would on C-Class or 3-Series models.
There are other welcome hand-me-downs from the bigger, more expensive Audis that become available for the first time.
Technology includes blind spot monitoring, Bluetooth audio streaming, driver drowsiness detection, active cruise control that can automatically brake to a standstill from up to 30km/h if an imminent collision is detected, and an Active Lane Assist that now shakes the steering wheel if audible warnings are ignored if the A5 wonders across lane markings without indication
(The system will even automatically ‘guide’ the A5 between clear lane markings – if you’re brave enough to let it!)
The MMI (multimedia system) gains a new interface, updated phone system, and fewer buttons but more configurations.
The stylish, high-quality cabin also gets some subtle trim, switchgear and design enhancements.
The Sportback variant also continues to offer a more stylish offering to a conventional A4 sedan, with genuine space in the rear plus hatchback practicality.
The automatic gearlever is also a new design, similar to the ‘yacht thrust lever’ that debuted in the flagship Audi A8.
Yet while ride quality issues mean it’s not as plain sailing in the Audi A5 as it should be, the range is still more attractive than ever – and not just visually.
Audi A5 range: Manufacturer’s List Pricing (excl on road costs)
|Audi A5 Sportback 1.8 TFSI multitronic||125||$66,900||5.9|
|Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI multitronic||130||$68,700||4.8|
|Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI quattro manual||155||$80,900||6.8|
|Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic||155||$83,200||7.0|
|Audi A5 Sportback 3.0 TDI quattro S tronic||180||$95,900||5.7|
|Audi A5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI quattro S tronic||200||$100,800||8.1|
|Audi S5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI S tronic||245||$135,900||8.1|
|Audi A5 Coupe 1.8 TFSI multitronic||125||$66,900||5.8|
|Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI multitronic||130||$68,700||4.7|
|Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TFSI quattro manual||155||$80,900||6.8|
|Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic||155||$83,200||7.0|
|Audi A5 Coupe 3.0 TDI quattro S tronic||180||$95,900||5.7|
|Audi A5 Coupe 3.0 TFSI quattro S tronic||200||$100,800||8.1|
|Audi S5 Coupe 3.0TFSI quattro S tronic||245||$135,900||8.1|
|Audi A5 Cabriolet 1.8 TFSI multitronic||125||$78,500||6.2|
|Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TDI multitronic||130||$80,900||5.0|
|Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic||155||$96,900||7.2|
|Audi A5 Cabriolet 3.0 TDI quattro S tronic||180||$108,800||5.9|
|Audi A5 Cabriolet 3.0 TFSI quattro S tronic||200||$112,900||8.5|
|Audi S5 Cabriolet 3.0 TFSI S tronic||245||$146,500||8.5|