Going by anecdotal evidence, it would appear that the two-door Audi A5 range has never risen to the sales stardom of the equivalent Mercedes-Benz C-Class. As we can all agree, my conscious effort of noting who's driving what is not enough to build an opinion from.
Taking a look at 2020's figures reveals those suspicions to be true.
Year to date (January to July) figures for 2020 show that 747 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupes and convertibles have reportedly found a home. Since we're on the topic of German two-doors, 228 examples of BMW's outgoing 4 Series have also apparently been homed.
The A5's two-door figure for the same period? 104.
Looking at 2019 tells the same story. For the full year that was, Mercedes-Benz retailed 1423 C-Class two-doors, and BMW 362 renditions of its 4 Series.
Audi's effort? 229.
Me drawing a picture of its performance as third best from a set of three doesn't mean it's bad. In fact, there's a lot to like, and even preference above those other two models.
With the new facelifted version, those reasons just continue to grow depending on the version you're shopping for.
For this test, we'll be driving the 2020 Audi A5 Coupe 45 TFSI quattro S line. The long-winded title translates to this version being the middle of the road for the regular Audi A5 Coupe range. Above this sits the talented Audi S5 Coupe. Below, a front-wheel-drive entry to the range, the A5 40 TFSI S line.
There is an RS 5 model, too, but that's part of the Audi Sport catalogue, and remains a different proposition altogether in terms of both price and performance.
|Engine configuration||In-line 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Power||183kW @ 6500rpm|
|Torque||370Nm @ 1600-4500rpm|
|Power to weight ratio||107kW / tonne|
|Drive||All wheel drive|
|Transmission||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Fuel consumption (combined cycle)||7.1L / 100km|
|Fuel tank size||58L|
The mid-tier 45 TFSI starts from $79,900 before on-roads and options, actually making it the cheapest of the three German offerings. To step into a three-pointed star product with similar credentials, the C300, costs almost $8500 more, or $88,388 to be on the money. BMW's new-generation 4 Series, in 430i M Sport guise, commences from exactly $9000 more at $88,900.
Our test car had a few options that lifted its final cost up. First was its fantastic 'Turbo Blue' exterior paint for $1990, a Premium Plus package for $4900, and an extended upholstery package for $780.
As tested, the price comes in at $87,570. We'll break down some of what that Premium Plus package entails as we go.
From the outside, its design team hasn't messed with the formula too much for the facelift. The front grille has become more prominent, as have the side intake ducts, now more angular, defined, and framed with their own dedicated bezel. Another nice touch is the introduction of three slits below the centre of the bonnet; a considered nod toward the original Audi Quattro from the 1980s.
As for the overall design, now almost four years old, it still holds its own as beautifully simplistic and minimal. You won't see a junction of multiple shut lines and panel gaps all meeting messily with an Audi A5.
Its taut side body crease flows on to what becomes the bonnet shut line, stripping back any commotion from its profile. The A-pillar actually flows down, underneath the front fender, in order to hide a messy juncture of structure and exterior panel.
All of these sparks of design joy are not obvious in the flesh, but what is obvious is a sense of class. Only when you sit back and begin to pick apart its shape and forms, do you really acknowledge the absolute attention to detail that Audi's designers had bestowed on the A5.
The only intricacies and complexity on the outside can be found on our test car's headlights. As part of the Premium Plus package it benefits from Audi laser light, which as the name suggests employs laser modules in its headlights.
In order to give this option some fanfare, its complex headlight array now features a delicate blue strike through it, which illuminates blue at night.
As far as finding intricate details that juxtapose its beautifully simple lines, that's all I got. Even its standard 19-inch twin five-spoke alloy wheels are simple in form.
All in all, it's an improvement on the outgoing car, and doesn't muck around with the basics that it got so right from the outset.
|Boot volume (max)||480L|
|Towing capacity (braked/unbraked)||1700kg / 750kg|
|Wheels/tyres||255/35 R19 (standard wheel size)|
Inside, some things have improved, whereas others, not so much.
My main gripe with the latest Audi interiors is that the brand has put all of its focus, energy and time into the systems found in the higher-end models. This is all well and good for those expensive cars in the range that benefit from the brand's latest human-machine interface, but it comes to the detriment of its bread-and-butter models.
As a consequence of moving towards what the brand calls 'MMI Touch', Audi has done away with any physical controller, or rotary dial, as it used to employ. That makes wonderful sense in the Audi models with the twin-screen system that has both acoustic and haptic feedback.
Where it doesn't make sense is in cars like this Audi A5 that has been downgraded to a simple, basic touchscreen system. The previous system with rotary dial was far easier, and thus much less distracting to use while driving. Despite a backward step in terms of ergonomics, the screen itself is improved. It's now 10.1-inch as standard, and features sharper graphics than before.
The brain that runs the show has also been sharpened, too. Aboard the new A5 45 TFSI is Audi's connected infotainment technology. This means, thanks to a data connection provided by a SIM card, you can browse things like current service station fuel prices, local car park information including pricing, and in some cases current vacant spots.
It's still faster to stop the car, browse your phone and digest that information in such a manner. However, as a system you can legally use while driving, or have its onboard text-to-speech system read things out in the same scenario, it's quite smart.
Everything else is classic Audi. Its digital instrument cluster, still the best execution of such technology in the business, comes as standard, as does a raft of advanced safety systems including both high- and low-speed AEB, rearward-collision warning and rear cross-traffic alert, active lane-keeping assist and lane-changing warning to rattle off a few.
A couple of small things caught me by surprise.
After glancing at the S line logo on the exterior quarter panel, and then again shortly afterward on the illuminated sill trim panel, I think it's fair to say that I felt somewhat conned shortly after entry. What I actually discovered inside, in contrast to what those S line parts led me to believe, was a cheap-looking set of rubber pedals and a general non-S line interior fit-out.
It turns out the car only gets the exterior S line package as standard, and in order to benefit from sporty lashes of S line on the inside, I'd need to pay $6050 for the 'S line sport package'.
In all honesty, calling the interior kit 'S line sport' is equal to saying ATM machine. There's a name for this, and for even more ironic pleasure I'll use its aptly chosen self-referential acronym. It's called RAS syndrome – or redundant acronym syndrome.
Sanctimonious jests aside, the out-of-the-box interior is overall well built and finished with its fair share of quality materials. Despite the aforementioned low-rent pedals and basic-looking steering wheel, the rest is in keeping with the theme of a luxury coupe.
Leather sports seats with electric adjustment, driver's side memory and heating are standard, as are those dream-crushing illuminated S door sill trims and aluminium interior inlays, too, for good measure. The switchgear is all nicely damped and consistently weighted, as we expect from an Audi, and the interior is built to the most exacting standards.
The cabin isn't as roomy as the dimensions suggest, though, with its two front occupants likely to bump elbows as they both try to find homes for each in a pursuit of comfort.
Out in the second row, even with the Premium Plus package's panoramic sunroof, general space remains fair. Ingress into the second row felt smaller than the average for cars in this segment; a point that proved itself to be true when undergoing some stress testing. More on that in a tick.
There's a good amount of head room, as well as knee and toe room, for a grown adult back there. There are even four cupholders on offer to the two rear occupants, suggesting that you too can be a family with a Coupe. (The only people who need two cupholders each are children, for your information.)
After discovering that point, I did the honourable thing and installed the largest baby seat I have into the A5's second row. Given the space on offer there, I wasn't surprised to see that it soaked up the large-framed convertible seat with no fuss. It was a bit of a debacle to get the child seat past the folded front seat, which confirms my initial feeling that the opening to the second row is smaller than average.
If you're game, you could live with it as a young family of three. Just be sure to work on your back and shoulders during the weekly gym or yoga session, as dead-lifting 15kg of child on a frequent basis means you'll likely strain something if you're not somewhat flexible and able-bodied.
Boot space is good at 480L, but using all of the space can be tricky. I loaded up the car with a solid four weeks' worth of groceries, and found myself having to place half my body into the boot to access the section closest to the back seat to utilise all of its space.
Classic coupe things.
Remember what I said earlier about flexibility? Those yoga exploits just came in handy, once again.
Flexibility is a good word to describe the powertrain of this Audi, too, for that matter. The 45 TFSI designation signals the use of a 183kW/370Nm version of the brand's 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine.
That fairly large torque figure is on offer from just 1600rpm through to 4500rpm, which is quite a meaty spread given its relatively small capacity and cylinder count. It feels broad, usable, and swift. The 0–100km/h dash is completed in 5.8-seconds, which feels about right when compared to the overall performance on offer.
The 3000rpm spread of maximum torque is what contributes most to this car's feeling of punchiness. Rolling on the throttle from third or fourth at a decent speed is met with a strong response, and little to no bickering from the tyres thanks to quattro all-wheel drive. Another point that also helps increase its sense of speed is a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Given the combination of wheels driven, which is four, and a small count of cylinders, also four, I wasn't surprised by the fuel figure. During testing it returned a figure of 9.5L/100km versus an official combined figure of 7.1L/100km. That places it over the two-litre threshold of acceptability for my liking.
Don't expect Audi S3 levels of performance, either. Despite closely matched torque outputs, and a similar set of engine and driveline technical specs (on the surface, at least), there's plenty of space to separate the two.
|Options as tested||Metallic paint - $1990|
|Options as tested||Premium plus package $4900(Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, colour ambient lighting, matrix headlights with Audi laser light, panraomiuc sunroof, privacy glass)|
|Options as tested||Extended uplostry package $780 (lower part of tcentre console, door armrets, and door pulls in man-made leather)|
|Price with options (MSRP)||$87,570|
|Servicing 5yr/75,000km||$2820 (via pre-paid service plan)|
|Warranty||3 year / unlimited KM|
Everything's more relaxed, and more chilled, in the Audi A5. The same story goes for its suspension tune. Adaptive dampers are optional at this trim level at a cost of $2340, but our test car was not equipped with them. So, what I can comment on is the quality of the single-stage uprights. They still do a good job of being in control without being ridiculously firm, as some other Audis are.
It definitely leans more toward dynamism than torpidity, and feels more alive and alert than an A4 does. I personally didn't find its firmness to be irritating or annoying, and overall, I enjoyed the experience of the fixed-rate suspension.
When comparing notes, my colleague Rob Margeit found the 20-inch-wheel-equipped car to be just too fidgety for his liking. I am strongly confident that his woes would be solved by a car on 19-inch wheels, as my example had. We're both also interested to test the adaptive units in the future, just to see if they offer anything more. Leave that with us.
As I said at the beginning, there's a lot going for the new Audi A5 Coupe. Definitely enough to think twice about before signing a three-year deal with Mercedes-Benz or BMW on an outgoing two-door 430i.
As for the BMW 4 Series, we'll have to reserve judgment until we get the chance to test the new model locally, which will be in the next few months.