Age­ing grace­fully

One of the old­est Audis still shows im­pres­sive form

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - PAUL POT­TINGER CARS­GUIDE EDI­TOR paul.pot­tinger@news.com.au

SOME of us when we think of Audi see in our mind’s eye not a Volk­swa­gen-de­rived SUV or hatch­back but some­thing more like that shown here.

That the A5 coupe is, next the out­go­ing TT, the old­est car with four rings on the nose says much for the ver­i­ties of a clas­si­cal coupe. We’ve seen four prime min­is­ters since the A5 lobbed in 2007, but the Wal­ter da Sil­vade­signed two-door en­dures.

Though er­gonom­i­cally chal­leng­ing even by coupe stan­dards (writer Michael Stahl called it “not a 2+2, but a two plus lug­gage”) the ex­te­rior lines are ev­ery­thing, and to these eyes they are all right. With a re­place­ment more than 12 months off (a new A4 sedan will pro­ceed it), the A5 has been tarted up with a limited edi­tion S line Com­pe­ti­tion pack.

Deeply su­per­fi­cial ad­di­tions to the usual pro­duc­tion car in­clude 20-inch wheels, duck­tail spoiler and a yet more pleas­ant than usual in­te­rior trim. Of greater sub­stance are the stan­dard fix­tures in­clud­ing xenon lights, nav­i­ga­tion plus with 20GB hard drive and voice con­trol, rear cam­era and park­ing sen­sors. But no USB port? That shows its age.

In­cre­men­tally dearer than the stan­dard is­sue A5 2.0 TFSI quat­tro (Audi’s nomen­cla­ture re­mains as clumsy as its cars are vis­ually strik­ing), the pric­ing is fairly delu­sional. This A5 is barely less ex­pen­sive than BMW’s near new 428i and sub­stan­tially dearer than the brand new M235i — with its turbo straight six, the best BMW of the decade to date.

Audi would cavil that the lat­ter is a smaller car and there­fore hardly com­pa­ra­ble but would be wrong. The dif­fer­ence is to be found in its char­ac­ter. Though more ag­ile than the big­ger en­gined but blunter A5s, the 2.0 TFSI is still more a grand tourer, a weight watcher’s mus­cle car, than an out­right sports car.

Part of that is de­fault. Steer­ing that lacks both weight and feel is Audi’s spe­cial­ity, yet the 2.0-litre turbo four present here is lighter in the nose than the su­per­charged petrol or turbo diesel V6s that power more ex­pen­sive A5s. Even on 20s the ride is markedly bet­ter than the first run A5s we tried with their unerring abil­ity to scrape chins on ev­ery drive­way and speed bump.

The 0-100kmh sprint time of 6.4 sec­onds im­presses no one 6-speed man, 7-speed dual-clutch auto; AWD

6.6L-6.7L/100km but the un­flus­tered man­ner in which the A5 achieves it does.

Even in the man­ual ver­sion that no one will want, as op­posed to the S-tronic twin­clutch auto, power down is never a prob­lem, all-paw trac­tion en­sur­ing lin­ear move­ment off the mark that few equally pow­er­ful rear-drive cars can man­age with­out flar­ing trac­tion con­trol warn­ing lights.

VER­DICT

Age­less beauty.

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