MO­TOR­ING

The two-door vari­ant of In­gol­stadt’s bril­liant A4 sa­loon is here with slightly sharper lines, more tech and a re­fined cabin. wheels’ Sony Thomas promptly takes it for a spin

Friday - - Contents -

Lighter, faster, sharper… Audi’s A5 is one of the best in its cat­e­gory. But looks-wise, it’s an­other story.

In most walks of life, less is al­ways less and more is al­ways more. It’s mostly the case in the au­to­mo­bile world as well. How­ever, when it comes to the num­ber of doors in a car, strangely, less is al­ways more. A two-door vari­ant of a four-door car is in­vari­ably con­sid­ered more stylish and at­trac­tive. And, above all, it projects the im­pres­sion of a sportier drive, which is mostly the case as well.

This is why, de­spite many com­pro­mises that have to be made in the case of a coupé com­pared to its four-door sib­ling, al­most ev­ery main­stream au­tomaker from BMW and Mercedes to Lexus and In­finiti makes a two-door vari­ant for their pop­u­lar sa­loons. Our test car this week is one such, and it starts off with a dis­tinct ad­van­tage. The Audi A5 couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter tem­plate than the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion A4. Lighter, faster, sharper to drive and boast­ing one of the best four-cylin­der en­gines in its class, the new A4 out­classed the Jaguar XE, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Cadil­lac ATS in a group test we did nearly a year ago.

Our tester doesn’t come with the same 252bhp, 370Nm turbo four-pot. In­stead the 40 TFSI model gets the less pow­er­ful ver­sion of the 2.0-litre block, which, mated to a seven-speed dual clutch au­to­matic, churns out 190bhp and 320Nm of torque. Although rel­a­tively lower on out­put fig­ures, the base en­gine’s real-world per­for­mance is im­pres­sive enough, with sur­pris­ingly re­mark­able amounts of twist at your dis­posal from lower down the rev band. In fact, the base A5’s out­stand­ing per­for­mance will be more than suf­fi­cient for the ma­jor­ity of buy­ers in this seg­ment, and only those who are par­tic­u­lar about own­ing range­top­ping mod­els or those who can’t do with­out all-paw grip need to look at the A5 45 TFSI or V6-pow­ered S5.

There are four drive modes, Eco, Nor­mal, Dy­namic and In­di­vid­ual. I rec­om­mend leav­ing it in Dy­namic as it keeps the sus­pen­sion firm enough and the steer­ing sharp enough with­out com­pro­mis­ing on ride qual­ity or re­fine­ment. And it’s handy that once Dy­namic is cho­sen, it doesn’t de­fault back to Nor­mal as it does in many cars. Se­lect it be­fore you drive out of the show­room and for­get it. Steer­ing is crisp in its re­sponse with sat­is­fac­tory

lev­els of feed­back, but isn’t quite as pre­cise as the one in the BMW 4 Se­ries or even Audi’s TT coupé. But over­all, the A5 of­fers plenty of fun be­hind its wheel, and of­fers enough grip to han­dle the lim­its of its power out­put.

Get­ting into a com­fort­able po­si­tion be­hind the wheel is also easy with myr­iad seat and steer­ing wheel ad­just­ment op­tions and a per­fectly con­toured seat that can be fur­ther fine-tuned for ad­di­tional lum­bar sup­port. The cabin de­sign and lay­out are el­e­gant and sim­ple, as in ev­ery other model from In­gol­stadt. Ma­te­ri­als used and build qual­ity are top-notch and it’s a much bet­ter space to be in than the cab­ins of com­pa­ra­ble Mercedes or BMW mod­els. Audi’s MMI in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is an­chored by a 7.0in in­ter­face placed on the cen­tre of the dash­board and con­trolled via a ro­tary dial on the cen­tre con­sole.

A dig­i­tal Vir­tual Cock­pit with a 12.3in screen be­hind the steer­ing wheel re­places the con­ven­tional in­stru­ment clus­ter. It also comes with a raft of tech fea­tures as stan­dard in­clud­ing park­ing aid with rear-view cam­era, front-, side- and cur­tain airbags, three-zone air con­di­tion­ing, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing and stop­start sys­tem. Our test car comes equipped with op­tional ex­tras such as the vir­tual cock­pit, three-spoke flat-bot­tom leather steer­ing wheel and MMI nav­i­ga­tion with touch func­tion.

The only as­pect where the new A5 is a bit un­der­whelm­ing is its looks. De­spite the re­vised grille, op­tional LED head­lights, a crisper shoul­der line and the S Line ex­te­rior pack­age, the A5 isn’t as strik­ing in its ap­pear­ance as its ri­vals. This could work well for some­one who wants a sporty pre­mium coupé but likes to shun flam­boy­ance. If you fall into that cat­e­gory, the new A5 war­rants se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion with prices start­ing at a rea­son­able Dh187,600.

Lighter, faster, SHARPER to drive and boast­ing one of the best four­cylin­der en­gines in its class, the new A4 OUT­CLASSED the Jaguar XE, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Cadil­lac ATS in our group test

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While the LED lights and new grille add char­ac­ter to the front, its ri­vals have the ad­van­tage in the looks de­part­ment

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