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Sunday Times - - MOTORING - @Tom­falkiner111

HE world of the sporty coupé is much like the world of mu­sic. On one side of the spec­trum you’ve got The Ra­mones: tech­ni­cally not all that great (prob­a­bly an un­der­state­ment) but base and ex­cit­ing. Al­though their 1979 hit I Wanna Be Se­dated con­tains only three ma­jor chords, it can whip you into a frenzy of ex­cite­ment. It makes you shout and yell and fist-pump.

In this light you could say that the Ford Mus­tang is The Ra­mones of the cur­rent coupé crop: rough around the edges, some­what sim­plis­tic, but mas­sively en­ter­tain­ing — es­pe­cially the tyre-slay­ing 5.0 V8 model.

Walk out of CBGB, wan­der down the street and you’ll no doubt find a jazz club: a sanc­tu­ary for those who put tech­ni­cal skill above all else. In this sup­pos­edly more re­fined lo­cale show­man­ship is noth­ing if you can’t de­liver with your in­stru­ment of choice. And up on that stage is the new Audi A5: Wes Mont­gomery to the Mus­tang’s Johnny Ra­mone.

Mont­gomery was all about pre­ci­sion and, man, so is this Audi. From the way the sheet metal has been shaped and pieced to­gether down to those al­most mi­cro­scopic panel gaps, this is a ma­chine that ex­udes Teu­tonic so­lid­ity. It looks fan­tas­tic too. The A5 has al­ways been some­thing of a peach and this sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion model builds upon its pre­de­ces­sor with a cou­ple of evo­lu­tion­ary de­sign tweaks. More pro­nounced wheel arches, that

The blend of low-speed com­fort and high-speed body con­trol is im­pres­sive, writes

new Audi sin­gle-frame ra­di­a­tor grille as well as those al­most sharp-to-the-touch bon­net strakes all make A5 ver­sion 2.0 one damn de­sir­able piece of road-gob­bling equip­ment. It’s invit­ing. It wants you to climb in­side and drive. And when you do, you don’t want to stop.

With a more spa­cious in­te­rior cour­tesy of a longer wheel­base, the A5 is per­haps the best Gran Turismo un­der the R1-mil­lion leather, au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol, heated seats and a smart­phone in­ter­face as stan­dard. Ex­cept here they are not. They’re all op­tional ex­tras and com­bine to add a hefty chunk of moolah onto the al­ready heady ask­ing price: my test car cost R225k more than stan­dard. Yep: ouch.

Some­thing I can’t crit­i­cise, how­ever, is the ride qual­ity. In keep­ing with those GT vibes, my A5 sel­dom felt flus­tered by poor sur­faces. Which is pretty in­cred­i­ble con­sid­er­ing it was fit­ted with (again op­tional) 18-inch al­loy wheels and sports sus­pen­sion. I don’t know how the Audi en­gi­neers man­aged to get it right but the blend of low-speed com­fort and high-speed body con­trol is most im­pres­sive. Again, this makes the A5 the per­fect tool in which to de­mol­ish long dis­tances. Han­dling? Be­ing equipped with the firm’s famed Qu­at­tro all-wheel drive, my test car ripped through cor­ners with a pre­dictably neu­tral surety.

Even in the rain and on greasy sur­faces this coupé never seems short of grip. Prob­a­bly be­cause those wide(ish) 245/40 pro­file tyres don’t re­ally have all that much mus­cle to deal with.

Al­though hav­ing said this I was im­pressed at the de­cep­tive amount of pace the 2.0 TFSI is ca­pa­ble of turn­ing. Of­ten I’d glance down at the speedo and see I was trav­el­ling 40km/h faster than what I had es­ti­mated. Again, this is all thanks to the near fa­nat­i­cal lev­els of re­fine­ment.

Noise. Vi­bra­tion. Harsh­ness? These au­to­mo­tive evils have al­most all been burnt away: in the new A5 you feel near on to­tally iso­lated from the raw asphalt pass­ing be­neath your but­tocks.

Now, as com­mend­able as this may be, it un­for­tu­nately doesn’t make for a par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing or in­volv­ing driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. There are times in which the A5 feels, to be bru­tally blunt, cata­ton­i­cally bor­ing.

This is an au­to­mo­bile that can, much like an exquisitely tal­ented jazz en­sem­ble, eas­ily alien­ate an au­di­ence with its tech­ni­cal ge­nius. Un­for­tu­nately in its re­lent­less pur­suit of per­fec­tion Audi has ne­glected that one key in­gre­di­ent so es­sen­tial in a car largely built for per­sonal in­dul­gence: fun.

But maybe you like this? Maybe you pre­fer the flaw­less de­liv­ery and al­most clin­i­cal tech­nique of Wes Mont­gomery to the raw, cranked-up-to-11 sex­u­al­ity of The Ra­mones? If so then the new Audi A5 will most cer­tainly be mu­sic to your ears. LS

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