|July 02, 2010
Text and Photos: Kris Hansen
Love at first sight.
Those were my feelings when I first laid my eyes on the A5 coupe 3 years ago in Geneva, at the international launch. You are not likely to encounter many cars on the road today that are able to elicit such strong emotion, if any emotion at all. The A5 is one of those cars that even if you dont really like cars all that much, youre drawn to it; you will be compelled to have a good long look at it, much like a fine painting or sculpture. The A5 truly is a work of art.
I happen to LOVE cars, and feel that the A5 is far and away the best looking coupe Audi have ever produced, and probably one of the best looking coupes on the road today. The proportions of the car, the character lines, and the muscularly sculpted hips all contribute to a very sporty look. Add a set of 19 wheels and fat tires, and the car exudes sportiness. Our car had the optional sport suspension and 19 5 spoke wheels, which bring the car a bit closer to the asphalt, and fills the fender arches seemingly to capacity. Switch on the ignition, and the LED driving lights fire up, and the whole thing turns a little menacing. When an A5 appears in your mirrors, you feel compelled to move on over, if for no other reason, to get a better look at the car as it goes past.
New for 2010 is the 2.0TFSI in the A5. Just like in the A4, we really liked this engine in the A5, especially when mated with the 6 speed manual. With 256lb/ft of torque available at an ultra-low 1500rpm (continuing on to 4300prm) and maxing out at 211hp, there is plenty of grunt to make the A5 quick out of the hole, and quick out of corners. This car is a true joy to drive on twisty roads. Given all of the torque the engine produces, corner exit speeds are excellent with the A5. Its also incredibly easy to drive quickly; the car can be left in a specific gear and the engine will grunt the car along. This is not an engine that forces the driver to constantly row through the gears to keep the engine on boil. Relaxed driving is completely effortless, truly a joy in fact.
Handling balance is excellent, cornering attitude stays very neutral right up to the bleeding edge of traction, where understeer begins. Turn off the ESP, and advanced drivers can steer with the throttle by backing out and allowing the weight transfer to lighten the rear and help the car rotate into the corner. The A5 is a true drivers car, with very precise, very predictable handling traits. This is one of those cars where it seems like its reading your mind. It reacts to direction changes immediately.
Of course, people dont only buy Audis for the grunt of the engine, or the crispness of the handling. Audi is widely renowned for producing some of the finest automotive interiors in the business, and it should come as no surprise that the A5s interior is a supremely comfortable environment to spend time watching miles fly by. The seats are wonderfully supportive and comfortable; all controls are perfectly within reach. Our car had the awesomely intuitive MMI system, which puts all of the controls for the audio, sat nav, telephone, and various other special car functions at your fingertips directly aft of the shift lever. With the 3rd generation NAV, users have the option to scroll around the map and either find alternate routes, add stopovers, find gas stations or other items in the vicinity such as restaurants and theaters. It is actually very handy.
Other nice features, such as rain sensing wipers, reversing sensors and camera, excellent lights with Auto on/off, bluetooth for phone pairing, voice commands, homelink garage door openers, they all add to the package. Yes, they are not really required, no they don’t add to the performance, but honestly, they just make the car nicer to live with on a daily basis.
The back seats are a little snug, though is very possible to have moderately normal sized adults back there, and the seats themselves are surprisingly comfortable. Parents with small children will rethink their decision to buy a coupe the first time they need to remove a sleeping child from the clutches of the said seats however.
Access to the rear seats is made easy by some of the coolest features weve ever seen on a coupe. Tip the front seat backrest forward, and tap the seat fore/aft adjustment button on adjacent to the seat back release handle, and the front seat will slide itself all the way forward. Then, you can put the seat back in its normal position, and use the same button to slide the front seat back, little by little, till your rear seat passenger has just enough room. One other neat feature we noticed related to this process, the front seat headrests are electrically operated by sliding the seatback adjuster up or down vertically. When the seatback is leaned forward, the headrest automatically lowers, to avoid interference with the headliner. Very cool, and thoughtful!
We really like all of the little things that the A5 does to make the driving process more comfortable and fun for the driver and passengers. Unfortunately, there are some things we didnt like all that much. The seatbelts are not vertically adjustable, and dug into several drivers necks. Also, the enormous glass moonroof, it doesnt open very far at all (it only tips up about an inch). We wonder why it couldnt be arranged to slide outside of the body like some other cars (A3, Q5, Q7)? In any event, if you want to feel the wind in your hair, youll want the Cabriolet version.
But those are the only real gripes we noted during our time with the A5. We loved the warm and inviting interior, we loved the flexible and somewhat frugal 2.0TFSI engine, we loved the hugely confidence inspiring handling and comfortable ride, and we REALLY loved the way it looked.
After all, the A5 is one of those cars that you just love to look at. You find yourself looking at it all the time, any chance you get. After youve parked and walked away from it a bit, you keep looking over your shoulder at it. You look at your reflection in storefront windows and tanker trucks. You smile at the approving nods you receive from other motorists.
You know how those other drivers feel, you felt it too, the first time you laid eyes on the A5.