AUDI has pulled the covers off its second-generation Audi A5, revealing a new look for the mid-size executive coupe that is, well, arguably not as handsome as the one it replaces.
Wearing a face that closely resembles the fifth-generation A4, and even sharing some of its looks with the third-gen Audi TT, any makeover of the A5 was always going to be a tough ask – the previous version of the mid-size executive coupe was described by its creator, former Audi head of design Walter de Silva, as the most beautiful car in the world.
Lighter, sitting on a longer wheelbase, more fuel-efficient and crammed with advanced driver-assist technology, the new A5 will go on sale in Europe late this year, arriving in Australia by mid-2017 to take on two-door rivals including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, BMW 4 Series and Lexus RC.
The A5’s redesigned body has shed up to 60 kilograms compared with the model it replaces.
Its sides are now more heavily defined via a sharply creased shoulder running along its length, while the trapezoidal grille sits lower and deeper, framed by the same headlights used for the Audi TT sports coupe. The guards bulge around the wheels, while the mirrors move from the corners of the glasshouse to the door-top shoulders “like a racing car” to give it a more dynamic stance, Audi says.
The most noticeable change between generations is the bonnet. Heavily straked to create an impression of power, it takes cues from the Audi Prologue concept revealed at the Los Angeles motor show in 2014, and taken a step further in 2015 with a shooting brake version revealed at the 2015 Geneva motor show. Chrysler Crossfire, anyone?
Something we’re keen to experience is the new A5’s focus on dynamics, which Audi is keen to talk up. “Its newly developed steering features a direct ratio, responds spontaneously and provides precise road feedback,” Audi claims. “The A5 winds its way nimbly through tight curves.”
Helping on this front are the A5’s significantly improved torsional rigidity, what Audi claims is a class-leading drag coefficient, and redesigned suspension offering more comfort, but with the option of damper control that “switches its focus at the push of a button from comfort to sporty dynamics”.
The new A5 will launch in Germany with two turbocharged petrol engines and three diesels, including a 3.0-litre V6, with performance jumping by up to 17 percent compared with the models they replace, and fuel efficiency jumping by up to 22 percent.
The range-topping S5 – until the wraps inevitably come off an RS5 replacement – will stick with its existing supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine, which jumps from 245kW to 260kW while torque lifts from 440Nm to a nicely rounded 500Nm. The 0-100km/h sprint for the new S5 comes down to 4.7 seconds, a significant 0.4sec improvement over the superseded model.
The S5 again employs Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system paired with a sports-tuned suspension. Interestingly, Audi has alluded to a strong rear-drive bias for the car: “Understeering? No sign of that here!” Their words, not ours.
Front-wheel-drive versions of the A5 will use a six-speed manual gearbox, Audi says. Otherwise, drivers will choose from a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox or an eight-speed torque-converter automatic that until now was restricted to higher-priced models in the Audi range.
Quattro will be offered on all four-cylinder Audi A5s paired with the manual transmission, but based on Audi’s new ‘Ultra’ technology that replaces a variable centre differential with a fixed 60:40 front-to-rear bias.
Inside, the A5 adds Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, featuring a wide 12.3-inch colour screen replacing the conventional analogue dials. There’s also an 8.3-inch screen mounted high on the centre console.
The new coupe now includes an electronic function designed to encourage drivers to save fuel, known as the “predictive efficiency assistant”, and European market models will get autonomous emergency braking as standard.
Audi’s A5 range currently kicks off from $67,180 for the entry-level 1.8 TFSI fitted with a continuously variable transmission. That compares with $71,100 for the BMW 420i and $64,000 for the Lexus RC200t Luxury. Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, sells its entry-level C200 coupe from $59,909.