The Audi A5 quattro S line is like Tony Blair in his heyday: it’s got the looks, it’s powerful, and it’s smooth. I might be a die-hard Tory, but even I’m convinced that owning this Audi would be no labour of love. Tony took the helm and really drove the ‘New Left’, so I’m taking the helm of the new A5 and seeing if it’s really Right.
I drove its more amply endowed big brother the 4.2-litre V8 S5 back in February. I remember liking it, but not enough to buy one — there was something about the manual gearbox I wasn’t too sure about, and the hill start assist just didn’t work well, making a smooth uphill getaway with the hydraulic handbrake occasionally difficult.
The A5, however, has a six-speed automatic ‘box; a really good one, at that, with a sequential manual mode. And it’s enhanced by the Audi Drive Select, for which there are three settings: comfort which gives you the best economy, auto for everyday driving, and dynamic for sports driving with earlier downshifts and later upshifts.
With its low, lithe, aggressive stance the A5 is a car for the virile executive. A two-door coupe, it’s for the businessman (or woman) that could fill a stadium with children, but chooses not to. It’s for those that appreciate sleek design and understated power, and want the handling to go with it.
When it gets down to it, the discerning driver will probably only want to make one change in the A5 S line, and that’s the stereo which is straight from Mediocre-ville.
The Audi A5 actually had the hardest job in the world with me because the week before I had a Subaru WRX STI Spec R — one of my favourite cars. It still impressed me. And that’s not because the WRX STI is also cursed with a stereo that sounds like you’re listening to it with the bass turned off and the mid-range put through a guitar pedal. It was because of the sense of oneness that driving the A5 gives you.
I’m not going to give you a list of specifications here (you can click through to the second page to read that); I’m going to describe what it’s like to get in and drive the A5.
nlock the door, give a firm pull on the handle — coupe doors are longer and heavier. Climb in and drop into the leather seat. This is the point where the car closes around you. This isn’t in a venus fly-trap type of way. Imagine it a bit like Sigourney Weaver in Aliens when, as Ellen Ripley, she dons the power loader suit to fight the big mamma alien. You are now an integral part of the machine and it will do your beck and call.
Fire up the 3.2-litre V6. It’s quiet, but there’s enough of a vibration to let you know it’s ready for some fun. Leave the Audi Drive Select in comfort mode and drive sedately (yet in anticipation) to your favourite stretch of twisty tarmac. While you’re doing this you can explore a multitude of electronic gadgets befitting a car that costs almost $118,000 — cruise control, Bluetooth phone integration, how long the lights will stay on after you’ve locked the car, trip computer, etc. Don’t bother with the stereo unless you’ve upgraded it, but do notice how many people look at you in the car — it’s an eye-catcher.
Once you’ve reached the aforementioned length of sinuous tarmac, switch the A5’s Audi Drive Select into auto (or dynamic if you really want to go for it), and unleash the 195kW and 330Nm via the quattro four-wheel drive. The A5 deals blows left and right as the tarmac ducks and weaves, occasionally screaming in pain. Grip from the 255/35R19 tyres is immense as the outside wheels throw you back onto the straights. Braking is like coming out of hyperdrive, and on the other side of a corner, accelerating away is satisfyingly brisk (100kph is reached in 6.1 seconds).
I like the A5 S line more than the S5, even though it has less power. It’s a driver’s car — one you like to get in and just drive for the sake of driving. But New Zealand’s roads are like the Alien queen xenomorph — ugly, sneaky, writhing, and ready at any moment to inflict carnage and leave a gooey mess. The A5 therefore is the perfect combination of Sigourney Weaver’s power loader and Tony Blair — subtly persuasive, insidiously powerful and hugely competent.
Click through to the next page to view the full specifications and options for the Audi A5 quattro S line 3.2 FSI V6 quattro and the 3.0 TDI V6 quattro.
Price: from $117,900
What we like
- Everything we like about the S5, but more
- Audi Drive Select
- Five-spoke alloy wheels are beautiful
- Warranty — 3-year, cost-free
What we don’t like
- Mediocre stereo — buy the Bang & Olufsen upgrade
|A5 S line Specification and Option Sheet (prices correct at time of press (May 2008)||3.2 FSI V6 quattro||3.0 TDI V6 quattro|
|KiloWatts/HP||195 / 265||176 / 240|
|Torque (Nm/rpm)||330 / 3000||500 / 1500|
|Cylinders / Valves Per Cylinder||6 / 4||6 / 4|
|Fuel Injection System||FSI||Common Rail Diesel|
|Transmission – Tiptronic With DSP & Sport Program||6 speed||6 speed|
|Servotronic Steering Assistance||o||o|
|Adaptive Sports Suspension with Audi Drive Select||o||o|
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h (secs)||6.1||5.9|
|Top Speed (km/h)||250 (regulated)||250 (regulated)|
|Fuel consumption combined in l/100 km (CO2 emission)||9.7 (232)||7.2 (191)|
|Audi Cover Assistance – 3 Year Cost Free Motoring||o||o|
|Galvanised Body – 12 Year Anti-Corrosion Warranty||o||o|
|Safety and Security|
|ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake Pressure Distribution) and Electronic Brake Assist||o||o|
|ASR Traction Control System, with EDL – Electronic Diff Lock and ESP||o||o|
|Front Passenger Airbag Key Deactivation||o||o|
|ISOFIX Child Seat Anchorages Front & Rear||o||o|
|Driver & Passenger Airbags, Front Side Airbags and Sideguard Head Airbag System||o||o|
|Anti Theft Alarm With Interior Surveillance and Vehicle Immobiliser||o||o|
|Alloy Wheels||19″ 5-arm style Design||19″ 5-arm style Design|
|Tyres||255/35 R 19||255/35 R 19|
|Auto Headlight Activation with Rain Sensor, Coming-Home and Daytime Driving Mode||o||o|
|Automatic Dimming Exterior Mirrors – Electric & Heated with Memory function||o||o|
|Front bumpers, Side Radiator Grilles, and Diffuser Inserts in Sporty Design||o||o|
|Lower Sections of Bumpers and Door Strips Painted in Body Colour||o||o|
|Rear Diffuser in Platinum Grey||o||o|
|S line Logo on the Front Wings||o||o|
|S line Logo on Door Sill Trims||o||o|
|Space Saver Spare Wheel||o||o|
|Air Conditioning (three -zone) with Sun Sensor & Humidity Sensor||o||o|
|Auto Dimming Interior Mirrors||o||o|
|CD Changer for MMI||o||o|
|Driver Information System||o||o|
|Electromechanical Parking Brake||o||o|
|Heated Electric Front Seats with Lumber and Drivers Memory||Sports||Sports|
|Height And Reach Adjustable Steering Column||o||o|
|Interior Trim||Milano Leather||Milano Leather|
|Mobile Phone Preparation with Blue Tooth||o||o|
|Multi Function Trip Computer||o||o|
|Multi Media Interface (MMI)||o||o|
|I Pod Preparation||o||o|
|Parking Aid Front & Rear||o||o|
|Sports Steering Wheel – 3 Spoke with Shift Paddles, Multifunction||o||o|
|Split Folding Rear Seat||o||o|
|A5 S line Specification and Option Sheet||3.2 FSI V6 Quattro||3.0 TDI V6 quattro|
|20″ 7-Double Spoke Design||$1,500||$1,500|
|Bi- Xenon Plus with Headlight Washers||$2,500||$2,500|
|Bi- Xenon Plus with Headlight Washers and Adaptive Lights||$3,500||$3,500|
|Audi Side Assist||$1,600||$1,600|
|Electrically Operated Roll Up Sun Screen for Rear Window||$1,000||$1,000|
|Tyre Pressure Monitoring Display||$200||$200|
|Leather Trim and Packages|
|Seat Heating for Front and Rear Seats||$900||$900|
|Audi Hill Hold Assist||$150||$150|
|Driver Information System with Colour Display||$400||$400|
|Garage Door Opener (Homelink)||$700||$700|
|Inlays, Walnut Brown||$500||$500|
|Inlays, Fine Grain Ash Beige||$500||$500|
|Inlays, Laurel Nutmeg||$500||$500|
|Audi Dynamic Sound System||$1,000||$1,000|
|Bang & Olufsen Sound System||$2,500||$2,500|
|Sound and Go package (Advanced Key + Bang & Olufsen Sound System)||$3,500||$3,500|
Words and photos Darren Cottingham