2010 Audi A5 Road Test Review

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It's safe to say that Audi made its mark with coupes.  The bulk of the German luxury manufacturer's "quattro" all-wheel drive vehicles these days may be sedans and station wagons, but Audi's elegant style and blistering performance has always lent itself well to coupes, and many of the company's most iconic products, from the early 1980s Quattro all the way to the TT and Porsche-challenging R8, wear two doors. 

Combining the elegance of its sedans with the performance of the coupes, the Audi A5 brings a true four-passenger, two-door hardtop to Audi's lineup for the first time since 1991.  A four-seat, two-door convertible has been offered since then, but no fixed-roof coupe.  Speaking of the convertible, for 2010 an A5 cabriolet has joined the lineup.

Luxury sport coupes are not, by definition, the most efficient or practical vehicles out there.  This is a car that's intended to tell the world that you chose it because you liked it.  You're not driving an A5 because it's best for the kids, or because it gets the best fuel economy -- you're driving it because you liked it better than the BMW 335ix coupe, Volvo C70, Dodge Challenger or other stylish two-doors.

That being the case, it's up to the A5 to sway buyers with its personality, and it's well equipped to do that.  The styling isn't extravagant, but the A5 benefits from the same tautness of line and economy of style that marks the rest of the lineup.  Upfront, the bold family grille extends its eggcrate styling into the bumper, and it's flanked by some of the most distinctive lighting to grace the roads in decades.  The A5 features brilliant LED daytime running lights that cradle the headlights with a brilliant slash of white light.  The well-defined hood is stretched nicely, and leads back into a svelte, athletic body that's more upright than the R8 or TT, which serve as the more extreme coupes in the Audi lineup.  The trunklid and taillights are less striking, and bear more of a resemblance to the A4.

The interior is similar to that of the A4 sedan, but it's more dressed up.  The dash has a distinctive overhang that gives the interior a textured, more intimate feeling.  This is a comfortable long-distance tourer, and holds a decent complement of luggage in the twelve cubic-foot trunk.  Rear-seat legroom is acceptable.  Three-zone climate control and Audi's Multi-Media Interface infotainment system are standard.  A panoramic glass roof is available to brighten the cabin even when the weather isn't nice enough for open-windowed motoring (the roof does not open like a conventional sunroof, it tilts up providing a vent function).  The available backup camera adds a handy infographic that projects lines representing the car's dimensions, easing parking space entry.  To ensure that the driving experience has an appropriate soundtrack, a 505-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system is optional.

Under the hood, the A5 features a choice of powerplants.  A 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder is standard, but the E-ticket ride is Audi's silky-smooth 3.2 litre FSI direct-injection V6.  With power and efficiency boosted by variable valve timing, the 3.2 makes 265 horsepower and is one of the engines that best exemplifies Audi's powerful but subtle performance.  A choice of six-speed manual or six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmissions is available, and all-wheel drive is standard.  Both gearboxes are nicely suited to the A5's dynamics; the manual is responsive and encourages smooth driving, while the Tiptronic is a great freeway cruiser.  The A5's quattro all-wheel drive system has a slight bias to the rear, to give the car a sportier feeling when driven hard.  The A5 is no compact car, but its weight (which approaches two tons when equipped with the automatic transmission) isn't evident from the driver's seat.

The handling is fantastic, of course.  The A5 may have the dimensions of a drag-racing ponycar, but the chassis is all Audi, and this car prefers curvy roads to contests of ultimate acceleration.  Double wishbones in a five-link arrangement are used to position the front wheels, and with the rack and pinion steering keeps the A5's responses crisp and predictable.  The rear suspension uses trapezoidal links, and extensive use of aluminum front and rear keeps weight down to further improve the car's reflexes.  A long wheelbase with short overhangs front and rear contributes to freeway stability.  Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, with nineteen-inchers available. 

The A5 is undeniably elegant and luxurious without being ostentatious.  It's also a great performer, and will satisfy the needs of auto enthusiasts looking for a grand touring sedan versatile enough to be a daily driver.  A5 pricing starts at $44,100 for the 2.0T, with V6 power coming in at $53,350.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Audi, 2010, A5, $50,000 - $74,999,

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