Audi knows its customers and what they want, and the new A5 2.0 TDI Coupe ticks every box you would wish for. It could, admittedly, be a little bit more exciting to drive down a twisty road, but the basics are all so good it's difficult to argue against.
In the metal
Damned if they do and damned if they don't, being an Audi designer must be a tough job. They admit as much in the press-preamble: the car this A5 supplants was so proportionally right and elegant it's a tough act to replace. But replace it they must. It's instantly recognisable as an Audi A5, only the purity of design has been disrupted by some edgy lines running along its flanks and, more jarringly, down the bonnet. If we're being fair it works far better in reality than the pictures suggest, but it's a fussier looking A5, removing some of the elegance that defined the old car.
You'll care not one bit what it looks like outside once you're in it. Audi's excellence in interiors is second only to the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce; better even if you want the most cutting-edge tech. The fit and finish are exemplary, the functionality spot on, and visually it's a treat. There's a big screen in the centre console, an easily navigated MMI operation system and, depending on whether you've opted for the Virtual Cockpit and head-up display, three ways of seeing most of all the satnav, drive and entertainment information. We assume that the analogue instruments will be similar to those in the current Audi A4, which are just fine.
The first thing that strikes you inside, apart from that smart fascia of course, is the feeling of space. The relocated door mirrors give the impression of slimmer pillars, while the rear window is bigger and the view out the back better - thanks in no small part to the beautiful frameless rear-view mirror. Audi does detail so well. Where it has traditionally fallen down is on the road. Typically, Audi has achieved 'competent', rather than class-leading. The new A5 starts things off a bit better. On the longer wheelbase (to the benefit of rear-seat head- and legroom) and new suspension the A5 rides nicely, taking the edge off rougher roads while maintaining fine control.
There's no traction-aiding quattro four-wheel drive on this model, and it doesn't really need it. The steering's uncorrupted buy the 2.0-litre engine's 190hp, or, more accurately, the 400Nm of twist it delivers. Grip levels are high and the A5 steers with real accuracy. There's no discernable feel at the wheel itself, but, really, that doesn't matter; it's a brisk, composed and easy drive, which delivers fine economy. The automatic transmission changes gear swiftly, defaulting to coasting when it can and it's even possible to force it to do so by pulling and holding the up paddle shifter. It's amusing doing so - eking every last kilometre out of every drop of fuel on the daily grind is the driver engagement here, as opposed to chucking it about on a winding road. Do that and it'll hang on gamely, but the TDI engine gets a bit raucous at higher revs, upsetting the otherwise fine refinement. It's very much fit for purpose then, which is no bad thing, even if that means it's not the last word in excitement as a result.
What you get for your money
Pricing for the 2017 Audi A5 Coupe starts at €47,510 for 2.0-litre TFSI petrol power, or €50,100 for a 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine, both in 190hp form. SE and S line specifications are offered and the former includes Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights and an LED interior light pack, MMI navigation system with seven-inch colour display, Bluetooth and USB charging functionality, smartphone interface for iOS and Android devices and a three-month trial of Audi Connect. The sportier looking A5 S line model includes LED headlights, leather-upholstered seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, 18-inch alloys and sports suspension as standard.
A launch edition pack will be available for the new Audi A5 Coupe, priced at €1,850 and featuring a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and a wheel upgrade (18-inch on SE and 19-inch on S line models).
The new Audi A5 Coupe is available to order in dealerships from mid-November, with first deliveries expected in early 2017.
More of the same from Audi, and there's little reason for complaint either. A good car, rather than an exceptional one, the A5 is quiet, fine riding, more spacious than before and economical. Throw that special interior into the offering and it'll continue to make buyers in this class very happy indeed.