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Audi A5 First Drive Review

What is it?

Why will I buy the Audi A5?

For of its stylish exterior, premium cabin, refined diesel motor and comfortable ride.

Why will I avoid the Audi A5?

The A4 offers better rear seat comfort and will be substanially cheaper too.

This car is all about style but there’s a lot more substance under the skin of the Audi A5 Sportback than its flowing silhouette would suggest. It shares its MLB platform with the Audi A4, which is not a bad place to start with. It’s a more stylish version, one that looks sportier than its conventional sedan sibling and this is where its appeal lies. 

It sits 41mm lower, has a wider track (15mm front and 13mm rear) than the A4 and the combination of its coupe-like roofline, a chiselled body and frameless doors gives the A5 a lot of swag. Upfront, the A5 looks very similar to its sedan cousin but small details make it a lot more appealing. The front bumper is sharper, exquisitely detailed LED headlamps lends it character and the bulging creases on the bonnet is reminiscent of horns of an athletic Gazelle ready to sprint. At the rear the heavily raked C-pillar, sleek LED tail lamps with dynamic turn indicators and a stubby bumper complete the attractive look. But it’s in profile where the A5 really stands-out, thanks to the attractive crease extending across its length, the sporty 18 inch forged aluminium alloys and the curvy glasshouse.

How is it on the inside?

The building blocks of the interior are basically the same as the A4, including the dashboard, door pads, knobs and switches. The cabin is a fine place to be in, thanks to its high-quality construction and ergonomic design. 

The dash looks thoroughly modern and the thin air vents that span the entire width of the dash panel, fools you into thinking that the car is much wider than it actually is. The wood finish underneath the vents adds a traditional touch to an otherwise snazzy cabin. While you get a conventional high-res MMI screen on top of the dash, the one that sits in place of the conventional instruments makes you feel more like an airplane pilot sitting inside a modern jet plane.  All the information you would ever need is right in front of your eyes and the screen resolution and graphics are just unrivalled. 

Getting in and out of the A5 needs some effort as you sit quite low, but once inside you are pampered by the front seats that offer generous shoulder and lateral support with just the right amount of suppleness. Given the shortcomings of a stylish coupe-like roofline, Audi has done what it can to give you maximum comfort at the back as possible. The cabin roof is contoured to allow as much headroom as possible for rear passengers and legroom is perfectly acceptable too. The bench itself is comfy with good under thigh and back support. Despite the all-black cabin our test car came with, the A5 felt surprisingly airy and the relatively low window-line and the large sunroof helps here. Thanks to the notchback design the A5 is practical too. The 480-litre boot size is the same as the A4 but the large opening and split folding rear seat gives it estate like versatility. 

In terms of equipment, the A5 we had on test came well loaded. You get a large sunroof, electric leather front seats, front and rear parking assist with reversing camera, three-zone climate control, 8 airbags, LED headlamps and the Virtual cockpit instrumentation.

How does it drive?

At launch, the A5 will only come with a 2.0-litre diesel motor option. It is the same EA288 1968cc four-cylinder turbo-diesel motor as in the A4 and output figures of 188bhp and 400Nm are identical too. With similar weight to haul around, unsurprisingly it feels the same as the A4 on the move too.  

Refinement on this iron block motor is impressive and performance is more than adequate. The 7-speed dual clutch transmission works really well in tandem and makes full use of the power on tap. It responds quickly to the change in position of your right foot and ensures that you are in the meat of the power band at all times. In Comfort mode it feels soothing with linear throttle response and the torquey motor ensures minimum gearshifts too. In Dynamic mode the gearbox becomes hyper sensitive as the dual clutch automatic downshifts even with little pressure on the accelerator pedal. But it also becomes quite jerky and unless in a hurry its best to stick in Comfort setting. 

Despite the large 18 inch rims the A5 has a nice rounded edge to the way it rides. At low speeds the A5 feels comfortable and the well-judged damping helps it feel supple. Even over rutted surfaces the suspension has a surprisingly good level of crash-free bump absorption and you don’t feel most of the imperfections. Yes, there is some firmness at low speeds and you do feel some vibrations over rippled road surfaces, but it never gets to the point of feeling uncomfortable. Even at higher speeds the A5 shows good composure and this makes it a soothing highway companion. Audi has done an excellent job of sound insulation too and barely any road, tyre, wind or engine noise trickles in the cabin. 

Driving around Jaipur we never got to test A5’s cornering prowess. What we can tell you is that this Audi feels rock solid at high speeds and straight-line stability is exceptional. The steering is smooth and accurate but is merely a tool for pointing the front wheels - not gaining any kind of feel for the tyre or road interface. Like with the engine and gearbox, the steering felt best in Comfort mode, as Dynamic mode just adds weight and it feels unnatural especially around the straight ahead position.

Should I buy one?

As the nomenclature would suggest, the A5 will sit in between the A4 and the A6 and we expect it to cost around Rs 45-48 lakhs ex-showroom. Yes it will be expensive but that’s the price you pay for style. The A5’s sleek exterior, potent drivetrain and equipment are all compelling reasons to buy one.  It rides well, is very refined and is surprisingly practical too. At this price point desirability is very important and the A5 could fetch more buyers than the cheaper A4 because of this sole reason.

Where does it fit in?

Audi A5’s direct rival will be the BMW 320d GT. The Beemer also gets a 2.0-litre diesel powertrain and costs in the range of Rs 42.5-48.6 lakhs ex-Delhi.

Pictures by: Kapil Angane
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Audi A5 Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 77.44 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 77.56 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 71.45 Lakhs onwards
Pune₹ 77.16 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 73.59 Lakhs onwards
Ahmedabad₹ 70.19 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 72.91 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 67.18 Lakhs onwards
Chandigarh₹ 68.09 Lakhs onwards
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