Audi India launched the Audi A5 amidst a lot of hue and cry. The BratPack, as Audi calls it, drove in with two variants; A5 Sportback and A5 Cabriolet. With the Audi A5 images itself can one make out that it is basically a sportier version of A4.With a sportback roof design and a 2.0 L diesel engine that powers the A4, Audi A5 reviews decently well. It is based on the MLB platform and uses the popular Audi Quattro all-wheel drive. Overall, the Audi A5 has an uppish feel to it, whether you consider the ride quality, drive, cabin comfort or design. In other words, if you’re looking for something that is stylish and sporty while is a driver’s delight at the same time, then Audi A5 might just be the one for you.
EXTERIOR AND LOOK ;
Aesthetically speaking, the new A5 is quite similar to its four-door sibling, the A4. And that’s a good thing – both vehicles are quite attractive, with proportions that suggest a dynamic experience behind the wheel, but don’t get in your face about it. This characteristic is doubly so for the A5, which uses the two-door layout to great effect, particularly in profile. From that angle, we see something Audi calls a “three-dimensional wave-shaped shoulder line,” which was also used on the outgoing model, and helps to emphasize the wheel arches without getting all DTM about it. In front is Audi’s characteristic “Singleframe” grille, which is now wider and flatter than before, while the headlights are sharply cut and angular. The hood line is long, while the overhangs are short.
Dimensionally, Audi says the new A5 is larger than before (roughly 2.7 inches longer). The automaker also indicated that the new look makes for a drag coefficient of just 0.25, propelling the A5 to the head of the segment when it comes to aero slipperiness. Lighting includes LEDs for the rear, while the headlights are offered with both regular LEDs and Matrix LEDs (standard spec includes xenon elements, plus LED daytime running lights). The turn signals are dynamic.
INTERIOR AND COMFORT ;
Right from when you open the doors the frameless doors the A5 creates a sense of specialness. You have to drop yourself down into the seat, but it isn’t too low. The 8-way electrically adjustable seat means you can get a good view of the road ahead, and the tilt and telescopic steering lets you adjust the seating position perfectly. The all black interiors, three-spoke steering, all digital cockpit and the wide centre console come together to make it feel very special too. The use of open pore black wood on the dashboard, centre console and on the door pads on our test car was a classy touch.The front seats of the A5 aren’t too deep, but do a decent job of holding you in place. The seat base and back are wide to accommodate even larger frames. Both the front seats can be electronically adjusted but lack memory function. The instrument cluster is the Audi Virtual Cockpit, which means an all digital display which can show a variety of relevant information like date and time, fuel consumption, speed, tachometer, odometer, drive modes, and much more. On the other hand, the the infotainment display is not a touchscreen and shows vehicle settings, media, maps and Bluetooth connection for smartphones. But a big miss here is that this Rs 60 lakh car does not get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as standard. And the screen isn’t a touch-sensitive unit either.
The centre console gets a host of neatly arranged buttons to control Audi’s MMI, or infotainment system cum car computer. Sitting in the middle are the rotary selector for the MMI with a scribble pad and a chunky gear shifter, which feels really nice to hold and gives you a sense of power that the car packs. Speaking of the buttons, the air con vents get nice touch-sensitive switches which show the setting as soon as you place a finger on them. But to change the setting, though, you will have to physically toggle them – an ideal setup indeed as you can easily do this while driving.Another thing worth mentioning here is the under-armrest storage, which remains partially open so you have access to your phone and which can be plugged into the USB charging port there. The stowage space is big enough to handle your wallet, phone, sunglasses and other small objects, all at the same time. The door pockets hold one-litre bottles and have some more room for storage.
The Audi A5 is a clearly a driver-focused car, but if you want to seat someone at the back, you can. Two adults can ride here in reasonable comfort for shorter journeys. There are rear AC vents as well with a 3-zone climate control. Why short? Well, the legroom is adequate so long as there are two average sized adults, however the sloping roof line creates some complications. Yes, it cuts into the headroom and to keep it from getting tight the seatback angle has been set quite upright. So, if you are over 60 years of age or 6-feet or taller, stay put in the front. On the bright side, if you are travelling with friends or family, the A5 has a massive 480-litre boot which can eat up a lot of luggage. Adding to the convenience is the fact that it is a liftback and has a low loading lip height of just 669mm, which make loading even heavy articles fairly easy.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX ;
The elephant in the room is really the diesel engine. Sure it could maybe work on the more practical and conventional, five-door A5 Sportback, but on a convertible, really? We were quite disappointed to hear that the A3 Cabriolet facelift would be downsizing from a 1.8- to a 1.4-litre petrol engine, but this move, on the surface, seems arguably worse. This is, perhaps, for cost reasons, as the EA288 diesel engine is assembled in India, but you can’t help but wonder why they didn’t at least give the option of the excellent EA888 2.0-litre petrol engine you get in the Audi Q7 and the Audi TT.Fire it up and you immediately realise what we mean, as you get a big rattle that settles down to a grumbly note. It drones on a bit as you move off, and only once you’ve gotten going does the noise disappear into a hush. Once you’re cruising, however, the refinement is really impressive. This is one of the quietest four-cylinder diesels around and you will forget about the fuel that propels it, once you’re absorbed into the driving experience. The soft-top roof does a commendable job of keeping outside noises outside – motor included – but this is a convertible, so you’re going to open the roof, right? By the way, that takes 18sec and can be done at speeds up to 50kph.
This is a relatively large, two-door car that weighs nearly 1.9 tonnes (there’s lots of extra structural bracing) and has no roof, so yes, there is a bit of flex in the chassis that you can feel going over bumps and speed breakers. But this won’t bother you that much because this is less of a sportscar and more of a cruiser, and that engine has a lot to do with it. It’s not an S5 that would urge you to push harder, and though there are drive modes to turn the wick up, they only work, and very mildly so, on the steering and powertrain. The suspension is unaffected.And that suspension is really well calibrated, and nowhere near as bouncy or floaty as the A4. In fact, this is the calibration they should have chosen for all the cars on this platform in India. It’s reasonably composed around corners too. But the real revelation is the steering, which though not quite at the same level as a BMW or Jaguar, is impressive for an Audi when it comes to heft and feedback.As for the way the engine performs, it’s actually rather good. 400Nm is a good amount to shove this convertible around and when put to the road via a quick-shifting DSG gearbox and Quattro AWD, you get seamless and effortless performance. Sure, there’s the slight hiccup at low revs, but that’s the case with most powertrains of a similar configuration. The 190hp 2.0 TDI has enough gusto for this car, provided you don’t attempt drag racing someone between the traffic lights.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
Then there’s the Individual mode which permits the driver to toggle between Comfort, Dynamic and Auto for the engine/gearbox and steering. This essentially means that you can also mix the preferences. Like for example, choose ‘Dynamic’ engine/gearbox settings along with ‘Comfort’ steering responses. That said, the Auto mode smartly notes the driver’s driving style and automatically adjusts the steering and engine/gearbox responses. Now while the steering feels slightly vague and off-centre in Comfort, shifting to Dynamic makes it quicker and is preferred if you’re attacking bends.Unlike the regular saloon version, the A5 Cabriolet tends to flex over harsh road irregularities. Plus, there’s some amount of wind and road noise that filters into this cabin at higher speeds. That said, you can hear the suspension working away at absorbing the harsh bumps. Since the suspension set-up is slightly soft, it happily absorbs most irregularities at slow speeds without allowing much NVH into the cabin. However, there is some vertical movement as speeds increases, and it can get pronounced over sharper undulations.
Safety and convenience is enhanced thanks to an extensive range of new or updated autonomous features. This includes a predictive efficiency assistant, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with a Stop&Go feature, parking assist, rear cross-traffic monitor, exit warning, collision avoidance assistant, turn assist, and traffic sign recognition.Meanwhile, the optional Audi connect and safety & service package includes auto emergency call, online roadside assistance, and Audi service request, as well as remote features through the MMI connect app, which allows smartphones, smart watches, and even Apple TV users to lock and unlock doors, start the engine, check the vehicle status, find the vehicle location, and more.
Overall, the A5 isn’t a four door sports sedan as its form would otherwise suggest, but has siblings in the range to take care of that requirement. The A5 Sportback to me is a quick highway operator with good road manners and practicality for long distance touring. If you think the more practical A4 is too conventional in its appearance, then the A5 could appeal more to you. It borrows the same kit and drivetrain that make the A4 a sensible buy and fits it in a more flamboyant package. I think it’s a damn good car.