2017 Audi A5 and S5 Coupe Review – Australian First Drive
Alex Rae’s 2017 Audi A5 and S5 Coupe Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: A sophisticated product with a refined range of powerful petrol engines and without compromise from the entry model up.
2017 A5 and S5 Coupe Review
Pricing From $69,900+ORC Warranty three years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 15,000kms/12 months Safety 5 star ANCAP rating Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol, 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel,2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol, six-cylinder 3.0-litre turbocharged turbo Power/Torque 140kW/320Nm, 140kW/400Nm, 185kW/370Nm, 260kW/500Nm Transmission seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (A5), eight-speed automatic (S5) Drive rear-wheel-drive, all-wheel drive Dimensions 4673mm (L); 1846mm (W); 1372mm (H) Bootspace 465 litres Spare 00000 Fuel Tank 58 litres Thirst From 4.6L/100km
Almost a decade has passed since Audi unveiled its A5 simultaneously at the 2007 Geneva and Melbourne motor shows. During its reveal, A5 designer Walter de Silva declared the A5, “is the most beautiful car I’ve designed in my career”.
Precisely nine and a half years on the gracefully ageing A5 seemed all but forgotten while the manufacturer from Ingolstadt concentrated its efforts on producing a well stocked army of SUV vehicles, which it now has. And so the tide is changing.
Following the recent launch of the S4 was the launch of the updated A5/S5 Coupe, and we attended the first drive in Tasmania earlier this week. The coupe is the A5’s second biggest seller behind the five-door sportback but ahead of the cabriolet and that trend is expected to continue with the latest updated model.
What is it?
The presentation for the new A5 and S5 model had as many mentions of best in class as it did technical specifications. Most economical petrol in its class, largest boot space in class, first in class with adjustable feeding seat belt anchor, lowest drag coefficient, best aeroacoustics, most economical diesel in the market… It goes on.
And why not mention them, because the sum of the improvements Audi has made in the A5 equals a car that’s a pleasure to drive either cruising or pushing around corners, even if it doesn’t really look that much different.
The father of A5’s design, Walter de Silva, wasn’t involved in the updated design changes and instead Audi employed ex-Skoda designer Jakob Hirzl for the job.
The updated aesthetics look more impressive in person than in photos. It’s because of the subtle changes to the hip-line and massaging of curves, and it’s effective. The hip line is sharper than before and cuts in lower on the front of the A5. It accentuates a low sloped bonnet with a new ‘power dome’ bump, standard on all engine models. There’s little things less obvious too, like a very thin high mounted rear stop light which is barely noticeable (possibly another first).
The body is 15kg lighter and produced from steel and aluminium. It’s also stiffer, especially around the suspension points which makes finer tuning of the 5-point multi-link suspension units (front and rear) possible.
Audi A5 models come equipped with 7-speed dual clutch transmission while the S5 gets an 8-speed automatic.
The entry model A5 is a front-wheel drive 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol producing 140kW and 320Nm, which replaces the 1.8-litre entry model. The new model is more than a second faster in the 01-00kmh sprint, now taking 7.3sec. It’s also the most economical petrol in its class at 5.5L/100km combined cycle. It is priced from $69,900 (+ORCs).
Slightly more powerful is the quattro 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel which produces 185Kw and 400Nm. It improves the previous model’s 0-100km/h from 7.8sec to 7.2sec and lower economy to 4.2L/100km. It’s the most economical diesel in the market and is priced from $73,900 (+ORCs).
The expected volume seller is the quattro 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol, producing 185kW and 370Nm and dropping 0.6sec off its 0-100km/h time to now 5.8sec. Priced from $81,500 (+ORCs).
The most powerful coupe in the lineup (until the RS5, due in quarter four this year) is the S5. Gone is the previous supercharged six for a new 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol producing 260kW at 5400-6400rpm and 500Nm from 1370-4500rpm. It’s 15kW more powerful than the previous engine and drops the 0-100km/h sprint from 4.9sec to 4.7sec – that’s as fast as the previous model RS4 avant.
The S5’s new engine features a 90-degree vee design with a hot-inside turbo (lowers turbo lag) and produces peak torque earlier in the rev range. It also gets a special ‘S-mode’ in virtual cockpit which centres the tachometer and provides a lap timer. It is priced to sell at $105,800 (+ORCs), $16,815 lower than its previous price of $122,615.
The A5 and S5 get some new gear too, such as virtual cockpit across the range, courtesy lights, kick to open boot, LED matrix lights (option), cross-traffic alert with automatic braking, more safety features, audi connect (Google satellite maps and traffic data) and wifi hotspot for up to 8 connections.
A new to A5 predictive efficiency driving mode utilises nav data and road conditions to preempt braking and acceleration points, such as approaching a roundabout, and provide better efficiency.
What’s it like inside?
The A5 has shrunk in width by 8mm, now 1846mm wide, however the interior space is actually larger, providing 23mm more legroom and 6mm higher head space. The width feels rather capacious because of Audi’s horizontal architecture, where the vents and dash stretch out in a long smooth design rather than be broken up into parts.
The leather seats in the base and mid-spec model are comfortable and supportive, and about five hours of driving in both models combined did not feel tiring. The seats aren’t a touch on the luxury provided by the optional (and standard in S5) fine Nappa leather seats and the bolstering they provide, but they are better than some other base model seats.
The seats are electronically adjustable and provide for quite a low hip point if needed, and there’s a lot of room in the footwell upfront. Manually adjusted tilt and reach steering helps find a good driver position. The seat belt anchor feeder is height adjustable.
The design is minimalist and similar to that of other current Audis, and it looks premium. The materials used are a mix of premium and good, although nearly all touch point (infotainment and nav controls, climate control and steering wheel inputs, are quality). The 1-9 nav shortcut buttons are also capacitive and heighten the premium appeal inside.
Mod cons include automatic up and down windows, two USB ports in the centre console along with a 12v socket and aux input, and the air-conditioning unit features a special filter to scrub odours and contaminants from the air. The two USB ports connect a smartphone to either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and in testing provided 50 per cent charge up in 30 minutes on iPhone 7. Apple CarPlay connectivity in Audis is seamless, and it is no different in the new A5.
The front seats provide a long footwell of space, but it sacrifices the rear seat space dearly. The rear seats however have had some attention and are comfortable and there’s bottle holders either side. The rear seat is now 40:20:40 split fold, very convenient for lugging some skis down the centre port and four passengers.
The boot has a 465 litre capacity and is rather deep. It’s the largest boot in its class and is as large as the previous A4 Avant. A nice touch is the ability to split fold the rear seats from the boot rather than the front cabin.
What’s it like on the road?
We drove the entry model front-wheel drive 2.0 TFSI, quattro 2.0 TFSI and S5. The entry model was our first drive which started through the small city of Hobart to half-way along Tasmania’s eastern coast. Most noticeable was how quiet the cabin is. The A5 has a drag co-efficient of 0.27, 0.02 lower than before, and the engineers have also gone to great lengths to minimise noises caused by problematic creases and joins. The result is a very quiet interior, although the base model, on its 18-inch 40/245 profile Bridgestone Potenza S001 tyres, transmitted the most road noise.
The tyres however kept up well with the A5’s sharp chassis and suspension. The base model didn’t have adaptive suspension damper tuning (nor the mid-spec quattro 2.0 TFSI we drove, $2210 cost option on both models), however the standard suspension allowed for some body roll in the corners which was more than enough for some playful cornering along the twisting coast.
As a cruiser or five-seat grand tourer, the entry-model A5 is good value. It has comfortable seats, good steering and handling, and the engine is surprisingly quick. Perhaps it’s because a 140kw and 320Nm power output isn’t much compared with today’s high powered sports cars, but in reality the torque is delivered very early in the rev range and quickly plateaus at its peak output. Overtaking or putting your foot down and allowing the swift seven-speed dual clutch to kick down a gear provides plenty of power for overtaking or throttling out of corners. There’s some hints of torque steer when provoked, but it’s well tamed in most situations thanks to smart torque vectoring at the wheels.
The expected volume seller, the 2.0-litre TFSI quattro, has more urgency from its 185kW and 400Nm engine, but its handling felt similar to the entry-model, with a slightly different weight balance which seemed a touch firmer than the front-wheel drive model. It was also quieter, riding on 19-inch Continental ContiSportContact tyres.
The top spec S5 produces 260kW and 500Nm from its 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 and its acceleration is rapid. It will sprint 0-100km/h in 4.7sec, which means apart from having as large a boot as the previous RS4 avant, it is as quick as it. However curiously the lack of road noise and very well composed adaptive suspension damping removes some of the thrill and sensation of speed. Such is the design of the A5 and S5 to be so refined that the sense of excitement when driving it quickly is somewhat removed. However it is a very good engine, with plenty of power everywhere, and the older 8-speed automatic performs quickly and precisely. The suspension in the S5 has less roll than in the other models we drove, and adjusting between comfort and dynamic was noticeable, with comfort mode able to absorb enough of the rougher roads that they weren’t obvious.
What about safety features?
The A5 has scored a five-star ANCAP rating and the A5 includes a good amount of standard safety features across all models, including active bonnet, attention assist, pre-sense city with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection (up to 85km/h) and pre-sense rear – helps to mitigate rear-end collisions.
Seatbelt safety includes: front pre-tensioners and belt force limiters; 3 point seat belts for both rear passengers including pre-tensioners and seatbelt reminders for all passengers.
Why would you buy one?
The Audi A5 provides refinement and enjoyable coupe driving performance from the entry model up. For buyers with a budget under $70,000, the base model A5 ticks many of the right boxes without much sacrifice. Stretch some more dollars and add a couple optional packages and there’s a car which will provide nearly everything most drivers need. The standard safety is already very good, so there’s no need to budget for that (unless wanting the well implemented assistance package at $1,900), and as far as performance the 2.0-litre TFSi delivers plenty in both tunes. Step up $30,000 into the $105,800 Audi S5 and there’s all the fruit you want plus a blazing engine. It doesn’t provide the same visceral thrill as some sports cars, but it’s more refined than most. Some sharp handling doesn’t compromise much comfort, either.
Our pick would be the entry model which offers all the essential A5 ingredients. The S5 is the true step up in performance however, at least until the RS5 arrives.