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Standout looks - but is this coupe's appeal more than skin deep?
LED headlights, taillights and DRLs, heated front seats, three-zone climate control, electric tailgate, 10.1in touchscreen with sat-nav, 12.3in Virtual Cockpit display, Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, cruise control with speed limiter, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, autonomous emergency braking, multi-collision brake assist, automatic lights and wipers.
190hp 2.0, 245hp 2.0
163hp 2.0, 190hp 2.0
Sport, S Line, Edition 1, Vorsprung
The A5 is Audi's coupe equivalent to the A4 upper-medium car, so it's no surprise that a year after the A4 was facelifted, a new-look A5 has arrived on the scene. The headline changes are much the same - new mild hybrid engines, revised styling and revamped infotainment. The A5 is available as a two-door coupe or a cabriolet, but here we're trying the most practical version, the five-door Sportback that aims to offer a bit more usability along with the style.
Mild hybrids are all the rage at the moment, but in the case of the A5 the system is particularly mild, being only a 12V hybrid. This means that, unlike with the 48V systems seen in other cars and with the S5 performance variant, the system doesn't directly help the engine (a 190hp petrol in our test car) to power the wheels. What it does do is allow the engine to idle for brief periods when coasting at speed, and also allow the stop-start system to kick in earlier, switching off the engine from about 13mph. Both of these save fuel, and offer no inconvenience to the driver - in fact, without keeping an eye on the rev counter they might not even notice it's happening, down to how well the system has been integrated and also the petrol engine's excellent refinement.
Otherwise, the A5's driving experience is a bit surprising. From the looks you might expect a whooshy, powerful yet composed sports saloon, but in fact on country roads it feels more like you're driving a big hot hatchback. With the S Line equipment grade tested here you get sport suspension that drops the ride height by 23mm - a significant amount, designed to make it tauter and improve handling. It's successful up to a point - the car feels agile and flat in corners and there's plenty of grip. But it's no sensation, with its front-wheel drive layout a dynamic handicap against rear-wheel drive rivals, and there's a price to pay in the form of an overly firm ride, especially around town - not helped by the S Line-standard 19in wheels. Fortunately, this issue doesn't affect what should be the A5's bread and butter, motorway cruising, where it rides much better and the sport seats provide excellent comfort. With the seven-speed automatic gearbox and accomplished adaptive cruise control easing things further, spending hour after hour on the go is no hardship.
There's no question the A5 offers a lot to drivers who want to stand out in the office car park. This is especially true of S Line spec, where those big wheels, along with a bodykit package including more aggressive bumpers and side skirts, augment facelift changes that include a wider grille, larger air inlets and a rear diffuser insert.
Overall it's a package with some presence, and it undeniably turns heads.
Inside, the revised A5 scores well with technology. The highly impressive 12.3in digital cockpit display, complete with Google Earth sat-nav imagery, is standard throughout the range, as is a 10.1in central touchscreen, Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, and wireless phone charging. Although the A5 follows other Audi's in losing the previous rotary control, making the infotainment screen touch only, at least physical ventilation controls are retained, making them easier to operate on the move. The interior's OK for space too - despite the lower coupe roof passengers should be fine in the back, and a 465-litre boot is hardly pokey.
The facelifted A5 comes at the head of a wave of change in its segment. Its chief rival, the BMW 4 Series, is about to be replaced, while the Kia Stinger and Volkswagen Arteon are also shortly to be facelifted (the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe and Lexus RC are two-door only). That said, the imminent updates may be to the Audi's advantage, since at the moment it looks a bit expensive to buy and run against the previous-generation competition.