Looks are not everything, or even the main thing.
Audi has been going hard on the timeless beauty of its designs, inside and out. We got the whole message, chapter and verse, with the launch this week of the second-generation A5 and S5 Coupe, sculpted and sporting two-door models with plenty in common with the A4.
Its predecessor, launched in Australia nearly a decade ago and lauded for its standout design, was described by legendary Audi designer Walter de Silva, as the 'the most beautiful car I've ever designed'.
Beauty, though, surely is in the eye of the beholder.
Just as the original A5/S5 styling stirred mainly positive reactions but occasionally variegated feelings out there in the car buying world, the new-gen siblings - unmistakably evolving from da Silva's gen-one design work - will have its adherents but also some who are possibly not quite overwhelmed.
A striking feature of the first-gen A5/S5 was its undulating "tornado" line running lazily from the headlights over the pronounced wheel arches to the rear of the car.
This line too is a standout of the new A5/S5 Coupes, sharing styling glory and social media babble with a new power dome on the front bonnet, essentially defined by two sculpted channels that highlight a central subtle bulge over the engine beneath.
It is worth noting that even with the target of a stunning shape, the wind tunnel result was a remarkable 0.25 for some skinny tyred Euro models, and still slippery 0.27 for the Australian variants with their fat 40-profile tyres.
Okay, we could rabbit on endlessly about the clever design elements of the new car but ultimately, the decision on whether or not the A5/S5 is Scarlett Johansson or Meryl Streep will be entirely up to you. And you. And you…
Me? I think it is rather pleasantly shaped in an elegant way without being a knockout in the way the TT was at its birth. Perhaps, like a review of a wife's new hairdo, a little more time is needed before the call is made.
In any case, while conceding that looks are important with cars inhabiting the higher half of the totem, there's way more to any car than the superficiality of styling. Which brings us to the suggestion that Audi should be very proud of the dynamic qualities and driving pleasure the new A5/S5 range provides. Every model is engaging in its own way.
More than 500 Australians have already pre-ordered theirs.
The Australian shoppers can choose between three engines (all 2.0-litre capacity) starting with the engine we first experienced in the A4, the turbocharged 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder of 140kW and 320Nm, replacing the old 1.8-litre. Riding on 18-inch wheels and tyres, this is front-drive only with a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. Price kicks off at $69,900.
And it's loaded with more standard stuff than we can possibly list here. Suffice to state that the safety suite is bountiful, including six airbags, an alert if the driver is nodding off, pre-sense city with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic assist to prevent rear enders when reversing, stability control with electronic wheel-selective torque control, hold assist on gradients, light and rain sensors, tyre pressure loss indicator.
A reversing camera is included of course with sensors both ends. Audi side assist warns of vehicles in the blind spot and others those approaching rapidly on either side. There's an exit warning system, too, so you avoid cleaning up cyclists or cars when opening a door while parked.
The A5 also gets LED headlights including LED daytime running lights, all-weather lights, turning lights, motorway light function and LED rear lights with dynamic indicators. You will be seen, and you will also see very well at night.
Audi Drive Select is on every A5 and the S5, allowing the driver to choose a driving mode that takes his or her fancy – from Eco to Dynamic.
Inside, all A5s get sports seats which are power adjustable for driver and passenger, and there are bottle holders in the doors and three-zone automatic air with a ventilated glove compartment.
For the active owners on the move, Audi connect extends to in-car wi-fi hotspot and Google services (requiring a data plan). Music can be sourced any number of ways and the Audi smartphone interface connects Apple or Android devices plugged into a USB slot to apps via the MMI system.
The latest navigation system also has integrated voice commands, a control panel handwriting recognition and touch to move and zoom around the maps
There's a hearty standard 10-speaker Audi sound system or else opt up to Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System, with 19 speakers delivering 755 watts through a 16-channel amplifier.
The much admired Audi virtual cockpit, a digitised and configurable instrument cluster with 12.3 inch high resolution colour display, is also standard across the range. Most people love it, but it is often difficult to absorb all the info at a glance. Does a driver really need two screen often giving similar sat-nav pictures?
Given the controversy surround diesels in the VW Group, it's interesting that Audi has elected to keep a turbo oiler TDI in the mix, its 140kW and 400Nm hooked up to quattro all-wheel drive and an S tronic. It goes hard enough (7.2secs to 100km/h) but is also a fuel sipper - a stunning 4.6L/100km. Along with the Audi A4 TDI quattro, this is the most fuel efficient 4WD vehicle on sale in Australia which isn't a bad selling point. At $73,900, the new 2.0 TDI A5 is also the cheapest quattro A5 ever offered.
Topping the A5 Coupe range is the 2.0 TFSI quattro with seven-speed S tronic. This one, which is destined to be the volume seller, cranks out 185kW and 370Nm and is good for the zero-100km/h test in 5.8 secs while capable of 6.5L/100km at the bowser. Selling for $81,500, this version also gets a bunch of other goodies including 19-inch wheels and Continental tyres.
The bigger 465-litre boot of the new range now has a rear seat backrest with 40/20/40 split, centre armrest and storage tray. The spare is a space saver.
The muscled-up S5 Coupe takes the dynamic and self-pleasuring experience up a solid notch, with gear that enhances its sporty aspirations, including S-specific sport suspension with damper control.
Like its S4 sedan brother, it's powered by a 3.0-litre V6 with a 90-degree vee angle that allows the turbocharger to squad neatly between the banks. It punches out 260kW and all of 500Nm via a more conventional eight-speed tiptronic gearbox. Launching from rest to 100km/h in 4.7secs is an indicator of its performance.
The S5 comes with much of the stuff loaded into the A5, but with some welcome extras that give performance coupe its special positioning, and higher price. Diamond-patterned and stitched Nappa leather upholstery, more adjustment and support in the (heated) sports seats, auto seat belt feeders, 360- degree cameras for easier manoeuvring, a third mode to the virtual cockpit display, and a lap timer.
The list extends to adaptive dampers, self-locking centre diff, big ventilated brakes with six-piston fixed calipers, 19-inch alloy wheels with 255/35 R19 tyres, and even more safety equipment including turn assist, active lane assist, traffic jam assist, adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go and frontal Audi pre-sense which provides extended collision warnings up to the maximum vehicle speed.
The active safety gear is there for those who get too distracted by the choices inherent in the infotainment world at fingertips or tongue.
The Audi A5/S5 line-up capped servicing costs are $1670 for three years/45,000km with service intervals every 12 months/15,000km.
The new-vehicle warranty is three years/unlimited km.
Intended A5/S5 targets haven't change, being urban Aussie professionals of both sexes, with an affinity for design (here we go again), travel, food and wine. Audi is reckoning on the new A5 being at least as successful, sales-wise, as the outgoing range of Coupe, Sportback and Cabrio.
The new A5 Sportback lobs in a couple of months; the Cabriolet is expected in the third quarter this year, with the tear-arse RS5 – even tougher and faster than the S5, arriving closer to Christmas.
Audi A5 Coupe price and specifications
Price: $69,000 / $81,500 plus on road costs
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 140kW at 4200-6000rpm / 185kW at 5000-6000rpm
Torque: 320Nm at 1450-5200rpm / 370Nm at 1600-4500rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive/all-wheel drive
Fuel use: 5.5 L/100km / 6.5L/100km combined
Audi S5 Coupe price and specifications
Price: $105,800 plus on road costs
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol
Power: 260kW at 5400-6400rpm
Torque: 500Nm at 1370–4500rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Fuel use: 7.5 L/100km combined
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