Sex and sensibilities don’t always combine, but the 2017 Audi A5 2.0 TDI quattro coupe attempts to prove that they can co-exist.
This premium medium coupe manages to look both elegant and subtly aggressive. The shape is sleek, from the low and wide nose to the bootlid’s slight ducktail lip, while the side character lines that wave over subtly-pumped side haunches and the bonnet creases both add – to use designer-speak – some much-needed tension.
Yet behind the scenes lurks a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that claims to drink a Toyota Prius-challenging 4.6 litres per 100 kilometres on the official fuel consumption combined cycle, while standard AdBlue additives reduce particulate emissions.
Fashion with frugality, then, is clearly the remit of this A5 coupe model grade.
Vehicle Style: Sports coupe
Price: $73,900 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 140kW/400Nm 2.0 four-cylinder turbo-diesel | seven-speed dual-clutch
Fuel Economy Claimed: 4.6 l/100km | Tested: 6.9 l/100km
Priced from $73,900 plus on-road costs, the A5 2.0 TDI quattro is the least expensive all-wheel drive-equipped more grade available.
It adds $4000 over the entry-level A5 2.0 TFSI front-wheel drive model grade that boasts a same-sized engine and identical 140kW power output, but requires petrol rather than diesel. That's why this more expensive model also makes a healthier 400Nm of torque versus 320Nm for the more affordable of the Audi coupe pair.
On paper the diesel claims a 7.2-second 0-100km/h, which is also a tenth quicker than the petrol that further requires 0.9L more fuel for every 100 kilometres travelled.
We emphasise ‘on paper’ because diesel isn’t traditionally known as a sporty, driver’s pick. But can the A5 help move oilers past the reputation that precedes it?
- Standard Equipment: Keyless auto-entry, power windows and mirrors, multi-function trip computer, tri-zone climate control air-conditioning, leather trim with electrically adjustable front seats, cruise control, leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshifter, and auto on/off headlights and wipers.
- Infotainment: 12.3-inch driver colour screen and 7.0-inch centre screen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, twin USB and SD card inputs, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring, digital radio, satellite navigation, voice control and 10 speakers.
- Options Fitted: None.
- Cargo Volume: 465 litres.
Beyond longer doors with a frameless aperture, from the driver’s seat there is little to distinguish the A5 coupe from its A4 sedan stablemate. Thankfully there is little to complain about from either a quality or ergonomics perspective, with the 2.0 TDI quattro arriving without optional equipment yet still proving a fabulous place to sit.
Excellent plastics, tactile switchgear and high-resolution displays endow this cabin with a high-quality feel that never needs to rely on a surplus of standard kit to shine.
Audi’s excellent multi-electric-adjustable and leather-trimmed sports front seats do come standard, however, where they rank as optional in the most affordable A4 models. A driver sits low, yet is still afforded easy access and plenty of headroom.
Similarly, the superb Virtual Cockpit driver display comes as standard where it is also optional on cheaper A4 models. It completes one of the best infotainment systems in the business, with the driver effortlessly able to view navigation maps through the steering wheel while adjusting the digital radio on the centre screen, for example.
An alternative for some could be the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring, which allows an owner to plug-and-play on entry to the vehicle, leaving the phone’s maps to detect what’s in the calendar and sync the destination. Audi’s ‘one shot’ voice control is also one of the best systems around, though.
Where the 2.0 TDI quattro loses its direction somewhat is in its value equation. The cabin may be classy enough to not require some luxury items, but for the price more gear such as a head-up display (bundled with 16-speaker Bang and Olufsen audio and LED matrix headlights with auto-adaptive high-beam for $5600 extra), adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assistance (a package-option for $2470 extra) and heated front seats ($780 extra).
And where up front the A5 is mostly just like the A4, there is the argument that greater differentiation should exist between coupe and sedan.
The rear quarters of this coupe are obviously affected by an arched roofline that crimps headroom, and while the two-seat bench is nicely tilted upwards to aid under-thigh support, there isn’t a lot of room back there. Perhaps buyers could expect more up front in return. That said, tri-zone climate control with rear air vents is standard.
The boot also remains decently sized at 465 litres, indicating that this Audi is more about weekend-for-two luggage than ensuring rear riders stay comfortable.
- Engine: 140kW/400Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo diesel
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch, AWD
- Suspension: Independent front and rear
- Brake: Ventilated front and rear disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering
There is no mistaking the A5 2.0 TDI coupe for anything other than a diesel soon after the starter button is thumbed. The 2.0-litre turbo doesn’t lack refinement in a mainstream passenger car context, mostly navigating around the gravelly clatter that afflicts a fuel type more renowned for powering buses than Autobahn bruisers.
However, there is still no escaping the thrum at idle and slight vibrations that filter through to the cabin, both aspects of which fail to continue the interior’s premium vibes. On light throttle the thrum gets louder, before smoothening out as revs rise.
There is an irony, though, given this Audi engine gets quieter when hurried along, yet with a 4800rpm redline it does its best performance work well below that figure.
There is a fraction bit of turbo lag off the line – compounded by some jerky behaviour from the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission – but the 2.0 TDI then quickly makes the 400Nm of torque it delivers between 1750rpm and 3000rpm felt.
Even the 140kW of power is delivered from just 3800rpm, but it’s all over by 4200rpm. Compared with Audi’s petrols that soar towards 7000rpm, the slow-revving nature of this A5 means it never feels as fast as its 7.2sec 0-100km/h claim indicates.
This is a relaxed, efficient cruiser more than a properly sporty coupe. With Audi’s excellent three-mode adaptive suspension a $2210 option not fitted to this test vehicle, however, the standard suspension and 18-inch wheel and tyre combination proved less calm than expected. Ride quality is generally decent, with an obviously firm edge to body motions hinting at dynamic handling, but it can be jiggly at times.
The A5 does handle well, though. The steering is smooth and consistent, if not ultimately crisp and sharp, and the turbo-diesel far from overwhelms the Pirelli tyres and surplus all-wheel drive traction.
Combined with excellent body control and very little bodyroll, and this Audi can make decent progress down a twisty mountain pass. Going up that pass, however, exposes the diesel’s narrow power band and slight breathlessness in hauling a hardly-featherlight 1565kg medium car.
Perhaps because the handling demands the engine works hard, on-test fuel economy of 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres also wasn’t as good as anticipated. Even so, an A5 2.0 TFSI quattro – in five-door Sportback rather than coupe guise – tested weeks earlier returned 9.4L/100km on similar roads, so in that context it’s impressive.
ANCAP rating: N/A.
Safety Features: 10 airbags, ABS and ESC, front and parking sensors with rear-view camera and rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited km.
Servicing: Audi’s Genuine Care Service Plan includes a trio of services to three years or 45,000km at a fixed cost of $1670 – or an average $557 per dealership check-up.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
With 500Nm of torque, the C250 CDI Coupe is the best of the premium medium diesel coupes – just ensure Airmatic air suspension is optioned. But the 4 Series remains the driver’s car to beat, especially in (petrol four-cylinder) 430i specification.
The RC350 F Sport is an underrated all-rounder, with the sportiest driving position and BMW-challenging dynamics, and Audi-rivalling luxury with surplus standard equipment. But it is also cramped and its infotainment system is anti-ergonomic.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
There is a place in the A5 range for the 2.0 TDI quattro. For the owner who values style and quality teamed with performance and efficiency, but has the good sense to know that this coupe will rarely see a mountain pass, the diesel makes good sense.
However, such buyers are also unlikely to require all-wheel drive traction, in which case a $4000 saving for the more charming, front-wheel drive A5 2.0 TFSI probably makes even greater sense again.
This 2.0 TDI quattro arguably should be pitched with standard equipment to match its personality and ramp-up the allure – the petrol versions focusing on sportiness and the diesel on luxury, complete with smoother suspension and extra equipment.
Currently it is a bit austere yet expensive, efficient and competent yet without the performance distinction of the petrols that remain the Audi A5 coupes to drive for.
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