Chasing the unexpected.
Chasing the unexpected.
One refreshing drive in the new A5.
One refreshing drive in the new A5.
By: D. Momanaee
Photos: AUDI AG
I was headed east to Audi of America headquarters in Virginia, flying high above the dry lake beds in Southern California, when the pilot came on the loudspeaker to tell us we’d reached our cruising altitude. Rob, the product specialist for my test drive of the all-new Audi A5, pointed toward the window.
“That’s where they shoot the commercials for coupes like these. Figure eights, professional driver on a closed course, dust flying everywhere… In the unlikely event you’re in a dry lake basin and you need to do burnouts, you’re covered. Too bad that’s not where people actually drive these things.”1
The next morning, with the slow motion feeling of those dated coupe commercials on my mind, I arrived at Audi, where the all-new 2018 Audi A5 awaited me. Just walking around the exterior of the vehicle, I got the sense that this machine is truly fond of the accelerator.
Any question of how this vehicle could improve upon its classic predecessor was put to rest immediately. The sheet metal on the 2018 Audi A5 coupe feels like it was stretched to fit the frame, building a dramatic tension in the design that wasn’t there in the previous Italian-styled coupe. The flat front and the vertical “teeth” of the new Singleframe® grille cut a sporty, aggressive look.
Also new to the 2018 Audi A5 is its striking power dome, which gives the hood a forward direction and shows that this is a true Grand Tourer in a class of its own. The clamshell hood fits almost impossibly well, and the striking, redesigned headlights sit right above the grille to outline an aggressive but focused countenance—like a wildcat lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce.
The side of the vehicle is a celebration of modern design, yet it maintains a timeless beauty that will last. While it looks fast, the 2018 Audi A5 coupe favors style over fast fashion. The sculpted body lines look like they were carved out of marble and then twisted by a giant taffy puller. Huge rear wheel arches emphasize the four-wheel drive pedigree of quattro®. Even the rear fenders are incredibly three dimensional, giving the car a very progressive look and a slippery 0.29 coefficient of drag. All of this came across before I even opened the driver’s door.
As in the 2017 Audi A4, I was greeted by the available Audi virtual cockpit and all the luxury that I expect from the Audi Brand. The interior—and the trunk—has been engineered somehow to be more accommodating than the outgoing model. The yacht-style gear selector2 is placed to help support your wrist while you use the MMI® rotary control, and every function, from the satisfying click of a radio preset to the clever way the door handle opens in the direction it is pulled, is clearly designed with ergonomics and usability in mind. There’s thicker baffling on the doors to make the ride quieter in any and all modes. Seamless touches like the safety belt presenters and available Bang & Olufsen® sound system with 3D sound instill a subtle confidence from the moment you take the driver’s seat.
Desperate to answer the call of the beautiful, pulsing machine before me, I grabbed the keys. We took off onto some back roads of the DMV, Rob following in a second A5. Yerrrrrrrrrm.
I’d forgotten how much I love autumn on the East Coast. I cracked the huge panoramic sunroof that comes standard on the coupe, letting in sunlight and fresh air filtered through the yellowing chestnut oaks, and then put the vehicle in Sport mode, which stiffened the steering and gave me increased throttle response for enthusiastic performance1 around the Shenandoah Valley.
Engaging the turbocharged 252 hp of the updated seven-speed S tronic® automatic transmission to pass a tractor on a straightaway was like cutting through butter with a laser welder.1 In fact, the throttle and the instantaneous shifts of the dual-clutch S tronic® in the new Audi A5 were so welcoming that I was thankful for reminders—from the available Traffic Sign Recognition in the Audi virtual cockpit—about the relatively low speed limit of these farm roads.
With open, twisting asphalt ahead of me again, I flicked the accelerator, 1 chose a line and took a quick corner at the speed limit. Pushing the Audi A5 in and out of hairpins, the incredible stability of the steering along with the symphony of the exhaust note and the poised stance of the driving position gave me a confidence I rarely experience as an amateur driver. With the quattro® system below, I smiled and loosened my white knuckles.
With the engine already downshifting, I only needed to tap the brakes before the turn in, the steering in Sport mode so firm and supportive, and it gave me the smooth, progressive maneuvering I had felt while driving with professionals but never while behind the wheel myself. After cornering like a pro, and instructing my passenger to make some surreptitious gestures at Rob in the car behind, I felt desperate to try the six-speed manual option but unfortunately have to wait until it becomes available for purchase.
As the back roads turned to gravel roads, I engaged the Comfort mode and took it slow, the available adaptive suspension more than capable of helping to smooth out the ride. Available Traffic jam assist inspired patience when I was again caught behind farming equipment on the one-lane dirt road.
The best part about driving the all-new Audi A5 was not physical but philosophical. The vehicle defines the line between beauty and attraction, between want and need. And with so many trim choices and available Coupe, Cabriolet and Sportback body styles, I know that I need one. Now, I just have to decide which one.
1Always obey all speed and traffic laws.
2Before exiting the vehicle, always make sure the vehicle is shifted into Park, and the parking brake is set. See owner’s manual for important details.