Latest Audi A5 ranges set the efficiency standard
Subtle re-sculpting and significant re-engineering will enable new generation Audi A5 and S5 Sportback, Coupe and Cabriolet models to slip even more elegantly, more nimbly and more cleanly through the air. Beyond their measured exterior and interior styling updates, infotainment technology advances and chassis modifications, the three ranges are also characterised by CO2 emission reductions of up to 22 per cent thanks to new and heavily revised engines and additional efficiency measures. UK orders for the new A5 and S5 models, which will be priced from £25,540 OTR, can be taken from September, ahead of first deliveries in December.
The key objective in updating the three ranges was to deliver major gains in efficiency without compromising on performance that fulfils the promise in the taut and muscular lines of the A5. This has been achieved primarily by introducing two new engines and completely redesigning others, but also by extending engine start-stop technology right across the range and replacing the hydraulic power steering system with a new electromechanical unit that demands no engine input when the wheel is in the straight-ahead position.
In realigning the engine range, Audi has remained true to its philosophy of using forced induction to compensate for cubic capacity in the interest of economy. The existing naturally aspirated 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine has been replaced by a new 272PS version of the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 unit in A5 Coupe and Cabriolet variants. The existing 333PS version of this engine, which already powers the S5 Sportback and S5 Cabriolet, will also now replace the 4.2-litre, naturally aspirated V8 in the S5 Coupe.
Equipped with its new and 20 per cent more efficient engine, and with standard S tronic twin clutch transmission in common with its Sportback and Cabriolet counterparts, the S5 Coupe can power to 62mph from rest in 4.9 seconds – a 0.2-second improvement over its V8-powered predecessor – on the way to a governed 155mph top speed. Combined fuel economy stands at 34.9mpg, a significant improvement over the tiptronic V8 Coupe’s 26.4mpg.
Completely redesigned entry engine
At the other end of the spectrum, the entry level 1.8-litre TFSI unit, which will be available across the ranges, has been completely redesigned. It features ground-breaking innovations in many areas, including control of the valves and their lift, thermal management, fuel injection, turbocharging and the integration of the exhaust manifold. With power increased from 160PS to 170PS, it effectively replaces the 180PS version of the four-cylinder 2.0-litre TFSI engine, and in the A5 Coupe combines best-in-class 49.6mpg economy potential with a 21 per cent reduction in CO2 output to 134g/km CO2.
The four-cylinder, 2.0-litre TFSI engine continues in 211PS form in all variants, offering up to 44.1mpg with CO2 emissions of as little as 149g/km.
New to the diesel-powered line-up is the 204PS version of the acclaimed 3.0-litre V6 TDI which has already brought exceptional economy and efficiency to the A6 Saloon, A7 Sportback and A8 luxury saloon. Replacing the outgoing 2.7-litre, 190PS V6 TDI, it can deliver up to 57.6mpg at the expense of just 129g/km of CO2 when it is installed in the front-wheel-drive A5 Coupe. The existing 3.0-litre TDI unit which works in conjunction with quattro all-wheel-drive also continues in upgraded 245PS form.
The efficiency standard-bearer in the new range will undoubtedly be the heavily modified 2.0-litre TDI, which with the potential for up to 60.1mpg and emissions of just 122g/km in the manual transmission A5 2.0 TDI Coupe sets new standards in the class.
Upgraded quattro system
As before, six-speed manual, seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch and eight-speed multitronic CVT transmissions will feature depending on the engine chosen, as will quattro all-wheel-drive. The 2012 Model Year A5 ranges upgrade to the latest system combining the crown gear centre differential - first seen in the RS 5 - with torque vectoring for even more effective torque distribution. The quattro system is offered as an optional extra for the 2.0-litre TFSI 211PS petrol and 2.0-litre TDI 177PS units, and as standard in conjunction with 3.0-litre TFSI 272PS and 3.0-litre TDI 245PS engines. As is always the case, the S models are quattro-equipped by definition.
Availability of the quattro rear sports differential, which further enhances agility and adjustability by enabling torque to be apportioned between the rear wheels, also now extends to all quattro-equipped models in the latest ranges.
With or without the quattro advantage the latest A5 models will cover ground even more effectively thanks to revisions to the predominantly aluminium lightweight suspension, and most notably to the damper settings and rear suspension bearings.
Especially keen drivers can specify the Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system, which in its standard form allows them to fine-tune the amount of power steering assistance, the response of the throttle and the automatic transmission’s shift points. In its latest form, the system adds a fourth ‘Efficiency’ option to its settings list, which originally offered ‘Comfort’, ‘Auto’ and ‘Dynamic’ modes. In the Efficiency mode, all the above functions, plus the air conditioning unit, are configured for minimal power consumption.
If optional satellite navigation is fitted, Audi drive select also incorporates a fifth ‘Individual’ setting which allows even more precise tailoring of the various elements to suit personal preferences. For the ultimate in driver control, it will also be possible to specify additional ‘modules’ that add adjustable damping, variable ratio dynamic steering and the ability to fine-tune the sensitivity of the sport differential.
All three variants cut more of a dash visually too, thanks to gentle re-shaping of the bumpers, grilles, bonnets and front and rear light clusters which brings the A5 look subtly into line with the very latest Audi design language. The changes are particularly apparent in S line models, which now feature LED strip daytime running lights that virtually surround the headlight unit at the front, and newly designed LED strip lights at the rear. This striking light set-up can also be specified for all other versions at extra cost as part of a package that also includes adaptive swivelling headlights for improved corner illumination.
Further refined cabin ambiance
Inside, the A5 models have exceeded their own already regularly praised standards in their latest form. Among the detail changes to the premium quality cabin are new steering wheels, including an option for a flat-bottomed wheel, new steering column stalks and narrow chrome clasps framing the control elements. Also updated are the ignition key, the selector lever for the automatic transmission, the buttons for the optional Audi drive select system and seat heating/ventilation and the air conditioning and multifunction steering wheel controls. The bezels on the instrument cluster and centre console have a new finish, and there is also a new selection of upholstery and inlays.
The controls for the optional MMI navigation plus with its large hard drive, seven-inch colour monitor, 3D graphics and DVD player have also been improved. The number of hard buttons has been reduced from eight to four and the volume control now features a joystick cap for simpler track selection. Voice control and digital radio reception also received some fine-tuning.
Standard, SE and S line specification levels continue as before in Cabriolet and Sportback models, the latter now offering the extra cost option of three full seatbelts in the rear as an alternative to the existing two. The A5 Coupe previously offered a fourth Sport trim option, but now moves into line with its relatives.
An exciting new option available across the board is a high specification mobile phone interface offering online services, which not only brings a Google-powered Points of Interest search and navigation using Google Earth images, but also creates a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) hotspot within the A5 enabling occupants to connect phones and computers to the internet wirelessly.