Coupe push continues despite SUV swing

More spec, sharpened prices but fewer variants and a lower volume expectation – it’s the new A5 and S5.
Friday April 7, 2017

By Richard Bosselman

FEWER versions this time reflects impact the crossover abdication has had on sales of a sporty medium Audi, the distributor concedes.

Yet even though Giltrap Group affiliate Audi New Zealand has revised volume for its A5 coupe and five-door fastback to a maximum 90 registrations per year, it remains confident the line still has relevance, no least in its raciest formats.

However, the sights have been lowered. The diesel is now defunct – the outgoing one having been divested six months ago – there’s no entry 185kW 2.0-litre petrol coupe this time and everything’s gone Quattro now.

Also, despite a big lift in specification and a sharpened sticker, it’s not inconceivable the most mainstream model and the only one under $100,000, the A5 Sportback format (also with the 185kW/370Nm engine), could yet become the most niche version this time, brand boss Dean Sheed agrees.

This time more fans might focus on the $23,000 more expensive, and more exhilarating, S5 – here in Coupe and Sportback styles – and others will bypass both and hang on for the ultimate experience, the hot RS5 he hopes to have in stock by Christmas.

How it goes, diesel has been dumped because of the switchover to crossovers, Sheed says.

“We think it is a petrol market. Most of those buyers who want a diesel at the $100,000 level will go for a SUV.

The rise, and rise and rise of SUV has had an effect – they are now 50 percent of our mix.

The A5’s brother is the Q5, he continues, “and we will have a new one of those out mid-year. We are already selling bucketloads of diesel Q5s in the current format so most.

“We probably won’t get to 100 (A5 sales) a year but, if we can get 80-90, I’ll be happy. We sold about 1000 of the old car in its lifespan. There is still a chunky carpark out there and people still like the look.”

Audi’s popular Virtual Cockpit multi-configurable digitised instrument panel, delivering a 12.3-inch high-res colour display in place of the regular analogue dials, is standard on all locally bound cars.

Other advancements include a revised MMI central controller interfacing with a tablet-style central screen, tri-zone climate control with dash-wide outlets and LCD readouts set within the knobs; metallic rocker switches and the use of acoustic windscreen material.

The $98,400 entry car has a seven-speed dual clutch transmission and runs 18-inch alloy wheels. It has triple zone climate control, keyless entry and start, Nappa leather upholstery, Xenon headlights with LED daytime driving lights, an electric tailgate, an S Line exterior package and S Line sports package, satellite navigation, sports seats and Audi's impressive "Virtual Cockpit" 12-inch display.

The S5 Coupe and Sportback that cost $122,900 are powered by a 260kW/500Nm 3.0-litre petrol turbo V6 that also comes in the S4 sedan. This runs through an eight-speed automatic. Audi claims the S5 Coupe – the A5 flagship until the RS5 arrives – is as fast as the previous RS4 Avant.

On top of the A5's standard equipment, the S5 gets 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive damping control, LED headlights and taillights, rear privacy glass, S sports seats, a head-up display and red brake callipers.

All the cars take latest safety and driver assist systems as standard as well, with Audi's Pre-Sense accident avoidance and mitigation system, Side Assist, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assistant, turn assist, active lane assist, rear cross-traffic alert and exit warning. S5 models also get park assist and a 360 degree camera.

The new A5 gets a more aggressive and heavily stylised nose that makes it quite distinctive from the A4 - an intentional decision, as Audi has found that the A5's design was a major influence in purchase, so have reinforced the A5's design-led intentions with the new model.

Weight is down between 40kg (A5) and 60kg (S5), due in part to an increase in the use of aluminium and ultra high-strength steel.

Length and wheelbase extend by 47mm to 4673mm and 13mm to 2764mm respectively over the outgoing model, but height and width contract by 1mm and 8mm respectively. 

Suspension on both axles is a variation of the latter’s five-link independent setup, with a lower-riding sports suspension and adaptive dampers on offer at extra cost. An electromechanical power steering system has been developed, with a variable-ratio ‘dynamic’ setup also available on some variants. 

The S5’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system comes with a self-locking centre diff, and in normal mode sends 60 percent of torque to the rear; it can redirect up to 85 percent rearwards and 70 percent frontwards as traction requirements dictate. 

Adaptive dampers, specific suspension tuning, a big brake upgrade (six-piston callipers and 350mm vented front discs/two-piston callipers clamping on 330mm rear discs) and an available Quattro sport differential complete the performance picture.