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January 18, 2010 - Autos

Robert Eckaus
Audi A5 Quattro coupe review and test drive - sublime perfection

When the interior of the car you're driving puts a smile on your face and you don't mind that you could have had another 140 horsepower, it's immensely satisfying. The Audi A5 is a luxury coupe that must be driven to be appreciated.

Although not as aggressively styled as it's 354HP sibling: the S5, it has beautiful lines with some classy exterior touches. The headlight and tail-light assemblies have LED accent lighting which are quite distinctive and the body lines are subtly aggressive.

Opening the hood, the 211HP 4-cylinder engine seems properly placed as opposed to past and current Audi models that appear to have too much mass in front of the wheels. Not that Audi's have flawed designs, its that the A5 engine bay with the 2.0 liter engine just looks "proper". The trunk is roomy and nicely finished as well with hidden hinges.

The interior should be called a occupant interface environment instead of a cockpit. The 8-way power seats are excellent with adjustable lower thigh support. The right hand falls naturally to the control wheel and buttons for the Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) navigation and system. Voice control for the phone, 3D navigation and iPod integration with a 40-GB hard drive are among it's many features with a beautiful 7" display screen. If think you don't need a vehicle navigation system because you have your own handheld, check out the features of the vehicle system integration available at your fingertips. It also includes a television tuner! Reaching for the dial and buttons isn't necessary like a dashboard mounted system. There are also separate controls for the heating and air conditioning since those are accessed more frequently by both passengers.

The outward view in all directions is excellent and I'm now a big fan of back-up cameras. What happened to turning around and looking behind you and using mirrors? This camera has a fish-eye lens that allows you to see past the rear of tall trucks and SUVs that park next to you when backing out of a parking space. The other reason is so you can avoid small children trailing behind lousy parents in parking lots.

The rear window view made me think of the difference vs. a recent view of the Cadillac CTS-V sedan pictured in the slideshow. The upcoming CTS coupe sits 2" lower and if that means the roofline is even lower, a back-up camera should be mandatory. I still say the non-V coupe will be a failure and the coupe production will be a financial mistake. Read more here.

Rear seat room is limited but well laid out considering the size of the car. 6-footers must sit in front not unlike any other small coupe.

This car was finished in Aluminum "Hologram" interior which resembles a carbon fiber pattern. One complaint about carbon fiber interior finishes I've heard is it's propensity to scratch. While it looks nice, it's still an overlay for looks instead of structural rigidity. The aluminum is a nice alternative.

Driving the car was a delight. I was half-expecting massive turbo lag after a bad experience with a Volkswagen Passat 1.8 turbo rental. Instead power response was immediate and fantastically tuned with throttle pedal travel. As my foot moved, the car responded urgently yet very smoothly. Credit must be given to 258 ft lbs of torque from 1500 to 4200rpm. It was quiet and virtually lag-free. Despite requiring 91 octane gas, a 22mpg city and 30mpg highway and a 17.17 gallon tank makes it very satisfactory daily driver.

Acceleration above 70mph was little soft but if track days, 100mph blasts, and drag racing are not your on your radar, 211HP and a bit over 3583lbs works great in the daily grind of commuting. All-wheel drive is nice to have as well.

Another very attractive aspect was the $1,450 sport package which include 19" wheels and 255/35 tires, sport front seats with lumbar support, sport suspension and shift paddles for the 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. A bargain if there ever was one.

The sport suspension made itself apparent in two notable ways. The ride over a particularly bumpy road was firm yet didn't shake or crash. The owner reported his previous generation BMW M3 (E46 2000-2007 model years) was quite bad over the same road. Hitting an off ramp at a high speed, there was no lateral shift in the chassis due to slop or tolerances in the suspension components. It was incredibly confidence inspiring.

There is so much more to the technological aspects of the car than can be discussed but if a luxury coupe is what you're looking for, the Audi should not be overlooked. For more detailed information on the A5 coupe from Audi USA click here.

Have a question about cars you would like answered? Want to know about performance, racing, modifying, shopping, makes, models, events, etc? Send an email over to: AskRobAboutCars@gmail.com and I'll do my best to answer your question and publish it here on soakonline.com!

Keywords: Audi, A5, S5, Cadillac, CTS, CTS-V, BMW, M3, Volkswagen, Passat, 1.8, turbo
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