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First drive: Audi A5/S5 – on sale now



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Audi’s product offensive is steamrolling through the premium sector. Its latest launch, the A5, has already rolled up its sleeves and entered the mid-sized coupe segment to scrap with the BMW 3 Series coupe and Mercedes-Benz CLK.

The A5 won’t struggle. It follows the basic formula for the segment, with powerful engines, decent driveability, sleek styling and four seats – although the restr-icted rear legroom means the back seat is really only suitable for children.

That fits, as Audi’s profiling of the target A5 customer shows almost exclusively male, middle-aged and married, earning a high net income, either with no children or kids at college. It hopes to tempt CLK and 3 Series drivers, but also expects some existing customers to move from their current A4 and A6.

They will find a much better drive, as A5 provides more driver feel than ever, and its poise and handling inspires confidence.

The ride is firm, befitting its sportier positioning, but does not become uncomfortable.

Audi UK expects to have sold 4,000 units by the end of the year, of which almost three quarters will be fleet. July saw the range launched with 4.2 V8 petrol and 3.0 TDI flagship models, plus the high performance S5.

Deliveries are expected this month of 3.2FSI petrol and 2.7 TDI versions. An entry-level 1.8T will be added early in 2008. That full availability means 2008 registrations are targeted at 8,000 units.

Price: £26,000 – £39,825
Engines: 2.7TDI: 187bhp; 3.0TDI: 237bhp; 3.2FSI: 261bhp; S5: 349bhp
Performance: 0-62mph: 5.1-7.6secs; top speed: 144-155mph
Transmission: 6 sp manual, CVT
Efficiency: 22.7-42.1mpg, 178-298g/km CO2
CAP RV: £15,675-£18,900 (48-50%)
Rivals: Mercedes CLK, BMW 3-series Strengths Technology, image, RVs
Weaknesses: Rear space
Opportunity: Build Audi sales
Threat: VED penalty for CO2 emissions
USP: Style over sensibility

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