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  • 2008 Audi A5 Coupe

    Posted on July 9th, 2008 ninarussin

    Style meets performance in Audi’s newest luxury coupe.
    By Nina Russin

    2008 Audi A5

    2008 Audi A5

    Last year Audi rolled out two luxury sports coupes loosely based on the 2003 Nuvolari quattro concept. Both the A5 and S5 ride on the same chassis, but the A5 comes with a 3.2-liter, 265-horsepower V6, versus a 354 horsepower V8 in the S5. A turbo-diesel version of the A5 is available in Europe.

    Though the A5’s zero-to-sixty acceleration is a second slower than its sportier sib, six seconds is nothing to sneeze at. The A5 also gets better gas mileage: about 21 miles-per-gallon on average. Since both engines require premium fuel, the difference in fuel economy has a big impact on cost of operation.

    A six-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection is standard, as is Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive. Under normal driving conditions, quattro maintains a 40/60 front-to-rear weight balance. On wet or uneven roads, the system automatically transfers engine power to the wheel or wheels with the best traction.

    Base price on the test car is $41,200. Options and a $775 delivery charge bring the MSRP up to just over $50,000. Options include nineteen-inch wheels with a sport suspension, sport tires, sport seats, and special badging ($2900), GPS navigation ($2390), bi-xenon headlamps, auto-dimming mirrors, and heated front seats with position memory ($1850), rearview parking camera, adaptive headlamps, and advanced key ($1700).

    Head-turning exterior

    Though black paint is never my first choice in the middle of a Phoenix summer, I have to admit that the A5 is quite a looker. Proportions borrowed from the Nuvolari concept give the A5 a unique profile that can’t fail to turn heads. A large sweeping arc dominates the side view: the car’s long hood and short rear end allowed engineers to optimize front-to-rear weight balance and handling.

    Up front, wide, horizontal headlamps frame a trapezoidal grille, with large air inlets in the bottom corners. Wide taillamps in back give the car a wide, planted stance, like and animal about to pounce.

    Driver-focused interior

    Audis are very much driver’s cars: the interior integrates elements from the automaker’s race cars into a high-luxury environment. Paddles on the back of the steering wheel allow the driver to shift F1 style. Redundant audio controls on the wheel can vary audio volume or change programming.

    The driver can also shift conventionally, using a lever on the floor console. An electronic parking brake control next to the gear shift eliminates a heavier, space consuming mechanical brake.

    A memory function that comes with the premium option package allows up to two drivers to store seat and mirror positions. The same option package adds front seat heaters, and automatic dimming and folding side mirrors.

    The standard smart key stores information about the car’s electrical system, which technicians can use when the car goes into the dealership for service. An advanced key option on the test car adds keyless access to the car and keyless start.

    Audi’s MMI system operates similar to a personal computer: it integrates media and navigation controls into a single mouse. A screen at the top of the center stack displays audio settings, navigation maps, and a wide angle camera view to the rear of the car when the driver shifts into reverse.

    Lines superimposed over the camera image show the direction the vehicle will move in, based on wheel position. Using the system, the driver can back into a tight parking spot without having to look back or use the rearview mirrors.

    The standard audio system includes an in-dash 6 disc CD changer and Sirius satellite radio. The ten-speaker surround-sound system is comparable in quality to a high-end home system. Other standard comfort features include dual-zone climate control, and a sunroof with sunshade.

    There is one twelve volt powerpoint: the cigarette lighter.

    Both rows of seats have enough cup and bottle holders: there are two cupholders in the floor console, two next to the middle pillar for rear passengers, and bottle holders in the doors. Reading lamps and climate controls are also designed to accommodate four passengers.

    Unfortunately, the back seats are extremely difficult to climb in and out of. Though head and shoulder room are adequate, legroom is scarce. 

    Unique driving experience

    Engineers made extensive use of lightweight construction materials to keep the A5 nimble: its light weight and high torsional rigidity make for an exhilarating driving experience.

    Fuel injectors deliver fuel directly into the engine cylinders rather than outside the valves, for faster throttle response. Variable valve timing allows the engine to shift between two sets of cams: a high profile one for aggressive driving, and a low profile cam to maximize fuel economy while cruising.

    Steering feedback from the rack-and-pinion system is exceptional. There is plenty of assist at slower speeds for maneuvering through crowded parking lots. At high speeds, on-center feel is excellent. It’s easy to weave through high-speed traffic, and swerve out of the way of potential accidents.

    The sport suspension and larger wheels keep the car extremely flat in the corners. I was able to take a decreasing radius turn on a cloverleaf at over seventy miles-per-hour: the car remained completely stable and in control.

    Spacious cargo area

    The A5 has a deep, wide trunk. Levers near the trunk opening release the rear seats. They fold completely flat without removing the headrests to extend the cargo floor. I didn’t try putting a bike in the trunk, though it’s probably possible. The high liftover height would make loading a bike inside difficult. A roof rack or rear mounted hitch would be a better option.

    Standard safety

    Though the A5 has not yet gone through NHTSA’s crash test program, it is well equipped with active and passive safety features, including front, knee, side and side curtain airbags. All models come with electronic stabilization program, antilock brakes, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

    The technology option package adds adaptive headlights, that automatically light corners of the road according to steering wheel position. I can’t say enough good things about this feature. I find it useful in rural areas where two-lane roads are narrow and poorly lit, and on suburban side streets which can also be dark, making it hard to see pedestrians and cyclists at intersections.

    The A5 is produced at Audi’s Ingolstadt, Germany assembly plant

    Likes: A perfectly balanced sport coupe with exceptional ride, handling and steering response.

    Dislikes: Back seats are hard to get in and out of, and lack legroom.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Audi
    Model: A5 Coupe 3.2 quattro AT6
    Year: 2008
    Base price: $41,200
    As tested: $50,815
    Horsepower: 265 Hp @ 6500 rpm
    Torque: 243 lbs.-ft. @ 3250 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: 5.9 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Towing: No
    Off-road: No
    Fuel economy: 18/27 mpg city/highway
    Comments: Base price does not include a $775 delivery charge.

     

    48 responses to “2008 Audi A5 Coupe”

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