Friday, September 18, 2009

Behind the wheel of the Audi A5, an AutoWeek Drivers Log


The Audi A5 is powered by a 3.2-liter V6.

MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: I have an extremely difficult time pointing to another new car that I like as much as the Audi 5 lineup. The S5 is spectacular, and its little brother here is no joke, either. Cutting-edge style, one of the best interiors and driving positions available, solid and high-quality controls, quattro awd--a top-to-bottom winner in my book. The 3.2-liter V6 is not overwhelming, but it makes the A5 quick enough for almost any scenario short of a track day outing.

Clutch, brakes, shifter and steering are all top-notch, though the speed-sensitive steering leans toward the light side, at times feeling over assisted. Just about my only gripe. I have a suspicion this car will understeer a bit much on a track, but the balance allows for plenty of public-road-fun.


The only other car that caught my eye as I drove the A5 was a brand new BMW 1-Series driving past me in the opposite direction. Now that would be a fantastic one-two punch to have parked in your garage.

SENIOR EDITOR (NEWS) BOB GRITZINGER: I can point to one car we recently had in the AW garage as a close A5 competitor: the 2009 Infiniti G37x coupe. At $47,845, it's a bit less expensive than this A5, and at 330 hp it's considerably more powerful. The G's automatic gearbox detracts, but for most driver/commuters in the world today, an autobox is just fine.

The Audi has several other advantages, however, including its lighter weight (by 165 pounds), its superior, time-tested quattro awd system, and the inherent value of the Audi rings. That third one is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

Both cars are near-perfect all-weather luxury coupes, providing the owner with a year-round sports car capable of carrying a few extra passengers when necessary. The Audi seems a tad more precise in the steering and handling, but overall it'd be a close shave between the two cars, I bet. The Infiniti gives you more punch under the hood, but isn't quite as quiet and refined as the Audi. Both interiors are well-equipped and comfortable, and both cars are lights out in the styling department.

If I was buying in this range, I'd be hopping back and forth between dealerships trying to make my call. Choice is a good thing.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Personally I prefer the smaller Audis with the 2.0-liter turbo and the paddles, but I don't think that combo is available on the A5. That's a shame. That combo offers plenty of power and a lighter front end, and feels better balanced overall to me. I know the turbo four is coming to the A5 in Europe, not sure about here.

This car is gorgeous but not overly flashy and indeed offers a fine balance between sportiness and refinement. The ride is firm without beating you up (I left the suspension setting in auto) and the engine power band is a smooth one. The car's fine ride, smooth power and good looks make it tough to beat.

It is tough to find an interior this nice at nearly any price--there is not a hard shiny tacky plastic piece anywhere. The seats are superb as is the driving position.

This is a terrific car.

2009 Audi A5 3.2 quattro

In Fleet: March 12-26

As-Tested Price: $53,315

Drivetrain: 3.2-liter V6; AWD, six-speed manual

Output: 265 hp @ 6500 rpm, 243 lb-ft @ 3250-5000 rpm

Curb Weight: 3,682 lb

Fuel Economy: (EPA/AW) 20/19.4 mpg

Options: Audi drive select ($2950); Audi navigation system with color driver info display, Audi music interface, voice control ($2390); technology package including Audi rear parking system, adaptive headlights, advanced key keyless startup, Audi side assist ($2200); premium package including Homelink garage door opener, Xenon plus headlights, LED daytime running lights, autodimming & manual folding exterior mirrors, autodimming interior mirror with compass, heated front seats, memory for driver seat and mirror ($1900); genuine Milano leather seats ($1000); 19-inch alloy wheels w/ summer tires ($900); premium sound ($850); price increase credit (-$400)

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