Monday, 4 February 2013

TEST DRIVE-2011 A5 2.0 TDI Coupe

Head turning good looks!

Sleek, stylish, mature and absolutely elegant for a Coupe is what first sparks the brain. This A5 in deep sea pearl metallic blue sitting on 19" Y rims with silver grey Milano leather interior creates magnetism to your vision; a truly attractive machine!

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Sitting down in the cockpit makes you wonder; other premium brands can learn a few things from this display of finesse; finish is on par to surgical precision. Sharp and clear is the layout of the complete instrumentation of dials, switches, rotary controls and illuminated information for the driver to navigate.

Infotainment switches a blessing; easy to choose or to change entertainment/info/navigation as they use direct access instead of scrolling through an endless menu. IPod connection could have been better thought out; exercising a full torso stretch to the far end of the glove compartment is not always appreciated, especially midst the morning yawn on your daily commute.

With MMI (multi-media interface) navigation in all its glory, the dash really is a spectacle at night, although, the 7" display is nestled so well within the dash that it is hardly affected by the mega-light beating down from the sky.

Accommodation is superb front or back unless occupants at the rear are over 6ft tall; leather is in the premium league, as it should be; comfortable travelling any distances. A humongous boot with no crevices or bulges interfering the rectangular shape provide all the space needed for cross country journeys.

1.8 or 2.0 TFSI are the petrol entry levels into the A5 club and without going to V8 grunt, the 2.7 and 3.0 TDI Quattro are the V6 diesel power houses. But, the smart money goes to the 2.0 TDI we have here in our possession. 170 BHP on tap and torque in imagethe region of 258lbs/ft easily provide cross country runs with 42+ miles per gallon; including any driving style, whether or not a hooligan such as myself is behind the wheel. Have you seen the price of fuel lately? Then all that makes a lot of sense and if you combine that with CO2 at a respectable 134 g/Km together with start/stop, it’s no mystery that should keep the annual road tax to a comfortable low with no complaints from your bank account. If that’s not enough, the mid life refreshed styling brings improved figures of 175bhp, a remarkable economy of 60.1mpg as well as emitting 122g/km when mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

The oil burner under the bonnet is smooth by any standard, whether idle, crawling along or even with harsh driving, but what really gets my attention is the flow of torque delivery; it’s like turbo lag is non-existent. It feels like forced induction is provided by a supercharger and not a turbo charger, such is the will to flow along and not struggling until the turbo spools up. With the wheels rolling just above a stroll & in second gear, press down with your right foot & the engine pulls away effortlessly without any delays or waiting for additional power to kick in, I dare say, very similar to a normally aspirated engine.

Gear change, as in many VWs, is as mechanical and precise as they get but without any real engagement or attachment to the driver. Steering, on the contrary, does keep in sync with road feedback, providing a purposeful sense of direction as the car feels in motion on a set course with no over assistance or wandering. High speed runs give a sensation as if flowing down the motorway with steady traction on the straights as well as the bends; impressive for a front wheel drive which does not feel like a mass lump up front. Only those expansion joints on bridges with bends seem to upset the composure. Other than that, the A5 demands you pump the tunes through the Bang & Olufsen sound system, use all 6 gears and cruise on the outside lane-permanently.

imageWhizzing by from one Country to the next from the UK to Malta does provide some surprises along the way, road works, the occasional car crash but above all, the abrupt need to stop. Brakes here give the impression that they don’t agree with physics, harsh braking startle as everything around you seems to be flashing forward but the car has slowed to a stationary position; very quickly. This happens in such a graceful manner that the occupants don’t feel like being thrown forward. Pirelli P zeros do claim this car to the road & may have something to do with this, the grip is phenomenal.

Well in short, is this a fresh alternative to other premium brand coupes with four seats? Definitely.

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