According to the all-knowing digital oracle Google, on the web there are 97,400 instances of someone writing the words ‘understated’ and ‘Audi’ within close proximity of each other.
Blimey, I’m bored of it. Audis aren’t understated.
And if you’re driving about in a new A5, with its muscled lines and diamanté LED running lights shining in everybody’s face, then slipping unnoticed under the radar just isn’t feasible.
It’s about as understated as an orange WAG during a mammoth Chardonnay and shopping trip on a Cheshire town high street.
It seems Audi is bored of the understated tag, too.
Modern luxury isn’t understated.
It’s in your face, showing off how glamorous, rich and sexy you are and Audi wants plenty of that very profitable business.
As a result, its cars are confident and forthright.
With the A5, there’s no doubt it has hit that showy mark.
It is a very good-looking car.
Thrusting and bold, it reeks of power –mechanically and emotionally.
It doesn’t have the slinky lines of the BMW 3 Series Coupé, but be sure this is very much the car Audi had in mind when it was putting together the proposition for the A5.
The 3 Series Coupé has to be one of the most popular executive cars of modern times.
It is the very essence of corporate cool – stylish, urbane and successful.
To go up against it, Audi has kept to much of what has made it such a resurgent brand over the last decade.
That means quattro four-wheel drive, interior build quality of the highest order and competitive diesel engines.
The 3.0 TDI on test here is one of two models available at launch, the other being the 354bhp 4.2-litre S5, but the diesel variant is by no means outclassed.
With 240bhp and 368lb-ft of torque at only 1,500rpm (compared to the S5’s 325 at 3,500), the A5 has some serious quick-twitch muscle off the line and, in anything but dry conditions, quattro certainly helps.
It’s a shame that at present it is only offered with a manual gearbox, because it is crying out for that lovely smooth Tiptronic ‘box to make the most of its prodigious shove.
The manual gearbox is typically Audi. Perfectly accurate but too light, as is the clutch, and changes take some concentration to smooth out.
Also, the automatic parking brake takes some getting used to in the manual.
The interior is excellent and moves the game on a step, even by the high standards of Audis in this price range.
The classy slivers of aluminium, solid thick plastics and a little more curve in the MMI switches are all very classy, along with some superbly comfortable as standard leather seats.
This is a very nice place to be indeed.
As for the way it drives? It really shifts, but manages 40mpg without too much trouble.
Quattro splits drive 60/40 rear to front and you will never be short of traction or grip.
It still feels a little clinical against the more sensuous BMW but that’s only at the very edges of performance.
In everyday driving the A5 is a fast, comfortable and composed car. And with those LED headlights scowling at other cars, it was clear how quickly they seemed to veer out of your way.
It seems Audis are getting noticeable after all.
P11D value: £33,175
CO2 emissions (g/km): 191
BIK % of P11D in 2007: 28%
Graduated VED rate: £205
Insurance group: 17
Combined mpg: 39.3
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £14,350/43%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £612
THREE RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The BMW 330d Coupé has traditionally been the benchmark. The Mercedes-Benz CLK is another classic coupé with presence and performance but it seems Audi has pitched in first time with a car of equal standing. The Brera is cheaper and daintier, but smaller.
EMISSIONS AND TAX RATES
The quattro system and high power makes the A5 relatively high-emitting.
The CLK has a fairly low CO2 but again the BMW is streets ahead at £2,791 a year for a 40% taxpayer, £160 ahead of the much cheaper Brera and around £400 and £900 less than the CLK and A5.
Thanks to the Service Inclusive package, the BMW is the cheapest for service, maintenance and repair by around £500 compared with the Audi and the Mercedes-Benz. The Alfa Romeo’s SMR costs are really very high. Unfortunately, it’s a reflection of Alfa’s reputation for poor reliability.
330d: 4.33 (pence per mile) / £2,598 (60,000 miles total)
A fast, big coupé averaging around 40mpg is doing well, and the A5 certainly manages this. The Brera’s smaller engine and lower weight sees it achieve 41.5mpg, but the BMW is again streets ahead at 46.3mpg on the combined cycle, which is just staggering.
330d: 9.71 (pence per mile) / £5,826 (60,000 miles total)
The Brera depreciates the least, thanks to its lower front-end price and the relative scarcity of them on the used market. The others are all closely matched, with the CLK’s later point in the lifecycle slightly counting against it. But the A5 is a match for the 330d and CLK.
Brera: 26.34 (pence per mile) / £15,804 (60,000 miles total)
Due almost exclusively to its performance in the depreciation section, the Brera is the cheapest to run, but then it is £6,000-plus cheaper at the front-end. But only by £1,400 from the 330d. The CLK and A5 are closely matched, with the fuel a high cost for the Audi.
Brera: 43.01 (pence per mile) / £25,806 (60,000 miles total)
The Brera might be the cheapest to run, but it is too small inside and, despite its looks, doesn’t have the cachet of the others.
The rest are very closely matched in terms of driving dynamics and image.
The BMW is cheaper to run, as well as being lower on tax and looking gorgeous. The A5 would be a fine choice too, but the BMW would be our pick.