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Road test: Audi A5 40 TDi coupe is a style statement without excess

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In a world of SUVs, crossovers and the move to electrification, the art of automotive sculpture has gone amiss. But not for Audi.

The German brand’s latest A5 was introduced to South Africa late last year and it remains a niche vehicle. A coupe has limited use for elderly drivers (too low to get into) or families (tricky rear-seat access).

The Audi A5 40 TDi coupe: ‘Terrifically elegant’

What the A5 offers is a style statement without excess. Unlike many large luxury SUVs, with their imposing grilles and distasteful exterior styling garnishes, the A5 is terrifically elegant.

In a world of too many garishly overstyled cars, the A5 is a choice example of purposeful restraint.

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DEVOURING BIG DISTANCES

The core appeal is Audi’s clever product specification, with the A5 turbodiesel coupe. It is not marketed as a driver’s car, with dramatic performance. This Audi is meant to be a comfortable cruiser, with great presence, whether rolling along – or parked outside a trendy café.

Driving the A5 40 TDi coupe is a reminder of how much we compromise for crossovers’ occasional gravel travel ability. With its low centre of gravity and taut two-door structure, the A5 is agile, stable and not terribly bothered by mid-corner bumps.

It excels as a cruiser. The two-litre turbodiesel engine is not outrageously powerful, but its combination of 140kW and 400Nm work well enough to power the 1520kg coupe along swiftly enough.

Don’t expect the crushing overtaking acceleration of Audi’s V6 and V8 engined A5s, with this turbodiesel coupe. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is excellent at mediating driver inputs with available torque, but it’s not a rapid vehicle, despite the 0-100kph performance of only 7.3 seconds.

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The benefit of A5 coupe’s elegant shape and small-capacity diesel engine, is fuel economy. With a small front surface area and low levels of aerodynamic drag, the A5 40 TDi coupe delivers some remarkable cruising consumption, with the trip computer dipping below 7l/100km, in ideal conditions.

Gorgeously styled, wonderfully comfortable and truly capable of 600km in a single driving stint without requiring a refuel or rest for passengers, this Audi is a throwback to the classic grand touring coupe formula.

COMFY AND QUIET

Loaded with four occupants and their luggage the A5 40 TDi’s overtaking performance does blunt a touch. Still, it is a sacrifice made worthwhile by low overall diesel consumption.

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The updated A5 range uses a more powerful computing module. The result is seamlessly device interfacing and voice-activated commands, which are rarely misunderstood.

Audi’s 12.3-inch instrumentation binnacle – or ‘virtual cockpit’ – is very kind to the eyes. If you are going to spend a day driving in varying light conditions, from Joburg to Cape Town, this is the quality of digital display you want to experience. The A5 Coupe delivers a very low driver fatigue co-efficient.

And the colour? It is called turbo blue and best of all, it is a no-cost upgrade on the A5. At R869 500, the A5 40 TDi coupe is one the best looking vehicles you can buy, under R1m. And it drives with an ease and quality, which makes most SUVs feel significantly compromised on anything but gravel roads, by comparison.

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