Sharp looks can’t hide uninteresting drive of the new Audi A5

Inside and out, the new Audi A5 is spectacular, however the car just lacks driver engagement.

Things are not good right now in the German motor industry and last week’s announcement by Audi that they were recalling some 850,000 cars to update the software in Euro 5 and 6 engines, was indicative of how much a mess the likes of Mercedes, Audi and VW find themselves in right now.

VW, we all know to have been riven by the dieselgate scandal, while Mercedes announced recently that they too will be having a recall of every modern diesel they’ve made — about 3m of them. Three million. Yikes.

Just this week, Daimler, VW, BMW and the rest of the German automotive industry promised to update the software of 5m diesels to make them less polluting. The transport ministry will allow them keep these cars on the road.

For a motoring hack like yours truly, such scandals generally tend to put in perspective much of the hyperbole automotive companies tend to inject into their products and how much of the background stuff they like to brush under the carpet.

The ongoing travails of the Germans — although it has to be said BMW thus far remains untainted — serve as a very salutary lesson that telling porkies to the authorities and the buying public is not generally a very good idea. It usually comes back to haunt you.

Nevertheless, this week we test a car which is much beloved by owners who would no doubt be distraught if they were to get a letter from Audi recalling their beloved machine for ‘software updating’.

The Audi A5 is something of an enigma. It is a very beautiful thing — desirable to a fault — but bought mainly, it would seem, by older rich women with a misplaced power complex, thrusting executives of either sex and, sad to say, hairdressers.

It has always been a thing of beauty, but for anyone who liked their motoring to be of the hot tamales variety, the A5 never really cut it because it was too mushy to drive and never really liked being asked questions about its virility. It was more Chanel than Hugo Boss.

Certainly they’ve done S and RS versions, but while they were hairy-chested to a point, such A5s were largely scorned by those — the Jeremy Paxmans of the automotive cognoscenti — who like to ask the terribly difficult questions.

It was, in its way, a very milk and water thing and, if you were the press-on type then it was not much cop as a driving companion, but you did look good in it.

Coming back for a second bite at the cherry, Audi has done a lot to try and sharpen things up on the handling front and it has revised the preciously leaden steering as well. It has done a decent job, but the A5 stubbornly remains a thing of great beauty but not as good to drive as it looks.

Certainly Audi has upped the ante — much in the same way as it did with the A4 — on the sophistication front and the car, inside and out, oozes the sort of class that so many other manufacturers strive for and never attain. This has it in bags.

But, if you’re looking for driver engagement, then you might be better off looking elsewhere because while the Ingolstadt engineers have done wondrous things with the exterior look and have designed a cabin that must make most of the opposition retch with envy, they still have not made the car one which is terribly interesting to drive.

Certainly the 190 bhp two litre turbodiesel is very smooth to drive and partners with the ultra slick seven speed S-Tronic transmission, but the whole package lacks that grab-you-by-the-throat DNA which any sports saloon (or hatch) should have in spades.

It is all terribly nice, but it just doesn’t have the je ne sais quoi which sports-oriented cars are supposed to have and that means if you are a pedal-to-the-metal sort of driver, then this is not for you.

Rather it is for older rich women with a misplaced power complex, thrusting executives of either sex and, sad to say, hairdressers.

 

Colley’s verdict

3/5

The Cost: from €55,150 - €63,072, as tested.

The Engine: the 190 bhp version of the very familiar, two-litre TDi — although you’d probably be as well off with the 150 bhp version of the same unit, for less money.

The Specification: does anyone build interiors better than Audi do?

The Verdict: not a driver’s car.


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