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The Warsaw Voice » Society » January 16, 2008
AUTO: Audi A5 3.0 TDI Quattro
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And the Winner is… the Audi A5
January 16, 2008 By Bartosz Grzybiński   
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Attractive, powerful and a pleasure to drive, the new Audi A5 has proved one of the most impressive cars of 2007.

The vehicle was unveiled during last spring's Geneva Motor Show. This is the first coupe in the history of the brand-first but successful. It was immediately hailed as one of the most beautiful cars displayed at the show-a combination of a sporty feel and automotive elegance.

The Audi has well-balanced proportions. The carmaker's design philosophy is reflected by the A5's ratio of "two-thirds car body to one-third glass surfaces" and short overhangs, or a small distance between the axles and the front and rear of the car. Even though it is 4,625 mm in length and 1,372 mm in height, the Audi looks "light," with its mild molding across the whole length of its body. On the other hand, the car's aggressive, sporty feel is highlighted by its single-frame grille, a striking hallmark of the new A5 also known from other Audis. The grille is combined with an extended bumper, 19-inch lightweight wheels with 225/50 R 17 tires, a spoiler integrated with the trunk, narrow taillights, and double exhaust pipes. The design looks really attractive, if not sensational-especially when equipped with an optional feature in the form of daytime running lights that consist of a strip of eight light-emitting diodes running along the lower edge of the headlights and rising to the outside.

"The Audi A5 is the most beautiful car I have ever designed," says Audi chief designer Walter de'Silva-and I entirely agree with him.

The interior features a high level of elegance and good taste. The finishing materials, which include leather, suede, wood, aluminum and top-quality plastics, are of the highest standard. The dashboard and the center panel are easy to use, and all the indicators and switches are ergonomically planned. Not only the quality of the finish but also the way in which individual items are matched sets an example for other automakers to follow. The small steering wheel rests perfectly in the hand, and the profiled seats will hold you well as you negotiate Poland's winding roads. Even though this car is officially allowed to carry four people, sitting in the back is not very comfortable. After all, this is a coupe, not a van. However, the trunk is quite big, at 455 liters.

Finally, the most important thing-the way the car runs. A strange thing happened to me during the test-drive: the driving pleasure offered by the Audi coupe turned out to be no smaller (if not greater) than that of the BMW Series 3 coupe. For a long time, BMW had been the brand that epitomized driving pleasure for me (although the new BMW Series 3 coupe, designed by Chris Bungle, has its drawbacks), and I still think that BMW engines, transmissions, steering systems and suspension in general are the best. But up to now, no automaker could rival BMW whenever I compared different models in the same class. That changed when I got behind the wheel of the Audi A5.

What I like most about the Audi is its direct steering system, powerful and flexible engine and its safe Quattro drive with its sensational performance.

The turbocharged, 6-cylinder 3l/240 hp Common Rail diesel engine (at last!) delivers an impressive maximum torque of 500 Nm in the 1,500-3,000 rpm range, making it possible to accelerate the 1,610 kg vehicle from standstill to 100 kph in a brisk 5.9 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 kph. The engine is flexible, silent and economical. During the test-drive, average diesel fuel consumption was a moderate 8.6l/100km. What more can one ask for?

It turns out that, with Audi, even if you do not specifically ask for something, you'll get it anyway. The model fitted with a 3.0 TDI engine comes with Quattro all-wheel drive. Depending on the surface, this ultramodern permanent all-wheel drive-in which 40 percent of the power is distributed to the front wheels and 60 percent to the rear axle-can transfer more power to the front wheels within a fraction of a second when needed and keep the car from going into a skid. The Quattro drive not only increases safety, but also adds to driving pleasure, especially on curvy roads. Taking bends can be real fun thanks to the vehicle's large wheelbase (2,751 mm) and its springy, multi-arm suspension. The Audi holds the road superbly-as if it were glued to it.

The test-drive unit had a full range of comfort and safety features, including front, side and window airbags; ABS with EBV; ASR; ESP; electrically adjustable and heated seats; a satellite navigation system with a DVD player and a 7-inch screen; electronic air-conditioning; an MMI onboard computer; and top-class Bang & Olufsen stereo equipment. Unfortunately, all these extras jacked up the price from zl.211,000 in the basic trim level to over zl.260,000 in the test-drive unit. The price tag is the Audi A5's only drawback.

Overall, dozens of automotive designs were unveiled last year, including both completely new models and upgraded versions of existing car bodies and engines. The problem is that these new cars cannot really be compared because they are classified in different segments. For example, it would be difficult to compare the tiny Fiat 500 with the BMW 335Ci. But this does not alter the fact that, for me, the Audi A5 was the automotive hit of 2007.
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