Audi A5 heralds new A4
Audi's new A5 coupe will form the basis for the new A4 due to be launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show this autumn. Expect to see the two-door's sleek look transferred to the regular saloon, with the taut waistline and nose treatment essentially carried over. The A5 is Audi's new mid-sized coupe and it's aimed squarely at the likes of the BMW 3-series coupe and Mercedes CLK. As well as providing pointers to the look of the next A4, it ushers in a new engineering package, with a 'front-mid' installation for better weight distribution.
A 'front-mid' engine, you say?
Yes. Audi has long relied on front-wheel drive, and the new installation on the A5 is designed to improve the handling so its cars don't feel quite so stodgy through corners. The wheelbase is stretched, pushing the front axle forwards and the engine back, you see. It's a construction system that will be repeated on the next iteration of the A4, A6 and A8. Bearing in mind that Audi has been on form recently with the R8 supercar, TT coupe and RS4 sports saloon, we're hopeful that they've cracked the handling question at long last.
I like the look of the new A5, when can I buy one?
The new coupe arrives in July, priced from around £28,000 for the cheapest model and rising to some £40k for the S5. It uses the S4's naturally aspirated V8 and quattro drivetrain to make a pleasingly rapid coupe. Does it look good in the metal? Well, design boss Walter de'Silva called it 'the most beautiful car' he'd ever worked on, and we'd have to admit it does look smart. That rear three-quarters view can look a bit Lexusy, mind you.
What else has Audi got at the show?
Every stand at Geneva is bursting with news of green cars, and Audi's was no different. The A3 1.9 TDI E is a new, leaner A3 model with remapped engine management and taller gearing for some surprising economy benefits. It'll average 62mpg and emits a piffling 119g/km of CO2. It'll be available in three- and five-door Sportback guises this summer, for a similar price to the existing 105bhp diesel.
What else is Audi up to?
The brand is on fire at the moment - it sells 24 models and derivatives today, but that will rocket to 40 by the end of 2009. It's all part of a plan to push sales from 900,000 last year to 1.5 million by 2015. Reflecting the fragmentation of the market, Audi is busy plugging all the gaps in its range. The new A1 is being engineered to tackle the premium supermini segment hogged by the Mini, while mid-size 4x4 the Q5 will arrive in 2008.