Audi A5 2.0 TFSI Quattro (2008) review

Published:25 December 2008

Audi A5 2.0TFSI Quattro (2008) CAR review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

Audi’s dinked the A5’s old 1.8-litre base engine, and brought in this 2.0-litre turbo, that kicks off the range in 178bhp front-drive mode for £26,150. There’s also this 208bhp version, tested here with Quattro four-wheel drive.

Great-looking car, the Audi A5. Is it great to drive too?

The A5 is more than just a chopped-down A4. Take a peek behind the front seats and you’ll notice there’s significantly less legroom in the back. And that’s a legacy of Audi placing the engine further back in the chassis, so the A5 isn’t quite so nose-heavy as you might expect.

And that’s immediately apparent when you head into a corner. Sure, the steering is Audi's usual Mute n Lite™ affair, but those front wheels feel reasonably keen to dig in rather than scrubbing you into the trees. You might expect a bit of help from the back ones, given that they’re driven too, but for the 2.0 TFSI Quattro, Audi’s priority seems to be security rather than excitement.

So it’s not exciting. Is it comfortable?

The ride is firm but rarely harsh, though it suffers from the habitual Audi tendency to fall heavily into bigger depressions and potholes rather than skip lightly across them. It’s this unfortunate lack of polish that denies access to the club of dynamic excellence occupied by the likes of the BMW 3-series. There’s a rather long-winded gearshift to contend with too, but the engine’s plentiful torque means you don’t have to rely on cog-stirring to get the best out of the A5.

In fact, the engine is probably this car’s best aspect. It spins sweetly and seems to become quieter the harder you rev it. And there’s always plenty of acceleration on tap.

>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Audi A5 2.0TFSI first drive

It’s an Audi, so I’m expecting great things about the interior

It’s certainly a pleasant place in which to spend time, with plenty of expensive-looking (and feeling) surfaces despite the sense that Audi’s saved a bit of cash here and there (hard lower door casings, silver plastic doorhandles instead of alloy) compared with the old A4.

The Multi Media Interface continues to impress by being more intuitive than BMW’s iDrive, but the ergonomics elsewhere are slightly suspect. I’m thinking in particular about the overloaded heater controls, that always demand a push then a twiddle, and about the crowded footwell. Maybe it’s that set-back engine, or maybe it’s that space is needed for the four-wheel drive gubbins, but there’s not much room left for your left foot and Audi doesn’t provide a footrest either. I suffered an ache in my left lower back as a result on a long journey.

Verdict

It’s a genuinely likeable car, the A5, quite possibly the most impressive car Audi builds short of the R8. And it works particularly well with this four-cylinder engine, which is smooth, refined, delivers decent economy and certainly feels quick. Just take a look at that 0-62mph time.

Whether it’s worth investing in Quattro four-wheel drive is another matter. As a front-driver, the A5 is sure-footed and much more agile than the A4 with which it shares so much hardware. In this case there might be more grip, but there’s not a whole lot of finesse to be gained by forking out the £1490 those driven rear wheels add to the A5’s price.

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Specs

Price when new: £29,645
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1984cc 4-cyl turbo, 208bhp @ 4300-6000rpm, 258lb ft @ 1500-4200rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Performance: 6.5sec 0-62mph, 153mph, 38.2mpg, 173g/km
Weight / material: 1490kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4625/1854/1372

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