WR Fleet: 2008 Audi A5 3.2 Quattro
Written By: Winding Road Staff
Filed Under: Audi, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Winding Road Fleet Blog May 6th, 2008 11:00 AM </B></B>
A technological masterpiece, the 2008 Audi A5 impressed us during its week-long stay in our test fleet. We have praise for the LED headlamps, well-appointed interior, and even Audi’s MMI interface. Our A5 was equipped with the 3.2-liter V-6 matched with Quattro all-wheel-drive. It’s a sweet setup, but would we have it over a 3-series? We’re still trying to decide.
Click through the jump for our full impressions and click the images below to open a gallery.
General Manager, Automotive Channel
The Audi A5 is an art director’s soft-core dream (the S5 is the full-bore version) and it’s really great as a daily coupe, although it’s not as dynamically interesting as the Infiniti G37 Coupe (in standard or sport) or a BMW 3-series Coupe. While the suspension is classically overwound in a delightful Audi way, the steering just isn’t as compelling as the G37 or 3-series. Of course, we realize this is a front-wheel-drive platform (our model is Quattro, but in any case, it’s not rear-wheel). But steering feel comparisons shouldn’t be discounted for architectural layouts of the vehicle. This is an unreasonable stand to take, sure. In any case, the A5 is very good in a lot of other areas. It’s probably better looking than the Infiniti and BMW, completely obliterates them in headlight awesomeness, and covers any bet the BMW or Infiniti make on interior airiness. Our model had the automatic Tiptronic transmission—a very nice six-speed that is a good daily driver option.
I guess it’s because I’m a simpleton, or because I rarely drive German cars now, or because my daily driver is a Jeep, or because I’m easily confused. In any case, I think the Audi A5 is just cluttered with too much stuff inside. Every face of everything is covered in buttons. Only the seats, armrests and glass are free of buttons. I love buttons, and Audi makes nice ones, but there is a saturation point.
When you think about a control panel (or panels) like this, it really puts the Apple consumer electronics experience into contrast. Which approach is correct in a vehicle that—in today’s world—just simply has a lot of stuff in it? BMW tried to hide a lot of unnecessary things with iDrive, but it’s been seen largely as a miss because it’s difficult to use. Audi has its sort-of-iDrive, which happens to work a lot better, but that hasn’t cut back on button creep. Can someone figure out how to do a simple dashboard, but give us the ability to change things as we need to? The difference between setup (things like dimming the screen, units, etc) and operation (steering wheel) is important, but what we have today is a lot of both combined in an interior package that is visually interesting but somewhat overwhelming.Nate Luzod
I wrote last week that the BMW M3 was the perfect car. I feel as if I could say the same about the Audi A5, however it’s perfect in a different way. The A5 looks good, perhaps even better than we think. Drive past an intersection and heads turn to follow your path. Driving through neighborhoods, kids playing on lawns stop and stare and point. Maybe it’s the shape of the body, the sweet propeller blade-like wheels, or the unique LED headlamps—the car delivered a lot more curb appeal than I expected. More, even, than the M3 Coupe and M3 Sedan.
Driving felt great. It’s an Audi—no complaints there.
Reading Reilly’s comments above, I would disagree to some extent. Audi’s MMI interface is easy to use for what we would use it for. I can’t compare it to an iPod or iPhone because it’s an entirely different function. We don’t have time to flip through virtual interfaces while driving, trying to keep our eyes on the road. If we did, iDrive would have been a success. Audi’s interfaces are vast-ish but necessary, and I think that what we as journalists forget is that people who buy and own these cars drive them every day (or more often) and get used to things. After just a weekend with the A5, I had already memorized controls and functions to the point of being able to make things happen without looking, or minimally taking my eyes off the road.
One very nice thing I noticed, and I’m not sure if this is new or if I just realized it’s there, is the MMI’s ability to tap into your iPod. Inside the glove compartment there’s a wire that hooks right into the bottom of your iPod, keeping it out of sight of would-be thieves (unlike the one in the 1-series I drove last month). Once it’s plugged in, the scroll wheel makes it surprisingly easy to navigate through your playlists, songs, etc. Much easier than Sync (sorry, Ford), which I’ve become increasingly frustrated with.
In my opinion, the A5 is an all-around great car, and I was sad to have to return the keys this morning. If I could afford it, I’d pick it as a daily driver above a sportier-looking and better-performing coupe. It’s powerful and precise enough to be a thrilling drive, but not so over the top that I wouldn’t trust myself in it every day of the week.Steven J. Ewing
I had the opportunity to take the Audi A5 on a 360-mile round trip to South Bend, Indiana, and back to our Ann Arbor office. The one thing that really surprised me about this Audi was how comfortable it was on the long drive, even with our test car’s S Line suspension. I never once felt fatigued or restless during the nearly seven hours I spent behind the wheel. There aren’t many cars I can say that about.
During my drive, I stopped for fuel and instantly had a small swarm of people around the A5. One person asked about the S Line appearance package, saying that this test car looks more like an S5 than anything else. I’d have to agree. Twenty-nine hundred dollars may seem like a pretty penny for the S Line kit, but if I were buying the A5, I’d go for it. The chiseled body and nineteen-inch wheels look fantastic.
With all that I enjoyed about the A5, I still think I’d rather drive a 335i. It’s hard to beat BMW’s twin-turbo six-cylinder, especially mated to the smooth six-speed manual. I’d be interested to drive a 335xi Coupe back-to-back with this A5 to get a true comparison. The Audi looks much nicer, but the BMW is just a bit more fun when the road starts to get more interesting. Still, I’d never be ashamed if I had this A5 parked in my driveway.2008 AUDI A5 3.2 QUATTRO
Engine: V-6, 3.2 liters, 24v
Output: 265 hp/243 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
0-60 MPH: 5.8 sec
Top Speed: 130 mph (electronically limited)
Weight: 3384 lb
Fuel economy, city/hwy: 18/27 mpg
Base price: $41,200
Audi Silver Pearl Effect: $750
S Line sport package: $2900
Audi Navigation Plus: $2390
Premium package: $1850
Technology package: $1700
Price as tested: $51,565