It wasn’t that long ago when the thought of 67.3mpg from a sporty-looking Audi would have sounded crazy, but that is the actual combined economy figure for the Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI ultra.
Coupes used to be sporty, and therefore not very economical in most cases. Now you can have coupes that look sporty, but that actually also achieve impressive economy. Enter the Audi A5, with the new ‘ultra’ badging, which is used for the most efficient models in the brand’s ranges.
The Audi A5 may be a two-door coupe, but you can trace its history back to the front-wheel drive A4 saloon. Drop in a diesel engine, with a 6-speed manual gearbox, and you have sporty-looking car on the outside, but an efficient car under the skin.
You then need to factor in an Audi interior. Audi is one of the best in the business for ‘feel-good’ interiors, with simple design and high quality materials. The A5 also has a decent boot, although accommodation in the rear, and access to these seats, isn’t great.
Add all this together and you’re left with an appealing overall package. However, if you look a bit more closely, there are a few things to note. This ‘ultra’ model has wheels which, in isolation, look perfectly acceptable. But if you then glance at the other A5 Coupes on the roads, you’ll soon realise that they all have huge alloys, making the wheels on the ultra look rather plain in comparison.
And although the interior is a quality environment, again in isolation, if you compare it with more recent Audi models, the A5 interior looks somewhat dated.
And whilst this ultra is refined and comfortable to drive, if you compare the driving experience with newer Audi models, such as the A3, you’ll realise that the A5 doesn’t have the most agile chassis in the brand’s line-up.
The A5 interior is a perfectly pleasant place to be, and it’s comfortable. The dashboard looks stylish, and having a controller for the touchscreen is so much better than cars where you have to touch the screen itself – something that just doesn’t work well when you’re driving. However features such as the fan adjustment could be better – you have to press the button for the fan then increase the speed via the screen – it would be much better to have an old-fashioned dial that you simply turn to increase the speed of the fan, rather than having to touch two different controls.
When you’re moving, the car is refined and generally quiet. The A5 is stable and comfortable on motorways. The ride is good – helped no doubt by tyres with a higher profile than normal. This may be a manual gearbox rather than an automatic, but both the clutch and the gearbox are smooth. The steering is also nicely weighted and well insulated from unwanted feedback from the road.
The main thing to be aware of is that the A5 is front-wheel drive. For many potential buyers, this will be absolutely fine. However some people may not like the potential for wheelspin and torque steer under acceleration on wet surfaces and the underlying characteristic of understeer. Although the A5 is perfectly pleasant to drive under most circumstances, it can’t be described as a rewarding sports car in terms of its handling dynamics.
The whole point of the Audi A5 ultra is to be efficient, and it is. During our week with the A5 we covered many motorway miles from Cheshire to the West Midlands and back on three occasions and during these trips the car averaged 57.6mpg. This is the typical habitat that this car is likely to frequent, so achieving just 10mpg less than the 67.3mpg NEDC figure is a good result. In more urban driving we averaged 47.8mpg. Overall our average was 53.7mpg.
As well as being economical, with 109g/km CO2, the A5 ultra is also ‘low emission’ for company car tax, with a Benefit in Kind rate of just 16%.
The base price of the A5 ultra is £30,825. Our test car had options including technology package (MMI Navigation system plus, Audi Music Interface, Audi Parking System Advanced) (£1,695); Adaptive headlights (£1,130); Assistance package (Adaptive cruise control with braking guard; Audi active lane assist) (£625). All options took the total price of our test car to £37,030.
The A5 ultra is available exclusively in SE form. The A4 and A4 Avant ultra are also available, with SE Technik specification. There’s also an A5 Sportback ultra.
The Audi A5 ultra follows the typical Audi recipe. It has a stylish two-door coupe shape, and a quality interior environment. It’s refined and comfortable, and combined with its efficiency, it’s an excellent motorway cruiser. However it’s not a dynamic, rewarding driver’s car. So if you want a car that looks like a sporty coupe, but one that will actually spend most of its life on motorways, where you want maximum economy, then the Audi A5 ultra should be on your shortlist. It scores a Green-Car-Guide rating of 8 out of 10.