Well, this sucks...

Of course it doesn't. The latest Audi A5 Coupe is brilliant. The problem is, it might be too good. And we're running one for six months.

Date: 10 May 2017 | Current mileage: 1050 | Claimed economy: 52.3mpg | Actual economy: 39.5mpg

I've written a headline that's made you think that our new Audi A5 long-termer sucks, when actually the thing that sucks is specific to how good the A5 is. It's sucks because I can't complain about it, and I like complaining about cars. That's clickbait of the worst kind. I apologise. Albeit it's worked.

I digress. This Audi A5, then, is my new car. I absolutely love it. I love it so much that I'm worried that these next few months will be a 12-part love essay to my Audi. A few weeks with it and it's already revealed itself a blindingly competent coupe, with few quirks and no real flaws to speak of. Hmm...this could be 7000-odd painful words, for all of us.

I'm just kidding. Ish. We'll make it fun. I will of course cover the basics: I'll tell you what it's like running a two-door coupe as the main family car of a household with two children (eight and ten). I'll tell you what it's like not running a diesel, for a change. I'll tell you how many times my wife has had a go at me for not choosing an A5 Sportback (five-door) when I could have*. Most importanly, I'll find something wrong with it, dammit. 

For now, let's roll back a bit and do the obligatory spec sheet welcome - let's get to know our A5. I had the distinct and quite rare pleasure of choosing this car myself a few months ago (often these long-term test cars come from a manufacturer's weekly press test car fleet), which explains why it's quite blingy and, again, not a diesel.

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                   Sweet flat-bottommed steering wheel for a "sweet whip". Not my words. 

I'd like to pretend that I picked a petrol car for some noble journalistic reason pertaining to the ever-quickening death of diesel - particularly Volkswagen Group diesel - but it wasn't that. I picked it because I don't like diesels and I had a chance not to run one, so I took it. Plus, the relatively sensible 190PS 2.0 TFSI is hardly financial suicide: 55.3mpg combined. I drive to HJ's Peterborough office from Newcastle a fair amount, making me something of a business user in motorway mileage terms, so, despite what I just said, I did partly p-p-p-pick up a p-p-p-petrol to see whether petrol really is a worthwhile choice for high-milers.

Then there's the spec. Bright red, two door, S line, light leather, massive wheels... basically the most hateful Audi I could concoct. This is the sort of Audi that nobody lets out of a junction, although I've already found that it's a proper head turner. I know everyone says that about their own car when it's probably not true, but I drive a lot of stuff so I'm quite non-biased on this matter, I hope. I've been surprised at just how much male attention this thing gets. The other week my wife overheard a lad in a car park call it a "sweet whip" when he didn't realise she was sat there. That's 100% true.  

It's even got £100 worth of flat-bottomed steering wheel, for no other reason than I think it makes my whip look sweet, even though it's basically the same as fitting a triangular handle to a mug. Anyway, point is, this A5 is possibly a bit silly but I love it, because underneath it all it's actually very sensible. I'll tell you why over the next few months, and in far more succinct terms than this. Stay tuned. 

*The answer is a dozen and counting, not including the kids complaining too. 

Is our "sweet whip" a sensible motor?

A lad called our car a "sweet whip". If we understand him, he's right - it's a surprisingly expedient family car.

Date: 24 May 2017 | Current mileage: 1422 | Claimed economy: 52.3mpg | Actual economy: 39.2mpg

In my first update I mentioned how someone called our Audi A5 a 'sweet whip'. To furnish you with a bit more detail, the car was parked up at some sort of country manor where our Nicola had taken the kids, and where a wedding happened to be taking place. The car park was full of other Audis. 

Our Nicola is quite small, so I assume the fella in his 20s (by her reckoning) hadn't noticed she was in there with the window down as he walked past it and described it as a "sweet whip" to his mate, before they both got into an Audi A3. Our Nicola was confused, wondering why on earth someone would equate a motorcar to some sort of mousse, until I explained to her that the lad actually meant "nice automobile".* Fortunately, I once overheard Regulate by Nate Dogg and Warren G in Waitrose, so I'm fluent in gangsta lingo. 

Our A5 is is specced to the hilt: £45,000 worth of £35,000 Audi A5. Yep, that's 10 grand's worth of options. They range from £100 for a non-circular steering wheel to £1200 for a 'Driver Assistance Pack', which is a suite of safety features including automatic cruise control, traffic sign recogntion, automatic braking and even efficiency tips based on satellite navigation info, covering upcoming junctions and such-like.  

It also has £645 worth of bright red paint, is sitting on over-ornate 19-inch wheels (£1050), illuminates the road ahead with cutting edge LED Matrix front lights (£975) and has sport-spec front seats finished in soft grey leather (£800). I think they look mega, although our Editor David called them 'Eastern European taxi specials'. Incidentally the bolsters are already starting to look scruffy, but that's a conversation for later. Something to look forward to.  


                      Reasonable rear space. Grease marks and junk proof of true family car status. 

The point is, I reckon much of what makes our A5 stand out is the spec: S line, bright colour, big rims. I've seen silver ones in SE spec, on smaller wheels and without the fancy lights and tinted windows of ours. And they look, well... ordinary. 

But what any A5 gives you, options aside, is an extremely sensible and well packaged car - and that's the real point. I knew when I chose a two-door instead of a five-door Sportback that I was making a compromise, what with having a couple of kids and that. But, genuinely, I wanted to see if this sort of car could work as a family runabout. It can. Very well. 

Obviously if your kids are younger - in car seats, say - it's a back-risking nightmare getting them into the rear seats. But if, like mine, your kids can happily clamber into the back themselves, then really all you've got to deal with are arguments about who gets the "squashy seat" - that's the one behind me, pushed quite far back, as opposed to the passenger seat, behind which is reasonable legroom. The boot is pretty massive too - at 465 litres its got a full 100 litres on a three-door Audi A3. 

I think that's what I love about the A5 at this early stage, saying nothing about the driving experience (which I will in due course, obviously) - that it's all at once a proper lovely looking, genuinely desirable coupe (appropriately specified, that is). And a very sensible and quite practical four-seat family runabout. A sweet whip, a guilt-free, zero sugar, zero carb sweet whip. 

*Not true. 

Ooh, Matrix

We spent nearly a grand on fancy lights for our Audi, but are they really worth it? Mark finds out.

Date: 7 June 2017 | Current mileage: 1872 | Claimed economy: 52.3mpg | Actual economy: 39.4mpg

Audi and BMW were arguably the first proponents of the get-out-of-my-way DRL (daytime running light). Before you get all indignant in the comments section, I'm not saying they were the first to use them, but anecdotally it was probably the illuminated headlamp areolas of the E39 BMW 5 Series that started the trend for the agressive 'light signatures' we see on most new cars today. Including budget Korean city cars.

But it was Audi that really took it to town. Probably around the time of the 2008 A4, Audi began to really make front LED DRLs its thing. It had used them before that, in the R8 and S6 notably, but once they started to filter into the affordable stuff, there was no stopping the LEDs. And thus, no stopping a new pantheon of nonsense spewing out of the mouths of car designers worldwide, with their "luminescent evening signature ribbons". And that. 

They seemed a bit hateful and ostentatious at first, especially when a pair of them was gunning towards you from your rearview mirror, as they often seemed to be (and still do). But now that they're part of the fabric of our ordinary cars, most people have become comfortable with both their aesthetic and safety benefits. 

Now, I'm far from a car geek, or any sort of design expert, but I'm strangely interested in the progress of car lights, DRL or otherwise. I remember the first time I saw an Audi A7 from my rearview mirror one night on the A1 (the road not the Audi). The DRLs were so low and striking that I assumed it was an R8, until the car overtook me (naturally) and I realised it wasn't. I fell in love with the Audi A7 that night. I also remember how, when I worked at SEAT for a couple of years, the Leon's lights were the thing I most liked to talk about. That and thinking about novel new ways to change the subject away from the Toledo and Exeo... 


                                                     These fancy lights do a dance 

The Leon moved the light game forward by being the first mass market car to introduce full-LED headlights - as in, LEDs for the main beam, rather than just the light signature. How SEAT managed to negotiate that particular scoop in the Big Volkswagen Group Hatchback Equipment Planning Meeting still baffles me. Surely the Audi A3 or Volkswagen Golf should have been the first? Anyway, the first time I tried them was actually mesmerising - a bright, clear, white light whose safety benefits were immediately as clear as, well, day. They looked great too.

SEAT won that exclusive, but of course the rest of the Volkswagen Group soon took its turn (as did the other manufacturers), most notably Audi with its dynamic indicators (which sweep from one side to the other) and LED Matrix headlamps - both of which our A5 has. Cost: £975, albeit that includes a fully digital instrument display too. We'll talk about that another week. 

In Audi's words, here's what they do:"Audi Matrix technology... uses information obtained from multiple sources including sensors, a camera and the MMI Navigation system (if ordered) to identify the appropriate lighting required. Using these sources [the] Matrix beam dips or fully extinguishes individual lighting diodes when vehicles are detected ahead. Matrix beam is capable of establishing and tracking multiple road users and illuminating the appropriate corridors of lights either side of them to maintain maximum visibility of the road and surrounding environment without causing disruption to other drivers." Phew.

Clever stuff. And it really works. This is the most impressve set of headlamps I've used, doing all that trickery while being bright and inducing less eye fatigue than a xenon headlamp. Between those lights and the digital display, I'd say that's a grand well spent. 

Is petrol sensible?

You do a lot of motorway miles and you're sick of diesel - but should you really choose petrol?

Date: 21 June 2017 | Current mileage: 2526 | Claimed economy: 52.3mpg | Actual economy: 39.8mpg

We all still use the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle if you're interested) test as a fuel economy benchmark, even though we all know that it's about as legit as standing on a treadmill for an hour wearing rollerblades, then claiming you've completed a half marathon. But of course, the NEDC not only shows that diesel cars are significantly more efficient than equivalently powered petrol models, but they're also more 'environmentally sound'. 

That's based on looking at one singular emission: carbon dioxide. We know - and always have - that internal combustion produces far more byproducts than that, but because CO2 is easily explainable and pertinent to the global warming aeon in which we find ourselves, it's become the king gas. And because diesel burns leaner than petrol - more air and less fuel required in the chamber to produce the little bangs - it produces less CO2. 

Problem is, diesel produces many more nitrous oxides than petrol, which are a respiratory clusterfudge. You can reduce them with a diesel partculate filter, but they tend to clog up if they're used sporadically - regular short journeys around town, for example. 

None of this is news and with the buying public turning against diesel relatively rapidly - sales down 11.5 per cent year-on-year, according to the SMMT - it could be that we're all starting to pay attention to the bigger picture. Or it could be that turbo petrol engines are catching up to diesel on the average mpg front. Probably a combination of both. 


                                The TFSI engine is very good - but is it economical?

I dare say that not too long ago - the start of the last generation Audi A5's production run, say - very few high mileage Audi buyers would have considered a 2.0-litre petrol engine over a 2.0-litre TDI diesel, such was the gulf in mpg and consequent tax ratings. Now, though, despite the gap between the two's average MPG ratings actually widening (see below), a 50mpg petrol car is far more palatable than a 44mpg one.   

And in a more subjective sense, petrols are just nicer. Smoother. Quieter. All that jazz. And so, finally, we come to our Audi A5, which I chose with a petrol engine even though on paper it didn't look that sensible - I drive to Peterborough from Newcastle quite often, meaning the long distance mpg and tank range of a diesel makes quantifiably more sense. But, dammit, I'm sick of diesel.

Anyways, what I'm getting at is this. While the A5 is only giving us mid thirties economy around the doors - I say "only" - that's not too bad for £40,000 worth of quite powerful, automatic coupe - the long distance stuff is tangibly dragging the number upwards. Here's a typical trip south on the A1, look...


I mean, 52mpg ain't bad for a lovely two-door Audi, right? That was quite an extensive buildup for that solitary revelation, I know, but we'll talk more about costs and that in the coming weeks...

Audi A5 average mpg ratings: 

2007 A5 TDI 190PS: 60.1mpg

2007 A5 TFSI 180PS: 44.1mpg

2017 A5 TDI 190PS: 68.9 mpg

2017 A5 TFSI 190PS: 50.4mpg

My four-seat shame

Mark's been merrily driving his A5 Coupe for months without realising one very important fact about it.

Date: 5 July 2017 | Current mileage: 2956 | Claimed economy: 52.3mpg | Actual economy: 39.9mpg

Okay, so I'm going to make a really embarassing admission now. Listen up. So it's Friday night and the household is unusually manic because Nicola (Mrs. Nichol) is going to a surprise birthday party with her friend and I'm taking the kids to my parents' house, mainly so I can spend some alone time with my PS4, playing GTA V online. Because I'm just that cool. 

Plan was quite simple: drop the kids off, pick Nicola's friend up, drop them off, come home, go online, pwn n00bs

It was manic because both the kids and Nicola were taking their time to get ready. So we left in a hurry, in the Audi. 

And because we left in a hurry - and getting the kids to their place wasn't time-sensitive but getting to the party was - lest the surprise be ruined, about five minutes into the journey we decided to pick Nicola's friend up first. No bother. Except...


                                       That middle seat is not actually a middle seat...

Five minutes after that, I had a quick look behind me to make sure Nicola's friend would fit into the middle seat. And then I realised. That's not a middle seat. There's no seatbelt. B*****ks.  

So, we had to turn back, my wife in a state of mild enragement, mainly because we had a perfectly good (and five-seat) Nissan Micra parked next to the A5 at the time, but which I didn't take because... well, I just really like the Audi. 

Embarrassing, right? I chose this car. Even worse, I'm technically a road tester - I should know these things. In my (weak) defence, we've never had more than four people in the car. And when I chose it I was thinking only about our four-strong famly, and...well, that's it. I'm still ashamed. 

And so, if you want your Audi A5 to function beyond the confines of you, your partner and your two kids, then the Sportback is essential. It's not just that there's more space in the back - and a hatchback  it's that there's a middle belt too - albeit the Sportback isn't any wider (it's narrower in fact, by a whole 3mm) so you're not getting a comfortable fifth seat. Still, it's impressive that the Sportback costs exactly the same amount as the coupe, spec for spec. There's no moral here. I still don't regret getting the two-door. It's mint. 

In defence of a proper driving position

Some time with one of modern motoring’s worst seating positions made Mark appreciate the A5 even more.

Date: 19 July 2017 | Current mileage: 3152 | Claimed economy: 52.3mpg | Actual economy: 39.9mpg

I was recently forced to origami myself into the cabin of a Fiat 124 Spider for a review video, the one at the bottom of the page there. Sorry for using ‘origami’ as a verb, but it’s totes appropes. Sorry about that too.

The thing about the 124 Spider is that, like the Mazda MX-5 on which it’s based, the cabin space is nothing short of atrocious. I mean, there’s clever, space-efficient packaging – as per the Smart Fortwo, say – and then there’s making a cabin so tiny that anyone over five-and-a-half foot is unsuitable for it.

As I explain in the video, I know I’m on the tall side – I had problems with the Lamborghini Huracan Spyder too as it goes, though that’s a less mainstream problem – but there’s no excuse for making a modern, affordable roadster so ergonomically poor. The Porsche Boxster, to give one example, shows that something very low, short and two-seat can be perfectly suitable for a six-foot-plus individual.

The A5 comes in at this juncture because the whole 124 experience reminded me just what a user friendly marvel it is. It has one of the very best driving positions that four wheels has to offer.

Saab -93-the -first -happy -driver -sketch1

                                   Remember when being in a Saab felt like this? No...?

To put a finer point on it, it’s because the seat and wheel have a vast range of adjustment in every direction and there’s adequate space for the pedals and a proper, chunky footrest. And the steering wheel is small in circumference and beautifully thick rimmed. And the gear selector is high-set and close to the wheel. And the armrests on the centre console and in the door cards are parallel. And most impressively, these are things that both me (6’4”) and Mrs Nichol (5’3”) agree on.

It reminds me of one of my favourite ever car billboards. It was for the last Saab 9-3 (RIP) in the early ‘00s. It’s probably apocryphal, or worse a downright PR fabrication, but the story goes that the fella in charge of chassis engineering at Saab was asked to describe what the 9-3 felt like to drive. His reply was the sketch above.

A classic case of picture>1000 words. The 9-3 wasn’t like that at all – I know that because I had one – but this A5, it definitely is.  

TFSI: The Fuel Station Inquiry

A short fuel station inquisition reminds Mark how happy he is with his petrol motor. Rather than one of them diesels.

Date: 2 August 2017 | Current mileage: 3288 | Claimed economy: 52.3mpg | Actual economy: 39.7mpg

So I’m at the petrol station in the A5, in a queue. It’s busy. There’s a big black pickup truck behind me, which is all I know. I’m too busy listening to grime on Radio 1XTRA to pay much attention to outside, but somewhere in my unconscious I’ve probably assumed it’s some sort of thug.

My turn finally arrives. I get out of the car. As I do, a very well-dressed lady, probably around 60 and who looks like she enjoys riding a horse between branches of Boden, approaches me.

“Excuse me…what does TFSI mean on the back of your car?”

“It means it’s a petrol,” I say, pulling the green pump towards the filler neck. She looks at me, evidently only semi-satisfied with the answer. And that’s exactly when I realise I don’t know what it stands for – or, I don’t remember, at least. I’ve probably been told at least half a dozen times in various Audi press conferences. I'm a broad strokes person. 

‘Quick! Think of something interesting to say,’ I think. As you do when your ignorance is being exposed by the blinding headlights of a reasonable question. Nothing comes. 


                                                         Picturesque. In a lay by...

Thankfully she slowly backs away at that point, wearing the look of polite befuddlement you might expect if I’d just asked her where the nearest reasonably priced brothel is. I manage to briefly catch the reaction of her husband, George – definitely a George – as she relays the information. George looks nonplussed.

As I drive away, full of 95 Ron and disappointment, I decide to remind myself about the old Turbo Fuel Stratified Injection engine (that's wrong, by the way). The ins and outs of how it works (literally) are probably of little interest to you – if they are, you likely already know them – but what it means in practice is a turbo petrol engine with the sort of responsiveness akin to a modern diesel.

I love this engine. I mean, there are few things more satisfying to a car person than ringing the crap out of a proper naturally aspirated petrol engine – Honda’s VTEC stuff, for example – but day-to-day this sort of turbo petrol is a much better thing. You get most of the benefit of a diesel – great pickup from low revs – but without any of the rattling din. And, let’s be honest, 90 per cent of the time who needs the aural aggravation of anything above, say, 3500rpm?

So there you go. I can only assume that the couple in the Nissan Navara were confused because most A5 models have ‘TDI’ written on the back of them. I’m still glad mine doesn’t. If you're interested, here's a video Audi made about TFSI engines... well, it's more about Le Mans and rain and tyres but they somehow manage to make it about engines. Watch and learn. Like I should have done.

MM… aye?

A proper length of time with Audi’s old school scroll wheel results in mixed feelings .

Date: 23 August 2017 | Current mileage: 3650 | Claimed economy: 52.3mpg | Actual economy: 40.1mpg

I was lucky enough to be in the presence of greatness recently. A friend of mine has bought an absolutely mint BMW M5 Touring.

I’m proper jealous. It’s rare, derestricted (apparently), practical and beautiful. And it has a V10. And it’ll almost definitely appreciate in value.

So far, so awesome. Until you get to the little silver dial in the centre console. Yep, first generation BMW iDrive. Urgh. The idea behind iDrive was sound: streamline as many functions as possible into the digital display and control them with a simple dial, dramatically de-cluttering the dashboard at a time when in-car digital infotainment was proliferating.

Except that it was horrible to use, requiring navigation through a matrix of sub menus to perform the simplest of tasks. That’s how I remember it, anyway.

It has of course been refined since, as well as being mimicked elsewhere, most notably by Audi with its MMI system – which our A5 has.


                                               BMW EM5. Yes. Early iDrive. Nah. 

Now, I like MMI. I think it’s about as intuitive as a rotary dial type system can possibly be, not least because – unlike early iDrive – it has proper shortcut buttons. And the menus make sense.

However, I’ve lost count of the amount of times my kids have jabbed a greasy finger onto the display screen – especially when Apple CarPlay is running, which it usually is – then looked at me with disdain when I remind them, once again, that IT’S NOT A TOUCHSCREEN!

“But why, dad?”

“Well…I dunno. Shut up.”

That’s the thing. MMI may boast the apotheosis of the rotary dial control interface (I still find even the latest iDrive clunky), but it’s fundamentally outdated. I can understand that the digital instrument panel (Audi Virtual Cockpit, which our A5 also has) requires some way of controlling it. And the dial is probably the best way, but why not make the centre screen touch sensitive too?

It is, I think, the only area of the A5’s cabin that could and should be significantly improved. Because for all MMI is excellent, you still find yourself scrolling through menus, which is time spent with your eyes off the road. 

Let's do a big road test

We've had our Audi A5 for a while now. So we though it was high time we did a proper review of it.

Date: 6 September 2017 | Current mileage: 3822 | Claimed economy: 52.3mpg | Actual economy: 38.5mpg

Despite the existence of the R8, Audi generally still has to deal with a lingering reputation of old: the one that says it can’t really make cars that handle properly.

That rep is predicated on stuff like the first TT, all the early 2000s S line stuff, and the fact it’s never bothered with rear-wheel drive. It’s also in spite of Quattro rallying shenanigans.

The R8 changed all that. Even the first one remains one of the best, most balanced, most rewarding sports car handling experiences money can buy. Apparently Lotus had a lot to do with it, but so what. I’ll never forget the first time I felt the back of an R8 kick out. And how easy it was to sort it out.

That was the moment I realised Audi had turned a corner. Literally, obviously, but also in terms of nailing what it is that makes a car enjoyable. You know, that combination of steering feel and sharpness, combined with proper ergonomics, so that you feel genuinely engaged with the car no matter what speed you’re doing.

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                                          How I make the A5 go around corners...

I know that rear-wheel drive is the way to achieve proper, unhindered handling balance, but cars today have so much grip that for 99 per cent of the time – away from the track, that is, so probably 99.999% really – it doesn’t really matter. What matters how a car feels at normal speeds, at all times.

Modern Audi, I think, understands that and this A5 is a great example. Sure, on a wet day or at excessive speed the front-wheel drive characteristics are exaggerated into a slight mess of understeer, but otherwise this is every bit as fun to drive as a 4 Series or a C-Class. And much, much better than a Lexus RC. Urgh.

That’s because (and I’ve already spoken about this at length) the driving position is spot on, while the pedal feel is excellent and the steering is not only quite quick, but quite good at establishing a link between your palms and the tyres. Again, not Porsche or BMW good, but good enough to make it enjoyable for the majority of us regular drivers.

In short, it feels like a sports car. But not enough to be uncomfortable or intimidating. That’s a clever trick to pull off. Fairly recently Audi couldn’t do that – it just made the steering and suspension of its sportier stuff over-firm (see the old S4 for details), which is the engineering equivalent of trying to improve Danny Dyer by making him swear more. 

'Picks up more dirt than Barry Scott'

Our expensive grey leather seats are costing us a fortune in Cillit Bang. And they look like they're off an Eastern European taxi.

Date: 20 September 2017 | Current mileage: 4151 | Claimed economy: 52.3mpg | Actual economy: 39.5mpg

It's rare that I get to choose the specification of a long-term test car. They usually just come to me after what I assume to be a series of faxes between our office and a car supermarket. So when I do get to actually build my car on a website like a proper customer, it's a rare opportunity to think like one. 

And despite spending money that's not my own, a peculiar sense of moral obligaton kicks in - even when building a runabout with possibilities as mildly ludicrous as an Audi A5. I mean, at the time I was concocting my A5 there was no RS5, but even discounting that, it's possible to build an A5 of the 70 grand persuasion. See below for details. Granted, it's an S5 Cabriolet with more accessories than Batman's tailor, but still... 

So, sensible hat on (it's a baseball cap with ''financial prudence' written on it, which I wear backwards), I set about making a sensible A5. Well, sensible enough to get away with, anyway. I guess this is what it feels like to be a newly promoted upper-middle manager on a company car scheme. 

Long story short - well, not that long really, but boring - car ended up with near ten grand of options and a list price of £44,560. Most of those options were justified for testing and/or resale puropses: 19-inch wheels (£1050), because nobody wants an A5 on bottle tops, LED Matrix headlights (£975), because they're safe, window tints (£375) because this is an Audi and a flat bottomed steering wheel (£100) because I'm an Audi driver now. 


                           'Fine Nappa' leather seats, grey: five months old, or five years? 

But then there was the £800 I spent on the grey leather sports seats. Fine Nappa leather, no less. Honestly, if I could have chosen beige or tan I would have, but all I knew is that I wanted a light interior and this was my only option. 

When the car was finally delivered I happened to be with my colleagues at a photography studio making videos for our Car of the Year awards, which meant we all got to have a good look around it. I loved it. Our website editor, David Ross, on the other hand...

"Romanian taxi spec seats. Nice."

He'd ruined them. Like the time I came home with a fresh tattoo and my wife said that one bit "looked like a phallus," and now it's all I see. 

Nonetheless I still liked my seats. Until about three months in, when they started to look like...well, the seats of an old Eastern European taxi. Turns out grey Fine Nappa leather seats pick up more dirt than Barry Scott. After a five months or so with the car, the steering wheel is still matte and lovely, but the seats are starting to make our Audi look like it's been clocked. 

Moral of the story: stick with black.  

Bye then, A5. I'll totally miss you loads

Time's up for the A5. Here's how our two-door family car went down, and why I'll miss it a lot. Not so much the kids.

Date: 4 October 2017 | Current mileage: 4500 | Claimed economy: 52.3mpg | Actual economy: 39.5mpg

I loved our A5. I loved it even though it was a red A5 on big wheels, making it a mobile declaration of a personality deficit. “An ****hole probably drives that car.” You could see it on their faces.

I loved it even though I have two children and they didn’t fit into it properly… in fairness, those people were probably right. What sort of person has two kids and buys a two-door coupe?

Oh well, as it happens the kids were mostly on my side. There’s actually quite a lot of room in the A5 – easily enough headroom for them, and plenty of legroom assuming I’ve moved the driver’s seat forward a bit. More of a problem on the practicality side was the boot – it really should be a hatchback. A three-door A5 would be sensational, like a swollen Audi TT.


                                            See, the kids had fun with the A5. See. See.

Okay, so I should have bought a Sportback. Let’s move on. My favourite thing about the A5, aside from the way it looks, is the way it drives. Phenomenally low driving position, fantastic balance (front-wheel drive notwithstanding), and yet very refined most of the time. You know, not-too-firm ride quality and a distinct lack of engine noise, wind whistle and tyre roar on the motorway.

Then there was the fuel economy. I did, if I’m honest, wish for more power from the 2.0 TFSI petrol engine (I wish I’d ordered a 252PS version), but it felt quick enough and gave us a good 40mpg over the 4,500 miles or so we covered. Much of that around the doors.

On the motorway it was genuinely surprising, though. See this journey from Newcastle to Big London for details…


                                 52mpg. Win. Also, someone else must have put TalkSport on. 

That’s another thing I loved. The digital instrument display, aka Audi Virtual Cockpit. It’s easy to use, clear and it looks cool. Buying an A5 with the Technology Pack is, in my opinion, essential. For £1,400 it also includes MMI Navigation Plus, which includes the touch-sensitive rotary scroll wheel for the infotainment.

Oh, and I loved the B&O 3D sound system too. Enter Shikari never sounded better. That’s another £1,300 very well spent – Comfort & Sound Pack, also including automatic door unlocking when the key is in your pocket, and a rear view camera.

Which, I suppose, brings us to the costs. There’s no doubting that to get the best from an A5 you need to spend proper money on it. There’s ten grand’s worth of options on our car – and there could have been more.

An option-less A5 would still be a fundamentally nice car, but I have to say, with its basic seats, distinct lack of digital displays and cameras, average stereo, less bright lights, more round steering wheel and piddly wheels, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as pleasant an experience.

Oh well, it was ever thus with premium cars. Choose wisely, and choose petrol, and we can confidently recommend an A5 very highly.

Bye then, A5. We’ll totally miss you loads. **sob**