2008 Audi A5

The Audi A5 can be ordered with a choice of two S line packages. The “S line sports package plus” combines sporty suspension (with ride height lowered by 10 millimetres) and 18-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels or, alternatively, 19-inch alloys with a 20-spoke design. Audi will add an optional 20-inch wheel with a 7-twin-spoke design to the range in the middle of 2007.

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Inside, sports seats with an electrically adjustable lumbar support provide a secure seating position for spirited driving. The seats are upholstered in a cloth/leather combination or in Fine Nappa leather, both of which feature an embossed S line logo. Available for the first time in the A5 is the new perforated Alcantara/leather upholstery, with the perforations in the seat centre section backed in contrasting silver.

Other typical S line items in the A5 include: the S line 3-spoke leather-covered sports steering wheel, inlays in matt brushed aluminum, and the S line logo on the door sill trims and front wings. Exclusive exterior colors include Misano Red and Avus Silver.

Characteristic features of the S line exterior package are distinctive front and rear bumpers and side ventilation grilles at the front. The diffuser insert at the rear and the central bar on the lower side of the front bumper are finished in platinum grey.

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Rarely does one get to step back from the practicality and market demands of the automotive industry to create something purely out of passion and desire. It is a realm typically reserved for artists. And a method that has resulted in another milestone in our celebrated history: the all-new Audi A5.

A performance coupe that defies the strict rules governed by the conventional world of two-door design.

Pricing
Prices for a manual transmission A5 will start $39,900 with the automatic transmission option raising the sticker to $41,200. The A5 hits U.S. shores in the spring of 2008.

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Built on the next-generation A4 platform, dubbed B8, the A5 and S5 are long and wide, with a coupelike roofline and—what’s this?—a coupelike door count! Thank you, Audi, for reminding us of something that Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and certain others seem to have forgotten: coupes are cars with only two doors, period. As such, “duoportes” such as the A5 appeal only to specific types of people whose lifestyles do not include carpooling and who do not slog such things as other peoples’ kids, slobbering St. Bernards, or corn-fed colleagues. Coupes are for one person or one pair, and seldom more. They are personal and intimate; a reward, not an appliance.

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Emotional creatures that they are, coupes tend to be stylish first, and the A5 is no exception. It is breathtaking in pictures, but even more so on the road. Walter de’Silva’s talented team has tastefully advanced Audi’s passenger-car design beyond the current level that most already consider as tasteful and advanced as any in the automotive world. Gone is the semicircular roofline we’ve come to expect for the past decade, replaced by one with a more formal treatment for the rear-quarter glass (necessary to accommodate the heads of the rearmost pair of the A5’s infrequent quartet of passengers). The design departure on the roofline is somewhat of a surprise. That it is so gracefully applied is not.

The new nose—complete with soon-to-be-ubiquitous LED running lamps—is blunt and broad yet as sultry as Angelina Jolie 30 seconds after her wake-up call. On the A5, Audi’s single-frame grille finally seems natural, either because we’ve become accustomed to it, or because Audi’s other new coupes, the 2008 R8 and the 2008 TT, have made it look so good. The S5, of course, is a bit snootier in appearance with its egg-crate detailing and squared-off air intakes.

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All that said, what is most distinctive on the new coupes is the character line that rises over the fenders to accentuate the big wheels, which measure 18 inches on the A5, 19 on the S5. The longer wheelbase and the longitudinal engine mounting allow for proportions nearly as correct as, say, those of the new Jaguar XK, only with tidy, BMW 3-series–like dimensions. And its unexpected width—something also likely to characterize the next A4—is quite evident from behind, where horizontal lamps and wide-set tailpipes accentuate the car’s girth. From every angle, it works. Very, very well.

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For a start, this car is indeed “all new.” Its platform will underpin the next A4, though that car won’t necessarily be as wide as this one. A new transaxle design places the differential ahead of the clutch or torque converter, so that the front-axle centerline is now just 1.7 inches behind the engine (the A8 and Bentley Continental have a similar layout, but their axles are almost an inch farther aft). This arrangement extends the wheelbase for improved ride and reduces the front weight bias for crisper handling (S5 quattro models scale in at 54/46 percent front/rear). The A5’s direct-injected 3.2-liter FSI engine launches a novel new variable valve-lift system (see sidebar) to produce 265 horsepower with improved fuel efficiency. The S5’s 4.2-liter FSI V-8 is derived from those in the RS4 and R8 and tuned for 353 horsepower. Chassis highlights include a new braking system, with automatic hill-holding and electronic parking-brake application, and a change to a front-mounted steering rack positioned near the height of the wheel centers for improved steering feel. An electronic novelty-the so-called Smart Key-stores vital information about the car every time it’s used, including the odometer reading and any fault codes to expedite the service-writer’s job at the dealership.

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But chassis dimensions, electronic gizmos, and valvetrain gimmicks don’t inspire buyers to drop big bucks on a personal luxury coupe. This is an emotional right-brain decision driven by irrational aesthetic concerns, and toward that end Audi’s Italian-born former design chief Walter de’Silva has penned a mighty appealing shape here. Seen first as the Nuvolari concept in 2003, the production version looks even better from all angles-less massive, more graceful, and not at all like a super-size TT. One particularly delectable design flourish is the strip of white LEDs that underlines each headlight, serving as daytime running lights (drawing 40 percent less power than halogen DRLs). The only aesthetic trick the new car misses is the pillarless hardtop greenhouse, and given that a cabrio version is expected to join the lineup it could’ve been accomplished easily, but the underbody reinforcements needed for side-impact protection would’ve added too much weight. S5s are distinguished by more aggressive fascias, quad instead of dual tailpipes, a lowered suspension, aluminum mirror housings, and standard 18-inch wheels, up from the A5’s 17
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Scribbled on December 19th 2007 in Audi A5
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