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ON PAPER, the Audi A5 is the market's most complete compact executive coupe.

Performance statistics, running costs, residual values, practicality - all of these things have been ruthlessly checked to improve upon standards set by rivals from Mercedes and BMW.

It's a clinical approach. And not surprisingly, it's produced a car that's very difficult to fault. Under the bonnet, if you're an enthusiastic driver, less is probably more.

With less weight to carry around, lower-order 2WD petrol and diesel models feel more agile and more responsive than their pokier 3.0-litre stablemates and I prefer the six-speed manual transmission to the auto-only set-up you're limited to on pricier models.

In the TFSI petrol line-up, even the entry-level 177PS 1.8-litre variant manages 60 in 7.9s on the way to 143mph.

Beyond that, there's the venerable 225PS 2.0-litre unit originally from the Golf GTI, this offered with four-wheel drive.

For me, a 2.0 TFSI A5 capable of 60 in around 6.5s on the way to 155mph is pretty much the perfect package.

The 2.0-litre TDI diesels also offer plenty of performance, with both 163 and 190PS variants capable of reaching 60 in around 8s on the way to around 140mph, the faster of the two offered with the option of quattro 4WD. If all that's not enough and you really do want an A5 with a bit more straight-line poke, then you'll be pleased to know that the higher-end petrol range is a lot more competitive these days.

Once, buyers had the unappetising choice of an ageing 3.2-litre V6 and a heavy, thirsty 4.2-litre V8 in the S5 model. These days, both units have been replaced by the quicker, more efficient 333PS 3.0 TFSI supercharged unit you'll find in the top S5 model.

If you're looking for six-cylinder diesel power, you'll be pointed towards the top 245PS 3.0 TDI quattro model we tried with its seven-speed S tronic auto transmission.

And this particular car really is very quick indeed, 60 from rest occupying just 5.8s on the way to an artificially limited 155mph maximum.

This A5 Coupe still offers a convincing piece of penmanship, with an interesting mixture of straight lines, sweeping curves and convex surfaces gelling into a very good-looking shape indeed.

It's one that looks even better in the metal, the wavy beltline that runs from the headlights back to the taillights remaining the car's most distinctive feature.

It's a practical shape, too, a proper four-seater, with wide doors that make it easy to get in and out of the back. Once installed in the rear, you'll find more room than in equivalent BMW 4 Series and Mercedes C-Class Coupe rivals, though the sloping roofline means that those over 6ft will prefer a place in the front.

The 455-litre boot is also the biggest in the class, though the boot aperture could be wider. Plus it can be extended to 829 litres by pushing forward the split-folding rear seats.

And behind the wheel? It's tailored like a sleek-fitting suit, everything being clear and elegant.

Overall, the Audi A5 may not be the sportiest or the most prestigiously badged compact executive sports coupe you can buy but the sales figures suggest it's the one that many customers in this segment would rather have.

It's proof that Vorsprung durch Technic is more than just a marketing slogan, but a passion for perfection that means the company's neverending quest for better, more efficient products never stops.

And this is certainly one of those.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 4, 2015
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