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Driven: Audi A5 40 TFSI quattro

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Audi is making some stellar cars at the moment. Aside from their gorgeous (and rapid) RS derivatives, the Ingolstadt based brand has a slew of SUV offerings for seemingly everybody. From the compact and boutique Q2 to the immensely practical Q7, there's an Audi for everyone.

As SUV's become more and more popular, other segments are dying out. Not content with just killing of sedans, crossovers and SUVs have started gunning for hatchbacks and even coupes. Many companies have simply given up, with Mazda recently announcing that it would no longer be offering the 3 Sedan in SA. Similarly, VW is only offering the Golf in GTI and R guises.

Crossovers and SUVs are taking over - but they're not everyones cup of tea. Some people, to whom style is a priority, still want a practical (and sensible) car that they can use everyday - but with plenty of style and class.

Since 2007, Audi's A5 has been doing just that. The recipient of an understated facelift, the updated A5 has a retouched front end and rear. The changes are minute, but keep the classy coupe looking fresh and modern. Our test unit, painted in a rather lovely shade called District Green Metallic, looked fresh and suitably premium. The optional 20-inch 'polygon' alloys (R35 500) looked fantastic - and thankfully, didn't ruin the good ride quality.

The 40 TFSI derivative uses a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine which produces 140 kW and 320 Nm, of torque. Paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the German premium two-door can reach 100 km/h in a claimed 7.3 seconds. That doesn't sound especially fast, but it feels responsive and nippy in town. On the tarmac, the A5 feels superb. The turbopetrol motor feels refined and melds well with the seamlessly-shifting 'box. Driving on the long road, the floaty Audi is impressive. As a luxury car, it excels at remaining comfortable and composed. But put your foot down, and the responsive gearbox allows for quick movements - like overtaking, for example.

Audi claims that the A5 40 TFSI uses just 6.4 L/100 km. Over our time with the car, we managed to average 7.4 L/100 km over our time with the coupe - still impressive, though. It's worth noting that the fuel economy gets considerably better when driving on the motorway.

The cabin of the A5 is a great place to spend time. Not as spacious as the A4 sedan (upon which the A5 is based), the coupe still offers an impressive amount of passenger room. The boot is large (450 litres), more than enough for groceries or a week-long vacation. From behind the wheel, there's nothing to complain about - it's easy to get comfortable behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel. The seats offer plenty of adjustment and have plenty of support.

Build quality, as expected from Audi, is superb. There's a great feeling of solidity. Everything you touch - from the buttons to the trims - feels plush and premium.The MMI infotainment system is easy to navigate. In fact, the entire interior - which still uses physical dials and buttons - is an absolute joy to use.

VERDICT

Audi's coupe offering really is a great vehicle. It has a wonderful interior that is both well-built and premium. The powertrain has a great balance between efficiency and performance and has a decent amount of standard equipment. At R792 500, the A5 is a compelling alternative to the ubiquitous SUV and hatchbacks that are so popular with consumers. It stands out with an elegant design, tasteful styling and a classy cabin. What's more, you don't have to sacrifice practicality for the exclusivity of driving a coupe.

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