A5 Sportback & S5 Coupe: Audi's dynamic duo
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The A5 Sportback and S5 Coupe have vital roles for the Audi brand in NZ
For Audi New Zealand, 2017 is going to be a significant year. Not only because of the increase in new or refreshed products coming here but also because of the number of launches it's having in such a short timeframe.
Audi NZ revealed the first Q2 compact premium SUV and S4 sedan and avant in Wellington to the motoring media in late February.
It followed that a few days ago with a media launch of the new S5 coupe and A5 sportback models.
Late May it will host motoring journos at two events: the refreshed Q7 and A3 e-tron, and then a few days later will reveal (and revel in) the RS3 sedan and TT RS sports coupe.
Audi then has invites out for late June for the launch of the new Q5 medium SUV and its fire cracker sibling, the SQ5.
July is a press conference-free month before it contemplates hosting motoring journalists at its annual Audi Ice Experience around Queenstown.
While Audi NZ staff have to endure motoring journalists for the first half of this year, there is the bright side to all the reveals. Its new products mean taking a fight to BMW and the premium brand high flyer, Mercedes-Benz.
Year to date 2017, Mercedes is sitting at 720 registrations for passenger vehicles, BMW at 540 and Audi has 533.
For the three premium brands, SUVs are important players, usually making up 50 per cent of sales. So Audi NZ will be pleased that, unlike Mercedes and BMW, it has a compact SUV, the Q2, that is performing beyond expectations.
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Add an all-new Q5 (a favourite choice for city and country drivers), and the non-stop demand for the Q7 large SUV and its staggeringly popular beefy SQ7 ... and Audi NZ will certainly pass 2000 new registraions for 2017.
So while SUVs are important players for Audi NZ, its sedan range garners favour with Kiwi customers. It launched the new A4 last year, a staple for the premium company, but the newly revealed S5 and A5 have vital parts to play for the German brand in this country.
Audi NZ says buyers of the "A5 family" are usually business owners and executives, with their next steps being the A6 and A7.
Globally, the number one reason customers buy from the A5 line-up is because of design, Audi NZ's marketing manager, Robert Barlow, told journalists at the recent press conference.
"The second reason is sophistication ... then sportiness with the cars just behind the R8 and TT," he said.
"The new A4 showcased technology and the new single frame grille, but the A5 is dynamic with its bulging bonnet."
The A5 was first on sale in New Zealand 10 years ago, and since then 1000 models have been sold here with half of that volume being sportback versions.
The three new models Audi NZ has launched or is launching include an A5 2-litre TFSI sportback, S5 3-litre TFSI coupe, and, from next month, the S5 3-litre TFSI sportback goes on sale.
The A5 sportback gets a 17 per cent increase in power over the previous model, now producing 185kW and 370Nm of torque. It accelerates from 0-100km/h in 6.0 seconds and consumes 6.2l/100km, a reduction of 22 per cent from the pervious A5.
The A5 sportback is priced from $98,400.
The S5 coupe and sportback gain the newly developed V6 3-litre TFSI engine that produces an impressive 260kW of power and 500Nm of torque.
It goes from 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds (S5) with fuel consumption of 7.5l/100km.
The S5 coupe and sportback are priced from $122,900.
Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system is standard on all variants.
The A5 sportback sits on 18in alloys while the S5s gain 19in plus head up display as standard.
The new A5 and S5 have a wider and more sporty look on the road with the muscular bonnet and wider front grille.
At the launch we first drove a A5 sportback from Karaka to the Awhitu peninsular and back, taking in open road speeds and 50km/h limits.
The 2-litre engine was paired with seven speed S tronic and handled the damp country roads with confidence, though the addition of quattro was reassuring.
For the drive from Karaka to Auckland city, through Clevedon, I was in the S5 coupe, with the V6 engine a delight despite the tenuous country road that had slips on them. The torque available helped when we had a clear path and could hit top speed, while quattro again was reassuring on the mud-laden patches.
But it was on the jammed Southern Motorway that Audi's driver assistance packages were appreciated. Standard in both models are Stop&Go function that allows the vehicle to brake, come to a full stop and start off again automatically at the driver's request. Traffic jam assist can take over steering on well-built roads operating at speeds of 60 km/h and above.
With the traffic not going about 10km/h, it was great to take a break from "driving" and let the S5 take over.