Road Test

Road Test: 2012 Audi A5 Sportback 1.8 TFSI

February 13, 2012

Audi A5 Sportback 2012_01The Audi A5 model series has been refreshed for the 2012 model year. The biggest exterior changes can be seen in its front end design. The new front bumper features new air inlets with massive struts, revamped grilles and flat fog lights. The engine hood has been reshaped with sharply chiseled edges. The target was to make the front end look even flatter and wider, a job in which Audi has succeeded quite well. Especially the newly designed headlights make the front of the car look more poised. It looks like the Audi A5 is always ready to go. The lower edge of the headlight forms a wave. With the optional xenon plus headlights, the LED daytime running lights form a narrow frame for the Xenon-headlight. The adaptive light system with dynamic cornering light and turning light is also available. Also the rear bumber and the rear lights of the Audi A5 have been redesigned.

Inside the car, everything looks familiar. There are few, small differences from the previous model, like the new steering wheel. Also updated are the ignition key, the selector lever for the automatic transmission, the button for the optional Audi drive select system and the controls of the high-efficiency air conditioning and multifunction steering wheel. Audi driver feels very much home in here and everyone else get acquainted with very quickly. As the Audi A5 Sportback is basically a 5-door coupe, the seating position is very low. When getting inside the car, you are really sitting down. The driving position in the Audi A5 is excellent. The steering wheel and the gearstick are in perfect positions to make driving really enjoyable. This our test drive car was equipped with the optional sport seats, which offer a great support but could have a bit softer padding for daily use. The rear doors of the Sportback significantly improve the use of the rear seat. Eventhough it looks a bit cramped, the rear seat is surprisingly comfortable place to travel also for an adult. The A5 Sportback is also now optionally available as a five-seater.

This 1.8 TFSI is a completely new engine. The four-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower, which doesn’t sound too special. More impressive is the peak torque, 320 Newton metres is available on a wide rev range between 1400 and 3700rpm. As there is a lot of torque available, the 1.8 TFSI is really enjoyable to drive with manual gearbox. Instead of this six-speed manual gearbox, you can also choose the multitronic -automatic transmission. In summer conditions, the Audi A5 Sportback 1.8 TFSI can accelerate from zero to hundred kilometres per hour in 8.2 seconds and reach top speed of 230 km/h. On these snow covered roads, we just got to see more of that yellow blinking light indicating that traction control was working. Four-wheel drive would be a great help to provide extra grip, but unfortunately 1.8 TFSI is only available with the front-wheel drive. To help accelerating on a slippery road, all front-wheel drive versions of the Audi A5 come as standard with the ESP stabilization program with electronic limited slip differential.

The new 1.8 TFSI isn’t just fun to drive, it is also surprisingly economical. The average fuel consumption is just 5.8 litres/100km and the CO2 emissions are as low as 136 g/km. To make this new engine powerful and economical, Audi has once more made some interesting innovations. In addition to FSI direct injection, the new 1.8 TFSI also uses indirect injection. This system injects the fuel at the end of the intake manifold. Indirect injection is used in the part-load range. The rail pressure of the FSI system has been increased from 150 to 200 bar. The direct injection system is active when starting off and at higher loads. The turbocharger in the 1.8 TFSI is also an all-new design that develops the high relative boost pressure of up to 1.3 bar. A lot of development work has been put also on the engine’s thermal management. The engine features a new fully electronic coolant regulation system. One of the primary objectives is to bring the motor oil up to operating temperature as quickly as possible following a cold start. This is done by keeping the coolant in the crankcase for a relatively long time. The cabin heating runs off of a separate loop in the cylinder head. The main radiator, which dissipates the heat to the environment, does not come into play until the latest possible moment. All together, the thermal management system reduces the CO2 emissions of the 1.8 TFSI by around 2.5 g per 100 km. The 1.8 TFSI also features the automatic start/stop system.

A new standard feature in the A5 model series is the electromechanical power steering. An electric motor generates the right amount of boost based on the driving speed. When driving straight, no boost is recreated. At first it feels a bit like the steering falls a sleep when driving straight, and wakes up when you start to turn. However, this was only noticeable at the first drive. After a few driving times, I didn’t even notice it anymore. Another minus is that the electromechanical steering doesn’t seem to provide the best road feedback. Although this might have been caused partly by the studless winter tyres. On the plus side is that the system reduces fuel consumption by up to 0.3 liters per 100 km and up to 7 g CO2/km because it consumes no energy while driving straight. New steering also tries to help the driver by intervining slightly when braking on a surface with less grip on one side of the car.

Another new feature in the Audi A5 is the Audi drive select. In the basic configuration, it adjusts the power steering boost, the accelerator characteristic, the shift points of the automatic transmission and the automatic air conditioning. Audi drive select offers four driving modes; comfort, auto, dynamic and efficiency. Preferred driving mode can be chosen by using a button in the cockpit. On a winter drive, it wasn’t easy to make a clear difference between these driving modes. On a dynamic mode, the steering felt a bit harder to turn, but otherwise there wasn’t any bigger differences between the driving modes. If you are going to have more optional features in your car, for example sport suspension with damper control, the sport differential or dynamic steering, these can be combines with the audi drive select and then the system might make more sense.

Specification

Engine

  • Petrol
  • 4-cylinder
  • 1798cc
  • Turbo

Power

  • 125 kW (170 hp) / 3800-6200rpm

Torque

  • 320 Nm / 1400-3700rpm

Transmission

  • 6-speed manual
  • FWD

0-100km/h / 0-62mph

  • 8.2 seconds

Top speed

  • 230 km/h

Fuel consumption

  • 5.8 l/100km

CO2 emissions

  • 136 g/km

Audi A5 Sportback 2012_02