Audis A5 is no Dinghy by Design

2008 Audi A5

I was standing with designers when the A5 broke cover at the 2007 Geneva Auto Show. They weren't Audi designers, but definitely interested parties. Audi's Walter da'Silva leads one of the most talented design staffs in the automotive world so the competition lines up for the show.

There was much talk about the "lazy line" that gave the A5 a bit of a sag in mid-body. One design Veep sniffed that the A5 looked like "a partly deflated rubber dinghy." Ouch.

I could see the slouch, but I really admired how sleek the upper looked, and once again gave the strong grille high marks for presence.

So now it's here, rolling on the street in a vivid blue that makes it hard to find that droopy line. Instead, every one of the three valet parkers to whom I handed the A5 for safekeeping waxed eloquently and overlong on just how spectacular this car was.

"You brought the first R8 I ever saw," shouted one, "and I knew it was you again from a block away. Oh my God this car is beautiful!"

So there you have it, Mr. It Looks Like a Rubber Dinghy.

I know some of the guys are bored by two-tone taupes and beiges, but there isn't a surface inside this A5 that doesn't reek of quality, precision, and taste. I'm also a big fan of MMI, which makes short work of diving deeply into the electronic layers of audio, nav, and temperature controls that I frequently access. This is the most sensible array of excess equipment assembled in a luxury car today.

It's a slight bit underpowered, but nevertheless a pleasant car to drive. The S version is the one to wait for.

We had occasion to drive this beautiful car last year shortly after its launch here in the UK and we got the same response from onlookers. Though it was the stonking S5 variant - and therefore more imposing because of its chromed wing mirrors, 'V8' badge on the fenders and fabulous wheels - there is no denying the A5 is a gorgeous example of modern, understated elegance. Too bad we had to give it back to the press office...
I was present at a dinner in Geneva on the eve of the auto show, in the wake of the 60 Minutes report on Audi's unintended acceleration "problem." It was a VW/Audi dinner led by Dr. Piech, the chairman. Keith Crain of Automotive News was there, as was Mr. David E. Davis, Jr. Mr. Crain asked Dr. Piech what he thought of the situation and much to the horror of the VW pr guys, he started barking about the problem with women drivers who've never driven anything but GMs not knowing the difference between an accelerator and a brake pedal. Chins hit the table. It was kind of like Obama on the subject of small town mores. We could relate, but couldn't believe he said it.
It is a beautiful car! I test drove it and was kind of thrown by the brake pedal dominating the floor and the gas pedal this skinny thing way off to the right. It's fallout from that whole 'unintended acceleration' fiasco, I guess.

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