Remember the Audi Nuvolari show car? That 2003 concept was design chief Walter de'Silva's first project at Audi; as we now see, it was also a faithful predictor of the new Audi A5, the brand's first full-size coupe since the Audi Coupe Quattro disappeared from the American market in the early 1990s.
De'Silva has not merely applied Audi's current design language to a two-door body. Instead, the A5 alters the Audi look. The one visual detail that takes some getting used to is the wavy line that runs along the flanks, linking the head- and taillamps. Unlike Audi's last coupe, the A5 features a conventional trunk lid instead of a hatchback. Martin Winterkorn, the former Audi chairman who is now in charge of the entire Volkswagen Group, explains why: "A separate trunk is always better for premium cars. It keeps the luggage away from the passengers, it keeps the noise out of the cabin, and it keeps the classic proportions intact."
At 182.3 inches, the A5 is 1.7 inches longer than the A4. Since the roofline doesn't drop away dramatically aft of the B-pillars, the rear seats offer enough headroom for grown-ups. Shoulder room is a bit more snug than in the A4, though, and the flat backrests are uncommonly upright. Behind them, the cargo compartment holds a useful 15.5 cubic feet.
Inside, the A5 is definitely more A6 than TT. As is typical with Audi, the quality of the materials is impressive. It's a classy driving environment--functional and comfortable, cool but not overstyled, comprehensively equipped and beautifully put together. You may not love every line stamped into the sheetmetal of the A5, but it's virtually impossible not to be impressed by this cockpit.
But there's more that's new than what you can see. The A5 is the first Audi model based on the so-called modular longitudinal platform (MLP). MLP is radically different from previously used components set. The front axle, for instance, is a five-link arrangement featuring upper and lower control arms. The suspension arms are attached to a subframe, which is in turn mounted rigidly to the body. The rear axle is a trapezoidal multilink setup. All suspension parts are made of aluminum. To reduce the front overhang by nearly four inches, the front differential is situated ahead of the clutch, as in the A8. This allows for an extended wheelbase of 108.3 inches, which exceeds that of the A4 by four inches.