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Understated Masterpiece: The Audi A5

February 6, 2012 by Matt

2013 Audi A5 S5 Silver

Absolute design perfection. Give me a choice of any production car today (yes, that includes certain Aston Martins) and I’d pick an A5 without hesitation. It defines flawless, understated automotive design.

Inspired by and yet somehow even more attractive than Audi’s Nuvolari quattro concept car, the A5 exemplifies Audi’s position as a style leader in the automotive world. To a casual observer, the ideal proportions, the ready stance, the beautiful C-pillars and character line running down the car’s flanks—these are obvious points of interest. The most remarkable aspect of the A5, though, may be its restraint.

2013 Audi A5 S5 White

Relative to what they could have done, the geegaws and gimicks they could have peppered the exterior with, and especially compared to the manner in which other automakers vying for supremacy in the “personal GT” market niche adorn their cars, the A5 is a model of proportion over decoration—my favorite design refrain. The most immediate relation of the Audi coupe styling-wise may not be a car at all, but one of Apple’s latest creations. Gem-like consumer electronics such as the iPad or iPhone 4 share the A5’s clear focus on detail and shape and generate a similar sort of impression in that they’re initially unremarkable, but possess a sort of transcendent allure that compels and captivates the longer you look, the more you study the object and experience it.

Audi A5 S5 Interior Inside Cockpit Red

Of course, none of this would matter much to the average enthusiast if the car’s mechanicals and underpinnings weren’t in good order. And while the A5’s dynamics aren’t quite a match for those of, say, a BMW 3 Series, Audi has made huge progress preserving the benefits of its quattro AWD system while eliminating the drawbacks in terms of weight distribution, chassis balance and steering feel. It’s no light and nimble corner-carver, but the A5 is not just a cushy boulevardier, either—it can hold its own in the twisty stuff. And the car is available with a number of excellent engine options, from Audi’s direct-injection, turbocharged 1.8l 4-cylinder, all the way up to the range-topping RS5’s 444-hp, 4.2l V8, and a host of diesels in between.

The biggest draw for me, I think, is that it’s the kind of car that represents an ideal image of myself, so to speak. Some cars complement various individual aspects of my personality while ignoring others, but the A5 exudes a sense that it’s the kind of car that would be driven by me at my most successful, most put-together, most magnetic in all the best ways. If that sounds like the sort of pitch that a car salesman would use on a T-bird tire-kicker in the mid-’50s, perhaps it is: “The car for the man who’s arrived.” Times change; human nature doesn’t. But the triteness of my attraction to the A5 doesn’t lessen its appeal, which remains considerable.

Filed under: Aesthetics, Audi


  1. John D says:

    Agreed. Although I’m not sure that I would take it over an Aston…but in all other areas we are most assuredly in agreement. ;)

  2. Diane says:

    I can haz brand new Audi? :D

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