AUDI A5 – SNOW BLOWER
By Casey Williams
Think about this for a fun time: driving a high-powered purebred sport coupe into the worst storm of a Michigan winter. There will be lots of ice, deep snow, semi trucks spraying salt residue, and crazy lunatics in 4×4 trucks who discover the limits of adhesion by way of center medians and guardrails. Sound fun? Probably not, but the Audi A5 proved to be a snow blower beyond reproach during my drive to the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
It wouldn’t be my first wintry drive to Detroit. I knew this year would be a repeat when 45 minutes North of Indianapolis, a Buick Park Avenue did a full-out pirouette across two lanes, a median, two more lanes, barely missing a salt truck, and nose-dived down a hill into the woods. Had I been driving a number of distinguished domestic sport coupes, I would have immediately sought refuge at the nearest Motel 6 and waited out the wrath of Mother Nature in warmth and safety.
However, in the A5, the Quattro all-wheel-drive system and electronic stability control were doing such a good job that I didn’t realize the gravity of low friction until I let off the gas and gave the systems a chance to re-adjust with a quick flick. I almost wet my pants when the Buick went a-blitz, but settled into the safety net provided by Audi. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes worked just as well on the slick roads as they do when bringing the car down from triple digits in the dry.
Closest I came to biting it came while dusting a semi truck in the passing lane with 4” of snow and drifted a little too far to the left. As stability control grabbed my bum, I put power to the wheels, let the Quattro system sort things out, and steered back to my lane with heart a-beating. I had visions of my partner coming to the hospital to chip my remains out of an ice block. It wouldn’t have surprised him at all that I was passing a semi in a snowstorm.
Interior trim is as elegant and luxurious as a suite at the Beverly Hilton. Navigation worked flawlessly, audio sounded great, and Sirius Satellite radio was a great traveling companion to relieve my driving stress. Real wood warms the space and contrasts with the high-tech barrage coming from the multi-function display screen that manages navigation, audio, and climate systems. Sirius Satellite Radio and 10-speakers kept me company during the drive; Bluetooth phone connectivity and a rear backing camera delivered me in touch and safe. Heated leather seats smelled like Heaven and warmed like Hell.
It’s a shame that salt and snow blotted out the car’s stunningly beautiful body and exterior design that is equal parts bank vault German and British elegance. From the rear and front, the car is as exotic as an R8, but from the side could be mistaken for a Bentley Continental. LED headlamps and taillamps, as well as adaptive headlamps, illuminate with the voracity of summer sunshine.
While in Detroit, the weather finally gave me a break and melted enough snow off the road to allow some fun. It was pure joy to step into the A5’s 265-horsepower DOHC 3.2-litre V6 engine, paddle shift the six-speed automatic transmission, and claw pavement with all four wheels. I drove the hyper-powered S5 over the summer and found it to be a handful during anything but full-out storming. Totally different, the A5 is docile around town, but steps up when called. The suspension is stiff, steering is quick, and brakes grab…just as an exclusive GT should. Fuel economy rates a reasonable 18/27-MPG city/hwy.
An Audi A5 many not be completely beyond reproach. It definitely needs snow tires and rear passengers are advised to seek an A4 instead. I’m just glad I wasn’t driving so many muscle cars that would have been in three ditches past Sunday alongside the Buick Park Avenue. Few coupes can claim to be so much during the worst.
Please send questions and comments about this review to Casey at CRWAuto@aol.com.
2009 Audi A5 3.2 Quattro
Four-passenger, AWD Coupe
265-HP 3.2-litre V6, 6-spd automatic, AWD
Must-have features: Style, performance.
Fuel economy: 18/27-MPG city/hwy
Audi is a gay-friendly company.
Read other Audi reviews by Gaywheels.com’s writers