Exorcising myths — splendid turbodiesel is surely the pick of Audi’s A5 bunch
I’m going out on a limb here, but this car makes me wonder about this whole green energy debacle. Interestingly, it’s an Audi, which means it’s in part to blame for the whole fiasco. After all, it’s powered by an engine, which ancestor is responsible for Dieselgate. And the guilt trip that’s tipped the planet on its alleged orbit towards electrification.
YOU’RE ONLY A CHEAT IF YOU ARE CAUGHT
See, VW cheated its four-cylinder and V6 turbodiesels in most VWs, Porsches and Audis an effort to dodge carbon tax breaks. They say in racing, that you’re only a cheat if you are caught cheating. And guess what?
The VW Group ultimately coughed up $15-billion (yes, a quarter-trillion rand) in fines, among other penalties for its carbon sins. And it’s been doing triple backward somersaults ever since in its efforts to atone. VW promises an all-electric future, has exited combustion motorsports and changed its famous VW logo in deference to its guilt-adopted clean persona. Hell, the US branch even cocked up its April fool’s joke when it released that Voltswagen clanger a few days too soon!
Now to put this whole thing into my perspective, consider this: According to various sources, transport accounts for 16% of global CO2 emissions. Of which road transport is 11%. Cars are responsible for about 4%, of which a quarter of cars are diesels. So diesel cars contribute to about one percent of global carbon emissions. Industry creates a quarter of global CO2 and heating buildings adds another fifth. Never mind, farting cows contribute 50% more than all cars!
DIESEL CARS ARE THE WHIPPING BOYS
But diesel cars remain the whipping boys of global emissions crusaders under the clueless curatorship of a pubescent messiah.
So, when this splendid sky turquoise Audi A5 cropped up for test, we were quite astonished to stroll around the back and discover that it’s a 40 TDI version. Really? In the context of the above, that was a bit of a shock! Set apart by a ‘tauter, more powerful’ look, the latest A5 is highlighted by a broader, flatter chrome-framed titanium black single Audi trademark grill and this chunkier blue S-Line has cool optional 19 inch S contrast wheels.
And it got better. Within a few minutes of taking the wheel, we were mesmerised by it. Agile yet comfortable, this is a very nice car to drive. It doesn’t feel like a diesel engine. And its diesel torque is beneficial to every aspect of its envelope, making it so very easy to drive, too. It’s great on the open road, where that torquey demeanour would make you swear that you’re pedalling a S5.
A SPECIALIST DRIVING SCALPEL
Braking is secure, it turns in beautifully, follows though marvellously, with an aplomb that enhances more confidence at every turn. A little hard on the road in regular driving, that’s all very quickly forgotten as this engine, Audi quattro drive and a fine chassis conspire to deliver a specialist driving scalpel. There’s no diesel clatter — the engine note is great and the cabin silent. Best of all was a 750 kilometre range, even though a few fuel gauge segments were accounted for.
All that happens in sumptuous, luxurious and efficient style. A5’s typically Audi great cabin makes a few good haptic touch MMI infotainment improvements to enhance ease of use. The highly connected system has smartphone logic and feel and cleaner graphics via an MIB 3 Communication box with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, free-text input search and natural-language voice control.
Live and integrated Google Earth navigation includes traffic information, destination trading hours, parking availability and even weather updates. Although certain rivals still offer a little greater versatility in operation, you’d need to try those out and fully understand them to actually know.
BRILLIANT AUDI VIRTUAL COCKPIT
Most of that is also controllable via the A5’s chunky multifunction steering wheel, which also selects the brilliant full-HD display Audi virtual cockpit’s three instrumentation views complimented by a head-up display. Our A5 also packed an optional Audi phone box and splendid Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound.
Audi connect including roadside and emergency assistance is however standard. This crucial piece of fresh motoring technology likely saved the life of a friend who was unfortunate enough to recently suffer a violent crash. Dazed and hurt, he was shocked to hear someone asking whether he was OK within seconds of impact. It was the response centre communiacting via the stricken car’s audio system. His cry for help and the urgent response to that call probably saved his life.
But the most amazing aspect of this particular A5, is how brilliantly it merges a fine Audi quattro grand tourer with a brilliant turbodiesel engine. Not surprisingly considering my introduction above, besides appearing in the price list, the A5 press release late last year makes scant mention of this model. Which is a pity. Because after driving it, I think it’s the pick of the bunch.
A HIATUS OF IGNORANCE
Worst of all, is that while this 140 kW 400 Nm engine has now made huge strides since the embarrassment its predecessor caused when its makers cheated its carbon credentials, its future development is stymied by the rush to electrify and satisfy the wan of a misguided green front. Which I still believe, misses the point completely.
One day, when all is said and done, I’m convinced that the world will come to rue turbodiesel technology suffering this hiatus of ignorance. Its engine may very well have been the seed of all that carbon ignorance in the first place, but if this little secret is anything to go by, the car industry and its carbon controllers have clearly missed a trick.
This 40 TDI is the pick of the Audi A5 bunch. The irony just in that, is palpably embarrassing… — Michele Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Audi A5 coupe 40TDI quattro S line Engine: 140 kW 400 Nm 2-litre turbodiesel I4 Drive:7-speed automatic AWD TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 2.77 sec 0-100 km/h: 6.80 sec 0-120 km/h: 9.60 sec 0-160 km/h: 17.45 sec 400m: 14.8 sec @ 148 km/h 80-120 km/h: 5.09 sec 120-160 km/h: 7.85 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 235 km/h Fuel: 6 l/100 km CO2: 158 g/km Warranty/Service: 1y unl./5y 100K km LIST PRICE: R869K RATED: 9