THE RIDE: Two-door, four-passenger 2008 Audi A5 coupe.
DOWN THE ROAD: Available in two trims, the all-new car from the German automaker offers an exhilarating ride, putting enormous power at the driver's command. The quattro all-wheel-drive system makes the A5 remarkably athletic.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: A 3.2-liter V-6 engine pumps out 265 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 243 pounds-feet of torque at 3250 rpm. The FSI direct injection engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic or manual, which can take off from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 6.1 seconds. A five-link front and an independent trapezoidal-link rear suspension absorb serious bumps with skill and self-assurance. The coupe's on-center and razor-sharp feel is conveyed credibly via a speed-sensitive, rack-and-pinion power steering system. When you need to stop, the car's 12.6-inch ventilated front and 11.8-inch rear disc brakes come into play.
LOOK & FEEL: The muscular stance of the A5 is evident in the single-frame grille with the centered and familiar four-ring Audi emblem, large air intakes, right-angled headlights and wide tail lamps and dual exhaust outlets. The Misano Red Pearl effect ($750 option) on the exterior of my test car drew curious and appreciative looks, especially in parking lots. The interior is sumptuous and top-notch, as is expected of an Audi. The droplet-shaped surrounds for the speedometer and tachometer show that designers gave attention to every detail, resulting in a superb fit and finish. The 10-way power front leather seats are roomy and comfortable. Brushed aluminum trim on the doors, rear-seat beltline and near the shifter knob add to the car's visual appeal.
SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, curtain side airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes, antiskid system, stability and traction control, front and rear three-point safety belts and daytime running lights are standard.
OUT THE DOOR: $41,200, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. Thrill-seekers can opt for the $2,900 S Line sport package, which comes with a stiffer sport suspension, S Line bumpers, grille, badge on fenders and on aluminum doorsills, summer performance tires and black headliner, among other goodies.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, 245/40R18 alloy; wheelbase, 108.3 inches; length, 182.1 inches; weight, 3,737 pounds; fuel capacity, 16.9 gallons; highway, 27 mpg; city, 18 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: The addition of the A5 serves to boost Audi's lineup of performance-oriented luxury vehicles. Its exclusive quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system, coupled with a first-rate gearbox and an opulent cabin, should push sales figures up higher for the German carmaker this year.