German Diesel Coupes dominate the luxury segment. Time to see how the second generation Audi A5 measures against the competition from Stuttgart and Munich. First comparison test with the Audi A5 2.0 TDI, BMW 420d and Mercedes C 250 d via Auto-motor-und-sport.de.
At night all cats are gray. Transforming a regular middle-class sedan into an elegant two-door coupe – the three noble brands have done this for decades. To the demarcation there is usually a separate model designation and better series equipment, but also a higher price. Thus the Audi and the BMW cost 2,300 and 2,850 euros more than a comparable sedan, while Mercedes only asks a moderate 774 euros markup – not crucial in this class.
A5 with convincing 2-liter diesel
The A5 Coupé has a heavy heritage, the predecessor is considered a classic beauty. Now the car is slightly larger and more spacious, but above all significantly lighter than before. The cockpit also looks filigree and airy, the same as the A4 in layout and function, with all advantages and disadvantages: impressive quality and workmanship, clear displays in the form of the Audi virtual cockpit, but complex operation via MMI touch – much better by voice input.
The entry to the rear facilitates the forward sliding forward automatically, but because of the tight leg and head space, the two seats are not really inviting. At the same time, the large trunk with the three-fold folding rear seat back can be extended flexibly and the rear compartment can be individually controlled with the three-zone climate control system.
There are many great, practical (and expensive) extras in the test car – from the recommended “City” and “Tour” assistance packages to matrix LED headlights and head-up displays, to adaptive chassis and dynamic steering. The system works very homogeneously and precisely, imparts good road contact. In the Dynamic mode, it turns even more energetically, while the shock absorbers are particularly sporty and tangy. Gently, the Coupé springs up in comfort mode, but the rigid nature imposed by the 18-inch wheels is always maintained.
The Audi is otherwise pleasantly quiet, both wind and engine noise-wise. The two-liter TDI with 190 hp and 400 Nm does not make any fuss of diesel nature, shinning with its refined nature, good temper and low consumption (test result 6.5 l / 100 km). A diesel in a coupe? Why not: convincing under load, it harmoniously fits into the bigger picture. Only the seven-speed dual clutch transmission sometimes proves a bit slowly. And otherwise? All the best – from the high safety standard to excellent braking distances and easy-handling to the best cost balance, the A5 provides a convincing performance.
Dynamics hero BMW
The three-year-old BMW bravely holds itself against the newer rivals, loses a few points for assistance equipment and brakes, but claims to be the most fascinating car in this round. Although – or just because – the tested 420d with adaptive suspension is not as snappy as the earlier models, it can be agile, direct and punctually direct. The variable steering (250 euros) converts commands with perfect feedback, but without interferences, and the double lane change test is aced by the Bavarian in best time. Only in tight sweeps does it hitch with the traction.
All the more surprising is the good comfort, because the suspension swallows rough roads finer and quieter than the stiff-legged Audi. Above all, the rear passengers are also happier to be accommodated on the comfortable single seats with a pleasant leaning back and sufficient space on offer. The two-liter diesel is a bit chatty though. Despite a nominal balance with the Audi engine and nearly identical weight, however, it does not push quite so vehemently and consumes more fuel.
On the other hand, the optional automatic eight-speed automatic transmission is as impressive as ever with jog-free, accurate switching operations. The same is true in the case of the multimedia solutions on offer with their exemplary operation, hardly any improvements are currently possible. Only the partly simple plastics and cockpit layout do not fit rightly into claim and price class. But there is still a third Coupe waiting for its great performance.
Comfort king C-Coupe
The C 250 d Coupe is large on the outside, while the inside and trunk space are much smaller than in its rivals. First of all, the entry, the space on offer and the feeling of space in the rear are very cramped for adults, and the integrated headrests also hide behind the small rear windows. So we’d rather look forward to the noble, luxurious cockpit, overshadowed only by the operation of the Command system with its nested menus as well as the juxtaposes of controller, touchpad and steering wheel buttons – not completely convincing.
All the more talented, the chassis hides any gross distortions, especially with the optional air suspension (1.416 Euro). It absorbs long waves sovereign and short waves somewhat drier, keeping unpleasant fluctuations away from the cockpit. Despite the somewhat stiff suspension settings, the Mercedes is clearly the gentler coupe here. It underpins its defensive character with sensitive ESP interventions, which keep the delicately wiping tail at brisk cornering drive in check. Dynamics is not its business, the C 250 d rather lives quieter than the others.
Only the 2.1-liter diesel engine of the older generation OM 651 does not fit the picture: it sounds too gruff and it is too snarling for a cultivated Coupe. There is also little to see from its plus of power and torque, whereby the nine-speed automatic gearbox – with its suitable, smooth gear changes – matches the ZF transmission of the BMW in every respect. But in the face of the not particularly vehement brakes, even the most extensive safety equipment can not prevent the Mercedes from landing behind its rivals at the end.
1. Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TDI
Apart from the wooden suspension, the A5 shows hardly any weaknesses, shines with exquisite design, cultivated drive and favorable costs. A convincing overall package.
2. BMW 420d Coupe
In addition to its distinctive dynamics, the spacious 4-series also offers decent comfort, a great infotainment system and simple operation, but few assistant systems.
3. Mercedes C 250 d Coupé
Once again, the C-Class impresses with supple suspension and lush safety equipment. However, the coupe weakens in space and braking.