Audi A5 Coupe: Taming my right foot

  • We find out how economical our long term car is
  • Helpful on-board systems keep fuel economy high
  • A 70-mile round trip ends with a surprising figure

We’ve all come to expect that those pesky official fuel consumption figures are not really relative to everyday driving, they do however serve as a good benchmark to compare other cars.

So when you’re considering your next car, the models with the higher fuel consumption figures should, in theory, be the most economical.

There are lots of mechanical components which contribute to a cars fuel economy like the aerodynamics, engine technology and weight of the car, but the biggest influencing factor is the person driving it.

Now I don’t know about you, but driving efficiently is not always at the forefront of my mind. I like to enjoy driving and driving economically (or eco driving as it’s also known) seems, how can I put it, boring.

However, as our long term A5 Coupe is fitted with one of Audi’s range of efficient engines, called ‘Ultra’, I thought it would be a good opportunity to find out if it’s really as economical as it claims to be.

While on test with us we’ve been achieving around 54mpg on a variety of different trips without really trying to drive economically, which is actually pretty good, still quite a way from the official 67.3mpg combined figure claimed for the 2-litre powertrain though.

So, with my ‘eco’ head firmly on, it was time to see how our car fared on a 70-mile round trip which included plenty of town driving, dual carriage ways and country lanes.

Gentle braking and accelerating plays an important part of trying to drive economically. My right foot was itching to dispatch the car's full 161bhp and 400Nm of torque, however I resisted, instead slowly building the speed rather than pushing my foot to the floor.

The same method applies with braking too, making sure you start slowing the car well-ahead of the junction or traffic lights ahead. 

Stopping and starting in traffic has an effect on fuel consumption too, like most modern day cars now, our A5 Coupe is fitted with stop/start as standard. Once the handbrake is applied and the car is in neutral it turns the engine off, put your foot on the accelerator and it will start up again - making full use of this system will help fuel economy, especially if you live in a city.

Driving economically doesn’t necessarily mean slower than usual either, during the test I kept consistently to the speed limits.

Changing gears at the right time is important too, luckily for me the A5 comes with a gear change indicator which flashes up when I should be changing up or down a gear.  This very useful feature is standard on a lot of new cars now, and although we are taught that 2000rpm is the optimum number, the A5 was indicating changing up much earlier, preferring 5th gear when driving at 35mph.

Our long-termer is also fitted with Audi’s Drive Select system which makes changes to the suspension, set-up, throttle response and steering, depending on which of the five modes (Dynamic, Efficiency, Comfort, Auto and Individual) you choose.

The most noticeable differences felt on the road in Efficiency mode is the steering, which becomes lighter, and the throttle response which is slower than when you’re in Dynamic mode. In Efficiency mode other systems in the car are also turned down like air-con to maximise fuel consumption.

Cruise control is another feature which can help improve fuel consumption, especially if parts of your journey involve motorway driving, maintaining a speed stops the driver from accelerating or braking more harshly than normal. The cruise control on the A5 is simple to use and is operated via a knob behind the steering wheel.

I arrived back home after my 70 mile trip and was eager to take a glance at the trip computer which was reset before I set off, it read 62.7mpg, not bad at all if I say so myself and not far off the official combined figure of 67.3mpg either.

Mileage: 2,698

Fuel economy: 52.6mpg (calc)