NEW AUDI COUPE
Initially, there's a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel and for the exclusive use of the S5, A 4.2-litre petrol V8. It's remarkable how close they are for pull, the outcome being that on a straight, the two are pretty evenly matched. Whats particularly impressive is how flexible they both are.
Ride & Handling
The A5 and S5 are more grand tourers rather than out-and out sports coupes, although with a far higher level of competence than the current A4. They just lack that incisive edge that makes the rival BMW 3 Series so good to drive. They ride well, however - firm, but without the rock-hard feel that's often been a by-product of Audi's sportier cars.
By any standards, these are refined cars. The V6 diesel sounds more like a V6 petrol, while the S5's V8 has a cultured bark that's to be enjoyed rather than endured. Wind noise is apparent only at the motorway limit, and road noise is rarely an issue.
Buying & Owning
Audi hasn't been in this sector of the market for many years, so its hard to tell how the A5 will fare for depreciation, but coupes generally lose value faster than saloons. The A5 is cheaper to buy than its other German rivals, but the weight of the four wheel drive hardware hampers economy on some models.
Quality & Reliabilty
Audi is a byword for interior trim quality and the A5 mostly keeps the reputation intact, although the untextured plastics in the middle of the dash are a bit of a surprise. Otherwise, the fit and finish are top class. Audi reliability isn't always as good as buyers have a right to expect, so here's hoping the company has turned the corner.
Safety & Security
From both the passive (seatbelts and airbags) and active (anti-lock brakes and stability control) points of view, the A5 has everything buyers of an expensive, quick coupe would expect.
Behind the wheel
If the devil is in the details, then Audi is hellishly good at car interiors. The dash is a case of 'a place for everythingand everything in its place', the driving position is excellent and the instrument graphics are lovely. High sides, a tall dash and angled back window hinder visibility, though, so it's a good thing that rear parking sensors are fitted.
Space & Practicality
Audi describes the A5 as a four-seater coupe. That depends who the four are really. The rear seats are certainly far too cramped for tall adults, but the worst thing is the inelegant struggle to climb in and out of the back. Its claustrophobic in there, too - kids won't enjoy it. However, there is at least a big boot and folding rear seats.
You won't want for luxuries in the A5, but there's plenty more you can add to personalise the car, too. Leather, a concert sound system compatible with MP3 Players, climate control, light and rain sensors and xenon headlights are standard. The S5 has sports seats, bigger wheels and some unique trim details.
PLLD Value £33,430
CO2 emissions g/km) 191 - Manual
Insurance group 17
Combined mpg 39.2
Tested by: SW
AA WARNING ON
Thousands of business drivers face a summer of overheating and seized engines due to their ignorance of basic vehicle checks.
Two-thirds of company car drivers do not check the coolant and oil levels of their cars as often as recommended, while one in five admit they have no idea to do so.
A survey compiled by the AA reveals that the vast majority of employees using cars for work are not doing enough checks although 80% said they would do so if they were shown how to.
Last year alone, the AA attended 13,000 call-outs relating to coolant issues and 12,500 for engine problems due to low oil levels. The bill to companies from repairs, administration and lost working time could run into millions of pounds as a result.
The issue of maintenance checks has come into sharp focus in recent years as service intervals have increased and drivers assume that modern cars are more reliable and therefore need less looking after.
Particularly at risk are drivers who use their own cars and organise their own servicing.
Reacting to the problem, the AA has urged fleets to remind drivers of the issues and has created a number of podcasts demonstrating how to do simpl tasks, which fleet managers can forward to colleagues. The can be found at www.theaapodcasts.com
Changing a wheel
Checking the oil level
Checking windscreen wipers
Packing a vehicle safely
Preparing for a journey
Driving in Europe
NEW BMW 5-SERIES IS 25% MORE FUEL EFFICIENT
It may not look much different, but BMW'S new 5-series promises to be even more popular with fllets, thanks to some significant engineering enhancements.
On sale from March, the revised range of saloons and tourings boast engines that are up to 25% more fuel efficient tahn before, as well as a host of interior detail changes and a mild facelift.
Thanks to the use of a new fuel injection system, nearly every engine in the range returns more miles to the gallon than ever before, with the 525d being 21.5% more efficient, the 530d 13.5% and the 535d 17.5%. There are also significant savings across the petrol line-up, with the 525d being 25.3% more fuel efficient. Prices range from £26,980 to £49,805, with slight increases across the range.
TOP 10 FLEET MODELS
If you wish to take a minibus abroad (except eire), it must be fitted with a tachograph. This is required on all vehicles capable of carrying more than eight passengers. You will also need the following:
- Way bill. This exempts the driver from the local licensing rules abroad. It can be obtained from the confederation of passenger transport (0207 240 3131)
- VE103. This is required if the minibus is leased. It replaces the V5 and confirms the vehicle is on hire and that the registered keeper has consented to it being taken abroad.
- Proof of insurance.
- A driver's licence. This must show D or D1 entitlement. If you hold an older-style paper driving licence, take an official translation.
FLEETS MUST CHASE HOLIDAY OFFENDERS
Fleets look set to face extra administration under plans to pursue British Motorists for parking fines and speeding tickets issued abroad.Government ministers have been given the DVLA approval to pass the details of British Motorists to foreign police forces, which will then chase any outstanding parking tickets or speeding fines.
It is reported that from March next year, the DVLA will also distribute tickets on behalf of authorities abroad, but will not be able to penalise drivers by adding penalty points to their licences.Under the new laws, EU member states will be legally bound to follow up unpaid fines if requested by another member state
Such a move would affect company drivers, and their fleet operators, travelling abroad on business or for pleasure.
Some motoring organisations have raised concerns over which language the fines will be issued in and whether drivers will have the same access to appeal as they would in their own country.
Officials at the DVLA are unable to confirm that they had been given permission to pass on driver details.
COMPANY FLEET USER CHECKLIST
Do you check driving licences on a regular basis?
Do you check any LGV or other additional driving entitlements on a regular basis?
Do you check references for new employees?
Is your road safety policy issued to all employees and are they aware of what is required of them?
Do you adhere to current laws e.g mobile phone policies and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) work related road safety document?
Do you have a formal appraisal process?
Are drivers issued with a handbook with strict company rules and disciplinary proceedings laid out?
Do you have an internal safety committee or health and safety officer?
Do you have in force a drink/drug driving policy?
COMMERCIAL VAN TAX
Until 6th April 2007, commercial vehicles used to travel to and from work will attract no benefit-in-kind charge. If the users enjoy unrestricted private use even if provided with fuel, they will be taxed on a flat rate benefit of just £500 per annum.
From 6th April 2007, use of the vehicle to and from work will remain untaxed, however the benefit-in-kind charge for unrestricted use will increase to £3000 and if supplied with fuel, a further tax will be charged at £500. Whilst this appears to be a considerable increase, for a standard rate payer this will equate to paying around £660 a year which is less than 40% of the car tax attracted for an equivalently priced car.
WHAT TO TELL YOUR DRIVERS
If you suspect you have been involved in a staged accident,
do not say anything other than 'it is a matter for our insurance companies'.
If anyone is injured, call the police.
Take as many pictures as possible of the accident, including the driver, passengers, vehicle and any damage.
The identity of the driver is crucial so take a good description of them.
Establish how many passengers are in the other car and take a good description of them.
Try to find an independent witness for the accident but be wary of any witnesses quick to offer their services as they may be corrupt.
Take note of any other cars involved, including damage and registration numbers.
Be Wary of any companies that contact you quickly, offering to repair your car, unless they are through your insurance company.
If you suspect the accident was intentional, inform your insurance company at the earliest opportunity.
If you know of anyone involved in staging accidents, call the IFB Cheatline on 0800 328 2550.
REDUCING THE RISKS
Be careful when approaching roundabouts and do not look for a gap in the traffic until you are at the Give Way line. Ensure your path immediately infront is clear before pulling out.
Watch your speed when approaching roundabouts, junctions and slip roads.
Maintain awareness of your surroundings at all times. Don't assume that other drivers will always act rationally.
Your best weapon is driving defensivley, maintaining a safe distance between yourself and any vehicle in front to allow an emergency stop if necessary.
SAT - NAV SETS OFF THEFT EPIDEMIC
An epidemic of smash-and-grab incidents has made portable satelite navigation units the biggest threat to fleet vehicle security.
The large range of driver assistance and entertainment devices that are now in use, including satellite navigation units, digital media players, Blackberries and laptops, has proved fruitful for theives who are willing to break side windows in order to seal such items.
So be aware and keep valuable items out of sight.