BRITISH drivers love coupes. UK enthusiasts single-handedly kept the Ford Capri in production for years after sales ended in Europe and for the past ten years Blighty has been one of the biggest markets for the BMW 3-Series coupe.

No wonder Audi has high hopes for the sleek new A5.

The original A5 (this is the second generation) was still selling almost as strongly at the end of its life as it did at the beginning. New cars enjoy something of a sales honeymoon, but familiarity tends to breed contempt. That’s especially true of coupes which trade on their looks but the Audi continued to find a very loyal fanbase.

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Perhaps that is why the new one looks so similar to its predecessor – Audi has wisely chosen the evolution, not revolution route.

Mechanically there’s almost nothing carried over from the out-going A5. The new model is a port of the much-admired MLB Evo platform, a standardised set of parts that underpin many of the biggest-selling cars in the VW empire. Apart from the pedal box, the firewall and the windscreen angle, pretty much everything else can be pulled, stretched and dragged out as VW/Audi/Porsche sees fit. In fact, the MLB matrix is so flexible it can be found beneath vehicles as diverse as the Golf, the hulking Q7 and the Porsche Macan.

Such commonality allows VW to build cars more efficiently and spend the money in other areas, such as upgraded materials in the cabin or more equipment.

Everyone knows that a coupe stands or falls on its looks. The perfectly balanced proportions of the new A5 tick all the coupe troupes – the long bonnet, the stretched wheelbase, the ground-hugging body and short overhangs all serve to give the car a purposeful look.

The Audi singleframe grille is significantly flatter and wider than in the previous model – it’s a shame that, in this country at least, the effect is diluted by the need to ram a number plate in the middle of it.

The A5 launches in the UK with five engines: two TFSI and three TDI units. Audi’s engineers have ensured power output has increased considerably. Even the weediest A5 now has 190PS.

Compared with the previous model, they offer up to 17 per cent more performance while consuming as much as 22 per cent less fuel.

A manual six-speed gearbox or the smooth shifting seven-speed S tronic are available on the four-cylinder engines as well as the 218PS 3.0 TDI with front or all-wheel drive. An eight-speed Tiptronic semi-auto is reserved for the top diesel with 286PS and the S5 engine.

The new Quattro 4WD system, which debuted on the new Audi A4 Allroad Quattro 2.0 TFSI, is also available. At the moment it can be combined with the four-cylinder TFSI and TDI engines with manual transmission. Optimised for efficiency, Audi claims the drive system does not exhibit any perceptible differences to permanent systems in terms of traction and driving dynamics.

The A4 has been lauded for its new-found handling prowess which is good news if you’re a coupe lover because the A5 shares the same basic DNA. The new car can handle narrow, winding country lanes and long trips on the motorway with equal aplomb.

The old A5 was still setting the class standard for interior comfort and quality nine years after it first went on sale so hopes were high for the new model’s cabin.

Space for the driver and passengers is more generous while high-quality materials in a wide range of colours provide for a particularly pleasant ambiance and underscore the premium character of the coupe.

The A5 is a practical coupe, too. The luggage compartment offers a volume of 465 litres, 10 litres more than with the previous model. The rear seat has a 40:20:40 split and can be easily folded forward using boot levers.