The brand-new A5 is lighter, stronger, and different from the previous generation; but is it a keener contestant in the premium coupés segment?
Overall Score 89/100
There are almost no surprises with the brand new A5, and this is exactly what Audi-faithful customers are expecting. Ingolstadt doesn't care about the "new me" game most of the car manufacturers are playing nowadays. All Ingolstadt cares about is Vorsprung Durch Technik. And it does a good job opposing radical change, although there's a risk involved.
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One just couldn’t ask for a better noise on a 2.0-liter four pot. Regardless of where you listen to it from (inside or outside the car), this swift four banger will delight your ears every time you push it towards the 6,000 rpm mark. Its voice is, of course, tweaked through the speakers to reach this point, but hey!—sometimes a little help is needed to make the best of something good. And it’s not just all talk, no trousers with this one. At 248 hp (252 PS), the slightly more powerful TFSI unit can get the A5 to 62 mph / 100 km/h, from a standstill, in 5.8 seconds. And it’s not about how fast it goes, but how reactive it is—thanks to the faultless 7-speed S Tronic transmission. There’s literally nothing to not like about this setup.
You probably expect a “close, but not quite there” line here, since this is an Audi. The thing is, in quattro guise, and with a light(er) 2.0-liter engine, Audi’s coupé is a really playful toy, although not as engaging through its electromechanical steering wheel as a keen driver would desire – but not bad either. You’ll have to fight the initial understeer a bit with a throttle impulse and the rear axle will start pushing. But the A5 is not for sideways trashing, but rather for apex sticking—courtesy of the self-locking differential and the torque vectoring features boasted the quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The A4 was awarded a five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash testing, so the A5 is expected to follow. In case everything goes wrong, the front (for both the driver and passenger) and side airbags will take a hit. The safety equipment included in the standard package is further comprised of Pre Sence City assistant (detecting and preparing the car for an imminent collision), cruise control, and active lane assist. The optional safety equipment list, on the other hand, will cover all your safety needs and and then a few — rearview camera, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, congestion assistant, etc.
If you’re looking for a coupé, cabin space clearly is not your top priority. That said, you’ll find the A5 a pleasant surprise, as it’s not as serried as you’d think. A couple of six-footers on the backseats are obviously not a brilliant idea — the sloped roof will reduce headroom — but it’s not an impossible one either. The front seats offer plenty of head/hip/knee room in exchange. The suspension is set to be stiffer on the A5 compared to A4’s anyway, so if you opt for the S Line sports suspension, and 19-inch wheels, the ride will get less enjoyable – choose carefully.
There is a lot to like about the A5's cabin — fact confirmed with any of this brand’s models. Audi is the car maker for which “haptic delight” is not only a romantic description, but a priority mission in the interiors department. All the controls you interact will respond with a perfect sounding “click” — a detail Audi wants you to know it’s been worked on. The A5’s cabin is something you like getting in touch with; literally.
With 465 liters worth of cargo space, Audi secured bragging rights with the most spacious trunk in this class. It's not only big, but the way the lid is shaped makes it quite practical. Once you go up the options list path, the boot can be operated by gestures, and the towbar will pop-up automatically from behind the car. The 40/20/40 backseat is foldable, but will not create a plane surface with the trunk floor. What would you like to carry that’s so big anyway?
For the first time since tablet-like displays conquered our cars' interiors, I didn’t look at the A5's screen as being annexed to the dashboard after the manufacturing process has ended. This happens for two reasons: the dash is boring, or the design altogether is a gem. The thing is, the MMI infotainment system looks good and works even better. The 7.0-inch central display comes as standard on any trim, but the touch-enabled controller and the fantastic 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument panel are optional.
A bit of software fine tuning and the new engine line-up for the A5 family is 22 percent more powerful, and 17 percent more fuel efficient. The 248 hp, 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) 2.0-liter turbocharged unit returns 38 mpg (6.2 l/100 km), a figure you’ll most probably see in the car makers’ statements rather on your instrument panel. Still, the S tronic automatic gearbox works impeccably with the engine, so a 30 mpg figure is easily achievable. If you’re after the fuel efficiency, the diesel offers are way more alluring, but you might end missing all the fun.
In the premium world, it’s the little things that’ll get you fork out a pile of money over the catalog price. The A5 — as any Audi, for that matter — options list will promise you almost everything the (rather unimpressive) standard package can’t, but it will also ask just a little extra. Our €43,000 248 hp 2.0-liter TFSI quattro, for example, passed the €70,000 mark after some further shopping. So you’d better know what you definitely need or want, or you’ll get pay for a “normal” A5 way more than for a more powerful, more fun S5. Worth paying for? The lumbar support feature, which will extend the time you keep a smile on your face while behind the wheel.
From the German big three, the €37,800 A5 Coupé takes the middle spot, between the bit more expensive BMW 4 Series Coupé, and the impressively accessible (€35,581) Mercedes C-Class Coupé. While the Merc offers all-wheel-drive only on the 300+ hp six-cylinder engines, the €48,990 A5 2.0 TFSI quattro comes as a spot-on alternative for the €49,450 BMW 430i xDrive Coupé. The Audi’s all-wheel-drive coupé package might not be as playful as the BMW’s, but it plays the mature, elegant card better that its rivals.