- Smoothly executed, from powertrain to power top
- Your choice of gearboxes
- Four seats for four adults
- Handsomely drawn and detailed
- Performance by alphabet: A, S, R
- Rear seat in convertibles is slight
- CVT? No, thanks
- Trunk room isn't vast
The Audi A5 coupe and convertible are sleek and supple, but make the most sense in their S and RS guises.
The Audi A5 lineup consists of Coupe and Cabriolet versions, as well as high-performance S5 variants, and it uses many components shared with the Audi A4 sedans.
The A5 includes some of the best looking and most practical two-door cars built so far in the 21st century. While its form and design cues are often imitated, it's easy to understand why. It remains a striking piece of modern car design, hinting at muscular performance without blaring it from the rooftops. The big grille is a big miss, but otherwise it's a subtle machine. The cockpit falls right in lockstep, with tiny toggles and switches outlined in metallic trim and organized in the way you'd expect, and muted by swaths of leather and wood and aluminum
The A5 is Audi's boulevard cruiser. Both the hardtop and the convertible get power from a 220-hp turbo-4. Cabriolets come in a lease-ready model with front-wheel drive and a CVT, a combination we'd avoid.
All other models come with all-wheel drive; coupes offer a choice of a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic, while AWD convertibles only get the automatic. In these editions the A5 is lively enough to earn its base price of more than $40,000, and fuel economy is a pleasant surprise. Both the manual and automatic transmissions pair nicely with the strong low-end torque of the turbo-4.
That said, we'd still make a beeline for the S5 coupe and convertible. A supercharged V-6 with 333 hp sits under their hoods, coupled to a 7-speed dual-clutch or a 6-speed manual. Then there's the RS 5, the sole car in this family to hang on to its hot, ripe 450-hp V-8.
From the base model on up, the A5 has blessedly simple road manners, so long as you can avoid Drive Select. It's a toggle switch that remaps the programming for the car's throttle uptake, shift patterns, and steering response, and we think Audi's stock setup does a better job that the confusing multi-mode selector. We would pay up for the optional sport suspension on the A5 coupe, which delivers crisper steering feel without much of a step back in ride quality.
Think of the A5 as a two-seater with a sunroom and you'll appreciate for what it does best. Front-seat passengers get comfortable and well-padded seats in the A5, while S5 and RS 5 buckets plump themselves up with lots of extra bolsters. There's ample shoulder and leg room, though headroom is slighted in Coupes by the available sunroof. The back seats aren't really seats if you're more than five feet tall; they're worse on convertibles, where the fold-away top takes up some of the space formerly allocated to people. The rear seatbacks fold down to make the relatively big trunk even more useful.
No crash-test data has been published, but the A5 family gets rear parking sensors and a rearview camera, while Cabrio convertibles have pop-up roll protection.
All A5s get standard power locks, mirrors, and windows; leather; Bluetooth; and satellite radio. Cabriolets have a thickly lined power-folding top. Navigation is an option, as is USB/iPod integration and a swell B&O sound system. Audi's infotainment system might not be a lot simpler to use than those on its rivals, but it does offer Google Earth maps that look good enough to follow anywhere.