2015 Audi A5 Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 4, 2015

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.

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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.

9

2015 Audi A5

Styling

The Audi A5's classy interior is overshadowed by a really beautiful body.

With elegant, understated styling and interior to match, the 2015 Audi A5 still is one of most handsome luxury coupes on the market today.

The A5 has a businesslike cockpit, warmed up with generous helpings of wood or aluminum, leather or suede. It's an understated delight, luxurious without appearing as if it's having too much fun. The trim comes from the high-priced bins, even the scratch-magnet piano black, and Audi draws thin metallic rings around the myriad black toggles and buttons. Good thing; otherwise they'd be identify at a glance.

The A5 has a timeless look that merits a base price near $40,000. The rear quarters have a muscular stance, the profile is athletic and lean. Where it all gets undercut is at the front, where Audi's huge grille proves a poor fit for a car with this graceful presence.

Audi lets loose of the leash with the S5. It wears aero add-ons and gets a cabin trimmed with brushed-metal accents. The RS 5 takes things even further with LED lighting, a mesh grille, a retracting rear spoiler, and a cabin washed over with carbon-fiber and Nappa leather.

8

2015 Audi A5

Performance

Base cars with the CVT are too tame for us, but the RS 5 spins all the right sport and luxury dials.

The 2015 Audi A5 lineup runs everywhere from zippy and efficient to all-out fast, depending on which model you'd like-and how much you can afford. In simplest terms, you can choose from the four-cylinder A5, the supercharged six-cylinder S5, or the V-8-powered RS5.

At the pinnacle of the lineup is the RS5. A potent, throaty V-8 displacing 4.2 liters kicks out 450 hp. The RS 5 can drop 0-60 mph times of 4.5 seconds, and hit the 174-mph tick on the speedo. It's on a lofty par with the M3 and C63. Stocking its hardware bin are a sport rear differential for side-to-side torque splits; 19-inch wheels; and Drive Select, which controls steering, throttle, and transmission modes (but not damping, since the RS 5 has a steel suspension, not adaptive shocks). Carbon-ceramic brakes can haul it down from those triple-digit speeds and make it track-worthy.

The middle rung in the lineup is taken up by the S5. It's powered by a 333-hp supercharged V-6 with 325 lb-ft of torque. Zero-to-60 mph times of 5.0 seconds are in reach, Audi says. The S5 gets a stiffer tune to its suspension and stouter brakes, as well as a lightning-fast 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive, summer tires and 18-inch wheels. On the S5's AWD system, Audi splits torque at a fixed 40:60 split, while the torque-vectoring sport rear differential improves traction across the rear end. The power steering is sharper than in the base cars, but it's still numb compared to the vivid drivetrain and the stiff, occasionally harsh ride.

A 2.0-liter turbo-4 comes with all A5 coupes and convertibles. Now rated at 220 hp, it's a good match for the compact A5, given its strong lower-end grunt and perky nature. It's not high performance, but its 258 lb-ft of torque give it great punch around town, and crisp throttle uptake is a part of that equation-as is some buzzy rasp at the top of the powerband.

Transmissions vary by model. Base front-drive convertibles have a CVT that's best avoided. All-wheel-drive convertible A5s come with an 8-speed automatic with quick and clean gearchanges. That transmission comes on the coupe, though there's also a choice for a 6-speed manual that shifts better than most VW Group manuals. The quickest of the different A5 cars hits 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. It's not the CVT Cabriolet; that takes 7.5 seconds.

With the A5, Audi tunes the suspension and drive systems for a relaxed, low-effort affair. Or, they leave it up to the driver when Drive Select is ordered. It's a selectable-mode system that adjusts shift patterns, throttle uptake, suspension stiffness, and steering speed and weight at the flick of a button. We'd pass on it in favor of an A5 with the available S line sport suspension, which doesn't tweak the ride too much.

8

2015 Audi A5

Comfort & Quality

A small trunk (on Cabriolets) doesn't diminish the A5's comfort for two passengers and some weekend luggage.

Riding in the front of the Audi A5 gives passengers the best insight into why the car's lasted so long on the market. Riding in the backseat reminds them of why Uber was invented.

The A5 family of two-doors works best when thought of as 2+2s. The front seats have all the room, the back seats very little of it.

No matter which A5 you're in, the materials and fit and finish are top-notch. Leather mates up to wood and aluminum and plastic in a masterful way. More expensive models like the RS 5 get stainless-steel trim and carbon-fiber add-ons.

The base front seats are a perfect example of not dumbing down price-conscious models. They're padded thickly, with just enough bolstering to make long-distance drives a no-brainer. In more sporty offerings, the bolsters get firmer and thicker, the seats more deeply pocketed for spirited driving. No matter which model, leather covers the seats, but RS 5 leather is of the Nappa variety, with sueded cloth trim.

In the front, leg and head room are ample for most builds, though the panoramic sunroof on the options list should be avoided by tall drivers.

The back seat doesn't deliver much more than it has to. Yes, there are sculpted spots on either side of the driveline tunnel. Are those spots made for medium-sized adults? Not so much. It's even more compromised in Cabriolets, which trim out more shoulder and trunk room to house the power-operated top.

At least the seat backs fold down, opening up more space from the A5's relatively large trunk. Treat it like a two-seater with lots of luggage room, and the A5 doesn't disappoint.

8

2015 Audi A5

Safety

It's part of the A4 family, but as of yet, the A5 hasn't been crash-tested.

High sticker prices and low sales volumes keep the agencies that evaluate safety from crash-testing the Audi A5 lineup, so the 2015 model hasn't been rated by NHTSA or the IIHS. However, a long list of standard and available safety equipment earns it high marks in our book.

All A5 cars have good forward vision, but to the rear it's more or less a disaster. Coupes have thick roof pillars, and convertibles even thicker convertible-roof panels. The optional rearview camera and parking sensors should be standard, given the car's price and mission and vision issues.

On the tech front the A5 can be fitted with blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and a lane-departure warning system.

10

2015 Audi A5

Features

Google Earth mapping and in-car wireless internet are new Audi hallmarks.

The 2015 Audi A5 moves into the new year without any major changes. It remains one the best-equipped cars in its class, especially when you consider its audio and mapping systems.

For the digitally concerned, Audi's excellent MMI (Multi-Media Interface) is standard on the A5 range, bringing with it a rotary controller and center-mounted display that gives access to audio, entertainment, and more. The MMI system requires a little time and trial to learn, but once you're familiar with it, MMI can be a quick and intuitive interface. Improvements to the control interface last year (including a few new hard-wired buttons near the control knob) have made MMI even easier to use.

The options we'd save up for include the Bang & Olufsen audio system and the glass roof on coupes.

Navigation is available on all models, bundled together with a rearview camera, HD Radio, a DVD player, and Google Earth maps with Street View when paired with Audi Connect, Audi's mobile data service. Audi Connect requires a monthly subscription for the 3G data, but enables features like Google Local search, real-time traffic and weather updates, and much more.

The screen, and the maps, when Audi Connect and Google Earth mapping are combined, are truly impressive. It's one of the most beautiful, high-resolution systems available.Â

In base form, the A5 includes a solid feature set suiting its near-$40,000 price point. Power locks, windows, and mirrors are standard, as is automatic climate control, a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/satellite radio audio system, pushbutton start with keyless entry, leather seating, power front seats, cruise control, and a sunroof (in coupe models). Optional extras for base cars include Bluetooth and iPod connectivity--an unusual choice for a modern, high-tech luxury car.

Cabriolet A5s get a standard power-folding soft top with glass rear window and electric defogger. The top opens and closes in less than 20 seconds, while the fabric construction saves considerable weight over a folding hard top.

Stepping up the range to the S5 and RS5 brings extra standard equipment, including heated front seats, 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, and an upgraded body kit on S5 Coupe and Cabriolet models. The RS5 Coupe and Cabriolet add to the list with a retractable rear spoiler, a choice of unique interior trims, sport seats, parking sensors, and a flat-bottomed steering with shift paddles.

7

2015 Audi A5

Fuel Economy

Even the A5 you really want to drive gets acceptable fuel economy.

While you can choose speed over fuel economy in the S5 and RS5 versions, the base Audi A5 is one of the most fuel-efficient models in its class. However, we don't get the diesel models Stateside.

Audi's S5 models get a great deal more horsepower than the base A5, thanks to a supercharged V-6 engine, but also suffer in terms of gas mileage, rating 18/28/21 mpg city/highway/combined with the dual-clutch automatic transmission, or 17/26/20 with the six-speed manual gearbox.Â

The RS5's 450-horsepower output requires even more fuel, bringing it down to 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined.

The base turbo four-cylinder in A5 models varies quite a bit with choice of transmission and front- or all-wheel drive. The front-drive Cabriolet earns the best gas mileage in the range, at 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. Next is the A5 coupe with quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission at 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined--nearly identical, but for the slightly lower combined rating.

Opting for either the A5 Cabriolet with quattro all-wheel drive or the A5 quattro Coupe, when equipped with the automatic transmission yields the same result: 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined.

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April 28, 2015
2015 Audi A5 2-Door Cabriolet Automatic quattro 2.0T Premium Plus

Glad we bought this car over others like BMW and Mercedes.

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The Audi A5 cabriolet feels like a safe and substantial car. Acceleration is fine for any travel requirement but definitely not to be confused with a performance car. The handling and ride are both excellent... + More »
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April 19, 2015
For 2015 Audi A5

Love my A5 Cab

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I located a CPO 2015 A5 Cabriolet with less than 2K miles and picked it up a few weeks ago. The car is Cuvee Silver with a Brown Top and Brown/Black interior. It looks and drives amazing...a significant... + More »
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April 17, 2015
For 2015 Audi A5

great car for an exciting driving experience.

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Fun car to drive. Great interior, excellent handling. Stunning body lines.
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8.6
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Styling 9.0
Performance 8.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 8.0
Features 10.0
Fuel Economy 7.0
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