- Smoothly executed, from powertrain to power top
- Your choice of gearboxes in coupes
- Four seats for four adults
- Rear seat in convertibles is slight
- No manual for the convertible
- Trunk room isn't vast
The Audi A5 coupe and convertible are sleek and supple, providing relaxed yet sporty dynamics in a tidy package.
The Audi A5 lineup consists of coupe and Cabriolet versions, as well as high-performance S5 and RS 5 variants of both, and it uses many components shared with the Audi A4 sedans. The S5 and RS 5 are covered in a separate entry.
The A5 lineup 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.
Elegant and striking, the two-door A5 bears the stamp of Audi's recent vintage of cars, with careful attention to surfaces and a bare minimum of detail. It's equally handsome as a coupe or convertible, no mean feat, though the A5 Cabriolet's dash of decadence is undeniably a star turn. It only lapses at the front end, where the deep, open-jawed grille seems too large and abstract, especially this year, since designers have slimmed down the headlamps and subdued the frame of the grille.
The cabin strikes a coordinating chord, with soothing shapes and a high level of fit and finish, and new choices of trim ranging from carbon to stainless steel to good old-fashioned wood.
Both the A5 coupe and convertible are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that now delivers 220 horsepower. All A5 models now include standard quattro all-wheel drive. The A5 Cabriolet taps out of any performance intent in its most basic form, where it's fitted by default with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Coupes offer a choice of a 6-speed manual or the 8-speed automatic, either of which makes the most of the four's ample powerband.
The A5's handling and ride are dialed to comfort, though the optional Drive Select system allows owners to change steering, throttle, suspension, and transmission programming for a more responsive feel; Drive Select can be paired with variable-ratio Dynamic Steering as well. We'd pass on both, and opt instead for the sport suspension offered on coupe models for its predictable, slightly firm road feel.
The A5 is a car for a couple and their luggage to travel in, though one or two additional riders can fit in the rear. It's close-coupled but not cruel. The cabin is well laid out as well as finely built, and the controls are lighter than those of other German coupes. Leg room and shoulder room are generous, and the seats are well-padded and bolstered.
The rear seats, on the other hand, are too short in the legs for adults. From the driver's seat, visibility rearward is on the poor side due to the chunky C-pillars that look so good on the outside (the convertible avoids this criticism with the top down). Interior storage space is generally good, with a locking glove box and console, 1-liter bottle holders in the doors, and a larger-than-average trunk with fold-flat rear seats.
Of all the models, the A5 convertibles shine brightest. Their well-insulated tops can be dropped in a matter of seconds, and they'll rise quickly enough that you won't get drenched when you stop in a sudden shower. Sure, the cloth top blurs some of the coupe's crisp roofline—not to mention eating further into the rear seat space—but the sensation of sun in the face and (a little bit of) wind in the hair makes those quibbles fade into insignificance.
The A5 coupe and convertible haven't been crash-tested, but they do offer an extensive list of safety features. The list includes dual front, side, and side curtain airbags; knee airbags, traction and stability control; anti-lock brakes; active pop-up roll bars in the Cabriolet; and a rearview camera with parking sensors.
Luxury features are similarly exhaustive, with all of the usual luxury suspects on board, including all the power and heated accessories you can think of, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, satellite radio, and Bluetooth. Optional add-ons include the excellent Bang & Olufsen sound system, navigation, and iPhone integration. The latest-generation infotainment controller is also employed, making it easy to control audio, navigation, and other on-screen functions with its joystick-like controller. New Google Earth and Street View mapping provides some of the clearest, most beautiful renderings we've seen on a GPS.
Changes for the 2016 model year are limited to standard and optional equipment adjustments. The S line exterior package is now standard, and Audi connect is now part of the Navigation plus package. Premium Plus models come with a Bang & Olufsen sound system. Cabriolet models are now available with a red acoustic, and any A5 can now be had with Misano Red pearl effect paint.
The A5 ranges from 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, 26 combined in coupe version with a 6-speed manual to 21/29/24 mpg in convertible fashion with an 8-speed automatic.