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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
the new Audi is the start of something good
the A5 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in about 6 seconds
Though it’s short of the V-8 urge found in its high-performance S5 cousin, the 2008 Audi A5 entertains casual and enthusiast drivers with V-6 power and a choice of gearboxes, not to mention good handling.
A 265-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6 powers the 2008 Audi A5 with authority; its performance isn't especially responsive, but it's very smooth and refined and can push the A5 to 60 mph in about six seconds. The Washington Post describes the A5’s demeanor as "smooth, gentle, yet powerful." Edmunds says “the spirited V6 provides likewise eager response,” though ForbesAutos contends “the A5 doesn’t necessarily feel like a high-performance coupe.”
A six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission is offered; the engine actually works very well with the automatic, executing quick, decisive downshifts. The Washington Post applauds the "silky six-speed automatic transmission." Most reviewers tried the manual. Motor Trend reports that while the gearing of the six-speed transmission is "well matched" to the powerplant, the shifter is "somewhat clunky," with an unfortunate tendency to hang between first and third; it "generally felt a bit remote and disconnected from the mechanism it controls." Edmunds thinks “the manual transmission's shifter has somewhat long, but light-effort throws with firm engagement.” ForbesAutos observes the manual “felt imprecise moving the gears, especially compared to that of the BMW 3 Series.”
For all its power, the 2008 Audi A5 drinks up at a reasonable pace; it’s rated at 27 mpg highway, 18 mpg city. It does require more expensive, premium-grade gasoline, however.
Tuned more for ride quality than aggressive handling capability, the 2008 Audi A5 isn't especially exciting to drive, but steering is crisp and communicative, with a secure feel on the highway. Cars.com says, “Quattro all-wheel drive is standard; in normal conditions, it channels 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels.” Even with the added weight of AWD, ForbesAutos says, “When pushing the A5 through quick turns, it feels heavier and less agile than the BMW 3 Series. But there is little body roll and the A5 stays planted, yet the ride is never harsh.” ConsumerGuide notes "sharp bumps can register with a jolt," but acknowledges that it's comfortable enough for long road trips. An S-Line option package brings stiffer suspension settings and promises to make the A5 sprightlier in the curves.
Smooth V-6 power and relaxed all-wheel-drive handling are strengths of the 2008 Audi A5.