2012 Audi A5 Performance

7.0
Performance

All A5 models sport a 2.0-liter turbo-4, even the Cabrio with all-wheel drive.

The powerplant's 211 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque are a favorite of editors, since the torque curve hits a peak at the lower reach of its powerband, and pulls evenly to the 6000-rpm range and is quick to respond to the throttle, even if it sounds coarse at times.

You'll do just fine skipping the Drive Select and the Cabrio's CVT; otherwise, the 2012 Audi A5 delivers excellent powertrain performance and graceful dynamics.

Whether you pick the 6-speed manual or the 8-speed automatic, you can't go wrong. In the A5 Coupe, the turbo four pairs up with a new eight-speed automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive, and together they give the A5 lineup very quick acceleration. The turbo works well with the 8-speed auto, executing quick, decisive downshifts. Audi promises it'll dash to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. Opt for the 6-speed manual gearbox in the quattro A5 Coupe, and you'll shave another two-tenths off those figures, at 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds.

The base Cabriolet instead comes with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission, which uses pulleys and a belt for a slightly more efficient means of connecting engine power to the wheels. The CVT has a rubbery, drawn-out feel as it changes ratios, and this is the least satisfying powertrain in the A5 lineup; it's also the slowest to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, so shop wisely. You can get the true automatic transmission in the Cabriolet, and that cuts the 0-60 time to 7.2 seconds.

Audi also makes Drive Select available here. We'd skip it. Drive Select lets drivers adjust suspension feel, steering feel, and throttle response. Just as it does in the A4, Drive Select doesn't offer the right combination of ride and handling to suit its character.

The A5's strong performance pairs well with its taut ride and handling, although both of these models are tuned for serene driving, not taut manners. Our biggest beef is somewhat slow and vague steering response, yet almost delicate in feel. But the suspension is up to the task, allowing you to maintain composure over choppy surfaces.

The A5 is also available with an S-line package that delivers better handling through stiffer suspension settings.

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