- Powerful engine
- Gorgeous styling
- All-wheel-drive traction
- Outstanding all-around performance
- Cramped back seat
- High price tag
- Small trunk opening
- Limited rearward visibility in coupe
The 2016 Audi S5 Coupe and S5 Cabriolet are among the best-looking (and best-performing) luxury coupes on the market.
The Audi A5 isn't just one car, it's a family of cars that includes hardtop Coupes and soft-top Cabriolets. High-output, hard-charging S5 and RS 5 versions of both body styles are on offer. At its core, the A5 family is a spin-off of the A4 sedan.
Long after it was introduced, the A5 remains a favorite of ours. It's a rare, practical two-door that's still pretty and still fuel-efficient, after almost a decade on the road.
If you're shopping an A5 now, you're somewhat late to the game. We get it, though. Few cars are as striking, understated and elegant all at once. The A5 revels in elegant surfaces and the barest details. It's just as slinky as a convertible as it is a coupe. Its gaping-maw-ish grille aside, the A5 has all the hallmarks of a classic.
Both A5s draw power from a turbo 2.0-liter inline-4 pumped up in recent years to 220 hp. All A5 models now include all-wheel drive. The A5 Cabriolet has little aspiration to high performance in its base version, with an 8-speed automatic and softly tuned suspension hardware. Coupes offer a choice of a 6-speed manual or the automatic, and both work well with the turbo-4's wide powerband.
The A5s are set up for on-road comfort; they're far from high-strung performance machines, though the related S5 cars veer in that direction. The A5's demeanor can get more enthusiastic with Drive Select. It's a mode-switching feature that changes steering, suspension, transmission and throttle tuning with programs for comfort and sport. Audi also offers a variable-ratio steering rack. For our money, the money's better spent on a sport suspension with better, more predictable road feel.
Two passengers will fit well in the A5's plushly padded front seats, and they'll find generous leg and shoulder space. The trunk has enough space (even in Cabriolets) for a weekend of luggage. The rear seat can seem a cruel joke for big adults; there's just not much space to get in, or to sit in. Small-item storage is ample, with a console and lockable glove box, bottle holders in the door, and fold-down rear-seat access from inside the car to the trunk.
Drivers will find difficulty with outward vision. The coupe's chunky roof pillars block some of the view to the back. The convertible's even worse when the top is up.
The convertible Cabriolet has a power folding top that lowers in about 20 seconds, and can be raised quickly at stoplights when rain descends. It eats into rear-seat and into storage space, but it's a good trade-off when those seats go mostly unoccupied.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA have crash-tested the A5. Each has the usual safety gear, with the addition of a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, and in the convertible, pop-up roll bars.
Audi fits every A5 with the usual power features, leather, Bluetooth, and satellite radio. A Bang & Olufsen sound system is an option; so are a USB port and navigation. Audi's MMI interface uses a controller knob for input; it's awkward but somehow better than similar systems from Benz and BMW, mostly because its stunning Google Earth maps are lush and informative at the same time.
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.
2016 Audi A5
The 2016 Audi A5 isn't daring, but it's beautifully sculpted and graceful.
Even toward the end of its first generation, the 2016 Audi A5 is still a very handsome luxury two-door. It offers understated, elegant styling and a cockpit to match.
With a timeless look that commands its $41,425 base price, the A5 has a purist appeal. Modern details mix in with light musclecar overtones to give the coupe and convertible real road presence. One angle can't be reconciled: the front view. Audi's too-tall grilles have overwhelmed its cars' front ends. At least here it's been thinned out a little, and it's now framed by slim LED lights.
The A5's cabin wastes no time on excess. It's simple and clean, filled with high-grade materials. Details are fine, from the instruments to the metallic trim on its various toggles and buttons. The businesslike tone gets a little busy, what with all its secondary controls, but the cockpit's well-honed look of leather and suede brings it all together.
2016 Audi A5
Skip the base front-wheel-drive model if you can; on the other hand the RS 5 has all the right sport and luxury to suit the looks.
The 2016 Audi A5 lineup provides solid performance from its four-cylinder engine and standard all-wheel drive, while the same shape can be had with a supercharged V-6 in the S5, or as a V-8-powered RS 5.
Audi makes a 2.0-liter turbo-4 standard on the A5. It's a good match for the light aspirations of this coupe and convertible. Not quite high-performance in intent, the inline-4 grunts out lots of power down low. Rated at 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, it's crisp with the throttle response, if a little buzzy near its rev peak.
Transmission choices depend on the body style, but all A5 coupes and convertibles now come with all-wheel drive as standard equipment. An 8-speed automatic is standard on Coupes, with an option of a 6-speed manual. The automatic has widely spaced gears that make better use of the available power, and the manual can feel a bit rubbery with its engagement. It's capable of 60-mph runs of 6.6 seconds, with manuals cutting 0.2 seconds off those times. All Cabriolets get the automatic.
With a few tweaks to the optional Drive Select system, the A5's steering and transmission can turn in quicker responses. But base A5s are set up the way most drivers will want, with relaxed handling and a fairly cushy ride. The A5 always feels composed, even on broken pavement. It corners with control and confidence, which improves with the available S line package's stiffer setup and firmer tires.
Audi does a good job tuning electric power steering. In the A5 the steering has good on-center feel, good enough that we'd pass on the optional Dynamic Steering with its variable-ratio function.
Audi also offers the S5 as a step up from the A5 models, with a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 rated at 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. At the top of the range is the RS 5, with its potent 4.2-liter V-8, good for 450 hp. Those cars come with their own sharper chassis tuning as well.
2016 Audi A5
Comfort & Quality
Trunk space is a little smaller in convertibles, but the A5 is still great for a weekend getaway for two.
The A5 cars are near-perfect weekend cruisers. With great space for two and some carry-ons, they're suited to the daily needs of most drivers, too. We wouldn't plan on chauffeuring three or four passengers on a regular basis, though.
For those in front, the A5 accommodates. Leg and head room are good, though some tall passengers will feel cramped by the optional panoramic sunroof. The stock front seats offer good support and padding for most drivers, though on more sporty versions the A5 doesn't trade off that comfort. Leather is standard, while the RS5's sport seats are trimmed in Nappa or Alcantara.
Behind the front passengers are two padded regions best described as occasional human storage. The two-door body doesn't make it easy for back-seat riders to get in or our of the car, and once they're tucked in back, the head and leg room offerings are slim. The Cabriolet's even more narrow thanks to the convertible top mechanism, meaning it's a place only for very small adults.
Trunk space is less a problem. Coupes have 16.3 cubic feet of space, while convertibles lose a few cubes, at 11.3 cubic feet. The rear-seat backs can be folded down to expand storage space.
Across the A5 and S5 lineup, Audi shows its talent for mixing and marrying materials. The leather, plastic, metal, and wood fit snugly together in attractive ways. The sport models adopt stainless steel or carbon fiber trim.
2016 Audi A5
The Audi A5 hasn't been crash-tested; but it's closely related to the A4 sedan.
Although no safety ratings are available for the A5, the closely related A4 does well in most tests, with five stars across the board from the NHTSA and top scores in all but the new small-overlap test from the IIHS, where it was rated ‘Poor.’
All body styles and models come with the usual safety standards. Convertibles don't get side-curtain airbags, for obvious reasons, but they do have pop-up roll protection. If a rollover accident occurs, two steel hoops spring out from behind the passengers to protect head space.
On most models, Audi makes its latest tech available, including lane-departure warnings, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control, even adaptive headlamps.
Throughout the A5 range, visibility is very good, though the convertible's soft top can limit rearward visibility somewhat. An available rearview camera and reverse parking sensors help improve low-speed safety.
2016 Audi A5
Audi keeps at the forefront with some above-and-beyond technology, like Google Earth mapping and in-car wi-fi.
The 2016 Audi A5 remains one of the best-equipped cars in its class, especially when you consider its excellent audio and mapping systems.
In base form, the A5 includes a solid feature set suiting its more than-$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, keyless ignition, 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.
A5 Cabriolets 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.
Optional extras for the A5 range include bi-xenon headlamps, a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, and a fantastic Bang & Olufsen audio system. Coupe models can also opt for a panoramic sunroof.
Navigation is also 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 such as Google Local search, real-time traffic and weather updates, and much more.
When Audi Connect and Google Earth mapping, the screen and maps are truly impressive. It's one of the most beautiful, high-resolution systems available.
Stepping up the range to the S5 and RS 5 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.
For the digitally concerned, Audi's excellent Multi-Media Interface (MMI) 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.
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. Convertible models are now available with a red acoustic, and any A5 can now be had with Misano Red pearl effect paint.
2016 Audi A5
Reasonably good fuel economy can be had even with top-performing models in the 2016 A5 lineup.
While Audi's S5 and RS 5 versions favor speed over efficiency, the base Audi A5 is one of the more fuel-efficient models in its class.
The A5's turbo 4-cylinder varies slightly in fuel economy with the choice of transmission and body style. The A5 coupe with quattro all-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual transmission is rated at 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, 26 combined.
Opting for the A5 Coupe with quattro all-wheel drive and the 8-speed automatic brings the ratings to 21/30/25 mpg. The A5 Cabriolet, only available with quattro all-wheel drive and the 8-speed, returns ratings of 21/29/24 mpg.