2017 Audi A5

Consumer Reviews
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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
May 31, 2017

Buying tip

The Audi A5 Convertible is a surprisingly practical way to get top-down thrills in something that's also year-round drivable.

features & specs

2.0 TFSI Sport
2.0 TFSI Sport Manual
2.0 TFSI Sport Tiptronic
MPG
21 city / 29 hwy
MPG
23 city / 32 hwy
MPG
21 city / 30 hwy
MSRP
$48,600
MSRP
$41,200
MSRP
$42,200

The Audi A5 coupe and convertible are sleek and supple, providing relaxed yet sporty dynamics in a tidy package.

There's an entirely new family of Audi A5 models on the way next year, for the 2018 model year. And while that means the 2017 Audi A5 lineup has lame-duck status, we certainly wouldn't discourage you from this year's model.

The current A5 (and S5) lineup is one of Audi's best-designed, best-conceived affordable luxury coupes ever-a car with styling that's been widely imitated and a cabin layout and overall ambience that's considered a benchmark by designers.

Although they're looking and feeling a little long in the tooth, these models earn a solid 7.4 out of 10 in our new ratings system. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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The entire Audi A5 lineup of convertible (Cabriolet) and coupe models carries over to 2017 with zero changes. The convertible and coupe carry over in base and fast S5 and RS 5 models. All are built on the underpinnings of the previous-generation (pre-2017) A4. We review the sporty S5 and high-performance RS 5 separately.

It's clear why the A5 is imitated often. It's practical but still one of the best-looking 2-doors on the road. Audi designers clearly paid lots of attention to scraping away excess and surfacing the car's sheet metal. The big grille is a big lapse in judgement, but the A5 and S5 are the rare cars that look equally slinky in coupe and convertible form. The cockpit falls right in line, with beautiful fit and finish, and choices ranging from wood trim to steel to carbon-fiber.

In convertible or coupe form, the A5 moves quickly and responsively enough with its 2.0-liter turbo-4. It builds 220 hp. Coupes offer a choice of an 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual. Either extracts plenty from the inline-4's ample powerband; although if you want a convertible, it's automatic-only. All A5s have standard all-wheel drive.

Drive Select is an option. It lets owners change throttle, suspension, steering and transmission settings for more responsiveness. The system can be paired with variable-ratio steering. Skip 'em both and tick the box for the sport-suspension package that delivers somewhat more confident handling and a slightly firmer ride.

The A5 does its highest duty when delivering two passengers and their stuff on a long weekend trip, or when it's pressed into daily commuting. In front, the passengers get generous leg and shoulder room, and sit on well-bolstered and comfortably padded seats. Two more passengers would have to sit in that small back seat, which gets even smaller in Cabriolet models. The A5's cabin has clearly laid-out controls, and some very well-coordinated trim and colors.

Cabriolets are especially well designed, with weather-insulated tops that lowers quickly. The cloth top does blur some of the crisp roofline, but getting just the right amount (and no more) of wind in hair will convince many that it's worth the sacrifice.

No crash tests have been performed on the A5, but its airbags and stability control are joined by a standard rearview camera, rear parking sensors, and on the Cabrio, pop-up roll bars which deploy in case of a rollover.

Audi fits a laundry list of features in the A5, everything from power features to leather to Bluetooth and satellite radio. Options include USB connectivity, navigation, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. Audi's infotainment system runs the audio and navigation from a joystick controller. Its Google Earth maps have some of the most beautifully rendered directions we've seen.

8

2017 Audi A5

Styling

The 2017 Audi A5 remains graceful and handsome—although it's hardly daring.

The 2017 Audi A5 lineup is no longer fresh-faced; yet it's one of the most attractive (and often imitated) designs on the market—offering a look that's handsome, elegant, and understated, with an interior that truly matches the exterior.

It's easy to see why we rank the A5 as an 8 out of 10, as this look has aged gracefully. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Even though there are a lot of imitations that have, ahem, borrowed some of the sheet metal and trim details of the A5 over the years (we've heard a number of automakers say it was a design target), the A5's profile remains distinctive. We see classic muscle-car haunches blended with modern details. It all adds up to presence, whether it's a base A5 or a fang-baring S5 or RS 5. At a distance it transforms has the stance of a larger coupe.

LED lighting gives the A5 a recognizable face. Still, if we could point to a single place where the A5 is a little less remarkable in its design, it's at its front end.

Inside, the A5 feels curvaceous yet understated, and it looks super-classy while bucking all the trends toward adding brightwork, chrome and other shiny things throughout the cabin. The feel is lavish, with simple themes executed in pricey leather and wood and low-gloss plastic. Intricate instruments and thin rings of metallic trim on buttons and switches give the cabin a high-end look, while the A5's cabin has its mood set with two-tone leather and suede seats.

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8

2017 Audi A5

Performance

Base 2017 A5 models have an impressive balance of performance and poise, without sacrificing comfort.

The 2017 Audi A5 isn't lacking anything, performance-wise; just don't expect base models to be true performance cars.

That said, across the A5 lineup, there's solid performance from its standard 220-horsepower turbocharged inline-4 and standard all-wheel drive. In the S5 you step up to a supercharged V-6, while the top-of-the-line RS 5 gets a V-8.

Overall, the lineup scores an 8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Thanks to its 258 lb-ft of torque, the base engine is stronger than you might expect, with crisp throttle response. It can be a little gritty and buzzy near its top end, although it's generally smooth and quiet and compares well to other luxury-brand engines in its class.

All-wheel drive is standard across the model line, although if you want a manual transmission you'll need to opt for the Coupe. There, you have a choice of an 8-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual. Both powertrains suit the A5, though the 8-speed automatic's wider gear spread does offer good passing bursts; it's also a particularly quick-shifting automatic. Audi pegs 0-60 mph at 6.6 seconds with automatic-equipped cars. The manual cuts that to 6.4 seconds.

Ride and handling in the A5 take a bias in the direction of comfort instead of performance. That's true for base cars, but when Drive Select is chosen, it lets the driver tune steering, suspension, transmission, and throttle settings. It's really not needed on the base cars; Audi's stock setup does a better job at running the field operations for the steering and shocks.

Steering response is good in the A5, and its base suspension setup is quite capable, though it's tuned for comfort, not speed. Its ride is well-composed and responsive enough without feeling harsh; opt for the S line package for something a bit stiffer and somewhat sharper-handling. The optional Dynamic Steering system tweaks the responsiveness after it judges vehicle speed and steering input. We still think the base setup hits such a sweet spot that unless you're a serious performance enthusiast you'll be happy with what this car provides even at the entry level.

For those finer performance tastes, the S5 is a step up to a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. And on the RS 5 there's a throaty, potent 450-hp 4.2-liter V-8.

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6

2017 Audi A5

Comfort & Quality

The A5 is a great for a weekend getaway for two; although keep in mind that you sacrifice both back-seat and cargo space in the convertible.

From a packaging and comfort standpoint—and really in every respect—the 2017 Audi A5 is one of the best affordable luxury coupes on the market for a weekend getaway.

The A5 is comfortable up front and has plenty of trunk space, which we like, but we can't imagine asking four to ride in it for long. It earns a 6 out of 10 on our comfort rating. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The A5 offers space space for 2 passengers and some baggage, but not much more. What makes it a great pick is that it's well-suited for the daily grind and for weekend fun. Order one of the S5 cars, and the seats get thicker bolsters, and an upgrade from leather to Nappa hides or Alcantara sueded trim.

Headroom in the coupe gets cut by the panoramic sunroof, and tall drivers will notice. Skip it if you can.

The back-seat space varies between coupe and convertible models. Coupes have better seat contouring and just enough space for two adults, while convertibles have flatter, smaller seats, and a little less space. With either body style, the A5's long doors make entry and exit tough, especially for those in the back seat.

A5 Coupes have a 16.3-cubic-foot trunk, fairly large for any two-door and for some sedans, even. Cabriolets get that space cut down to 11.3 cubic feet, with space taken out for top storage. In both models, the rear seatbacks can fold down, which creates longer storage space.

Audi does right by the A5's interior. The cockpit gleams with metallic trim, wood, and leather, all of it exceedingly well-coordinated. On RS 5 models, carbon-fiber and stainless-steel trim add a tougher edge.

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2017 Audi A5

Safety

The 2017 A5 has a decent safety set, but it hasn't been crash-tested by either of the U.S. agencies.

The 2017 Audi A5 lineup hasn't been crash-tested by either of the U.S. agencies; and although it has a reasonably impressive set of safety features, it's lacking some of the latest accident-avoidance active-safety features.

We can't assign the A5 a score without full crash test information, however. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

But the fundamentals are here. Outward vision is very good in coupes, compromised with the top up in Cabrios. Rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are options, and they improve low-speed driving safety.

For those with a taste for higher-tech safety enhancements, Audi offers a lane-departure warning system, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control as well as adaptive headlamps. What's missing here is the automatic-braking technology that some more recently updated luxury coupes offer.

Every A5/S5/RS5 comes standard with dual front and side airbags, traction and stability control, and anti-lock brakes. Cabriolet models miss out on the otherwise-standard side curtain airbags due to its topless construction, but the convertibles do gain larger side airbags and pop-up rollbars that deploy when sensors determine a rollover is imminent.

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8

2017 Audi A5

Features

The cabin of the A5 brims with above-and-beyond technology.

The 2017 Audi A5 is one of the best-equipped luxury coupes in its price class—especially when you consider its superb infotainment and mapping systems.

There's not much lacking here, which earns the A5 an 8—although the next-generation A5 really ups its game. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

At the base level, the A5 includes a solid feature set, with standard power locks, windows, and mirrors, plus 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). Throughout this generation of the A5 we've been puzzled at how Bluetooth connectivity (and even iPod/media connectivity) is optional; it feels like an odd omission (or a nickel-and-dime game) for a high-tech luxury coupe.

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.

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; although beware the sacrifice in headroom.

A5 Cabriolet models 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.

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.

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.

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2017 Audi A5

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is great with A5 models, and still quite good for the S5.

The 2017 Audi A5 coupe and Cabriolet are surprisingly fuel-efficient for this class—although you won't find anything exceptionally frugal here, like a hybrid system, or technology like engine stop-start or cylinder deactivation.

It's a 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Move to the S5 and it's decent, although the RS 5 version is definitely oriented toward delivering peak performance at a major cost to fuel economy.

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 mpg city, 30 highway. The A5 Cabriolet, only available with quattro all-wheel drive and the 8-speed, returns ratings of 21/29 mpg.

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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 7
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