The fashionably elegant Audi A5 coupe and convertible have been freshened for the 2017 model year. For 2017, Audi A5 Sports come with S line enlarged intakes and rear spoiler and a new flat-bottomed steering wheel with paddle shifters.
Introduced for 2008, the A5 Sport coupe and A5 Cabriolet convertible are built upon the foundation of the prior-generation A4 sedan. All-new versions are on the horizon.
These sleek Audis rank among the best-looking two-door automobiles manufactured in this century. The coupe is the purest design, with its crisp roofline. Inside, the cars are beautifully designed and detailed.
Underway, the A5 delivers an easygoing, yet sporty, driving experience. It responds briskly and accelerates rapidly, courtesy of its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which develops 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Coupes can have either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission, but the Cabriolet is automatic-only.
All A5 models have Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive.
The high-performance Audi S5, powered by a supercharged V6 that generates 333 horsepower, comes in both body styles.
Drive Select can alter the A5’s steering, throttle operation, suspension, and transmission programming, to yield a more responsive feel. The Drive Select system can couple with variable-ratio Dynamic Steering. We’d skip both, instead choosing the sport suspension, which adds some confidence to handling, yet makes the ride only slightly firmer.
Convertible tops on the Cabriolets are particularly well-designed. The weather-insulated cloth tops can lower in less than 20 seconds. Breezy top-down motoring follows. Convertibles are fitted with active pop-up roll bars and larger side airbags.
The current A5 has not been crash-tested by either major safety agency. Though some active-safety features are absent, Audi offers optional lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and adaptive headlights. Navigation is optional, coupled in the Technology package with a rearview camera, lane-change assist, and Google Earth mapping.
Coupes have a panoramic sunroof, which cuts into headroom. The latest-generation infotainment controller improves control of audio, navigation, and other on-screen functions.
The 2017 Audi A5 Sport Coupe comes with turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and manual ($41,200) or automatic ($42,200) transmission, leather seating, flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters, tri-zone automatic climate control, Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker audio, satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone, keyless ignition, power front seats, cruise control, and a panoramic sunroof. A new Convenience package adds heated front seats with driver’s memory, Audi advanced key, and auto-dimming outside mirrors. A Black optic package includes 19-inch 10-spoke-Y design black wheels.
A5 Cabriolet ($48,600) has a power-folding fabric top.
Audi S5 Coupe features a 333-horsepower supercharged V6 engine and manual ($53,100) or automatic ($54,100); S5 Cabriolet ($61,100) can drop the top.
Unlike some of today’s more flamboyant models, the A5 is subtle, with minimal detailing. The result is elegant as well as understated, equally handsome, whether in coupe or Cabriolet form. As is often the case with soft-tops, the Cabriolet exudes a tempting hint of decadence, which can intensify its visceral appeal.
The only sore spot is found up front, supplied by a deep, open-jawed grille that seems too big for the car. That’s even more true since designers have slimmed down the headlights and moderated the grille’s frame.
Despite periodic imitations, the A5’s profile is still unique. Reminiscent of classic sports cars, its muscularity blends with contemporary details that convey an explicit road presence. LED lighting helps make the A5 recognizable.
A lushly shaped body deserves a complementary interior. Understated yet curvaceous, even lavish, the A5 cabin excels on that score, shunning current trends that insist on brightwork. Shapes appear soothing, while trim choices stretch from carbon to wood to stainless steel, each element rating high in fit and finish. Combinations of leather, metal, wood, and plastic are expertly crafted.
Audi’s midsize two-doors are intended for five passengers. As a practical matter, the A5 works best for a couple and appropriate luggage, but an additional passenger or two can squeeze into the coupe’s back seat. Space is tighter in Cabriolets. Seat contouring is better in coupes, whereas convertibles make do with flatter, smaller back seats. In either body style, getting in and out of rear seats can be challenging, even though doors are long.
Up front, legroom and shoulder clearance are generous. Front seats are nicely cushioned and suitably bolstered. Trunk room is satisfactory on coupes, with 16.3 cubic feet of cargo volume, but reduced to 11.3 cubic feet for convertibles.
Intricately detailed instruments help to add a luxury touch. Though it takes a while to learn, Audi’s excellent Multi-Media Interface (MMI) uses a rotary controller and central display.
The A5 delivers a splendid balance of poise and power, along with welcome comfort. Though not a high-performance car, nothing is lacking because the strong torque of the A5’s turbo-four engine delivers more vigor than expected, responding crisply to the accelerator pedal.
Quiet and smooth most of the time, the engine gets buzzy at high velocities but on par with other luxury-brand powertrains. Not only does the 8-speed automatic deliver quick shifts, it provides strong bursts of energy for passing. Acceleration to 60 mph is achieved in 6.6 seconds.
Comfort, rather than performance, is the primary goal in A5 ride and handling. Steering responds well, and the base suspension is suitably capable. Ride quality is sufficiently responsive and well-composed, without evident harshness. For sharper handling, albeit a bit more ride stiffness, a sports suspension package is available.
Visibility is unobstructed in the coupe, but the Cabriolet’s soft top can restrict the rearward view. Adding the available rearview camera, as well as reverse parking sensors, should ease low-speed maneuverability.
Each A5 is surprisingly fuel-efficient for its class. The manual-shift coupe is EPA-rated at 22/32 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined. Automatic drops the estimate to 21/30 mpg City/Highway. The Cabriolet, which comes only with automatic, is EPA-rated at 21/29 mpg City/Highway.
The Audi A5 coupe and cabriolet are beautifully designed and comparatively affordable. The cabins should be a benchmark for interior ambience, and they come loaded with the latest technology. Second-generation A5 models were shown in Germany in mid-2016, and are likely to reach the U.S. for the 2018 model year.
Driving impressions by Bengt Halvorson, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.