The 2019 Audi A5 is one of three vehicles: a sleek two-door coupe, a sharp five-door hatchback that’s more like a wagon, or a beautiful convertible. It offers a compliant and comfortable ride, balanced handling, and a strong engine with a nice exhaust note.
Redesigned in 2018, the A5 gets no significant changes for 2019.
The coupe and convertible technically seat four, but not easily. The Sportback can accommodate five people, having a wheelbase that’s 2.4 inches longer, all of which goes to rear legroom.
The A5 is built on the chassis and running gear of the A4 sedan and Q5 crossover. All-wheel drive is standard on all models. Coupes get a system which cuts power to the rear wheels when it isn’t needed, which improves fuel mileage.
The only engine in the A5 is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 248 horsepower, mated to a sharp 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Every A5 has Audi’s Drive Select system, with modes to stiffen or soften handling and/or engine and transmission response.
All models of the A5 are EPA-rated at 23 mpg city, 34 highway, and 27 combined, on premium fuel.
The NHTSA gives the A5 a five-star overall safety rating, with four stars for frontal crash safety; and the IIHSA gives the A5 its top “Good” scores in every crash test, although it hasn’t yet conducted the new passenger-side small-overlap crash test. It gave the A5’s standard front crash-prevention system a “Superior” rating, noting that the automatic emergency braking prevented contact at 12 mph, and slowed the car from 47 mph in the 25-mph crash test.
However, the A5’s standard headlights only rated “Marginal.”
The A5 comes as Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige, with the Premium starting at about $45,000. The Sportback costs the same as the Coupe, while the Cabriolet costs about $6,000 more.
The A5 Premium comes standard with leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, and ambient interior lighting, Audi’s MMI interface with a 7.0-inch display for infotainment including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and automatic emergency braking. Sportback models include a power liftgate.
Options include navigation, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, a digital instrument cluster, adaptive dampers, and 4G LTE data services with WiFi hotspot.
The A5 Premium Plus, at about $50,000, adds the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 8.3-inch infotainment screen as standard.
The A5 Prestige, at about $54,000, adds parking sensors, a head-up display, active safety features, and a 19-speaker premium sound system.
The A5 has become one of Audi’s most gracefully styled vehicles.
The coupe is elegant, understated and sleek, with muscular haunches and subtle humps on the fenders. The grille is low and wide without being overly aggressive.
The sumptuous lines of the Sportback are even more eye-catching, using the coupe’s roofline and windshield rake. Its roof looks even lower than it is, thanks to the lack of chrome around the windows.
The convertible’s beautiful soft top looks classic, and it’s able to lower at 31 mph in just seconds.
The A5 cabin is classy and subtle, with standard leather and high-quality trim in wood or metal, horizontal lines and optional state-of-the art technology, namely that 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that’s beautiful and functional.
The tech features are cohesive, not confusing. The rotary dial for MMI interface is easy to get used to, sweet buttons instead of a touchscreen. The MMI is fairly easy to use, but connecting an iPhone is more difficult without a touchscreen.
The front seats are very good, comfortable and spacious, with standard heating and power adjustment–10 directions in the sedan and 8 in the Sportback. Optional sport seats, for the Cabriolet and Sportback, have more bolstering.
The rear seat is another story. The coupe and convertible have just 32.7 inches of rear legroom. The Sportback takes its extra 2.4 inches of wheelbase and turns it into 2.4 more inches of rear legroom, so it’s more livable at 35.1 inches. It also offers 21.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, compared to the coupe’s 11.6 cubic feet in the trunk, and the convertible’s 9.3 cubic feet in the trunk with the top up and 7.2 cubic feet with the top down.
The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine makes a satisfying 248 horsepower, while offering sharp throttle response with no turbo lag, on its way to 60 miles per hour in 5.7 seconds–same for the coupe, convertible, and Sportback.
The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is the best in the business, with shifts that are smooth and quick.
The A5 is sporty and fun to drive. The redesigned 2018 platform moved the engine farther back in the chassis to improve the balance, and the precision of the handling was improved by cutting some weight by using aluminum components in the five-link rear suspension.
The steering is sharp and direct, the handling balanced, and the ride comfortable and composed. That’s in Normal mode. The A5’s Drive Select offers Normal, Comfort, Dynamic, and Individual (custom) modes for the for the steering, suspension, transmission, and throttle.
A sport package lowers the car by nearly one inch. It includes adjustable dampers, a sport rear differential, 19-inch wheels with wider and grippier tires, and red brake calipers.
Audi’s available driver-assistance suite takes control of the wheel to keep the vehicle centered in its lane, or works the throttle and brakes for you in stop-and-go traffic. It doesn’t overreact or misread the white lines, bouncing the car from left to right within the lane, like too many others.
The Audi A5 Sportback satisfies most drivers, in so many ways. It’s not cheap, but if it’s performance you want, it offers excellent value. The powertrain is flawless, the cabin is classy and high-tech without being gratuitously glitzy–and if you want it more basic, stick to the Premium model and save thousands. If you want a convertible, the Cabriolet is a beauty and the Coupe is sleek and lovely, though neither can pull everyday duty as well as the four-door.
by Sam Moses, with driving impressions from TheCarConnection