Audi A5 review
The Audi A5 is a stylish two-door coupe that's a rival to the likes of the new BMW 4 Series and Mercedes C-Class
The Audi A5 coupe is a stylish and relatively practical alternative to the BMW 4 Series and Mercedes C-Class Coupes. It's available in three body styles: Coupe, Cabriolet and Sportback (a sleek four-door hatchback). The car is based on the more practical Audi A4, meaning it gets all the tried-and-tested technology from that car as well as new stylish looks.
The A5 still looks fresh and modern, thanks to a mid-life facelift in 2012. There are plenty of engines to choose from, as well as SE, S line, Black edition and Ultra trim levels.
The A5 Ultra was introduced in 2014 and uses a new 161bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine, capable of returning economy and emissions of 67.3mpg and 109g/km, compared to 64.2mpg and 115g/km for the A5 TDIe model it replaces in the range.
For those more interested in extra performance than efficiency there's also the Audi S5 Coupe, S5 Cabriolet and S5 Sportback models. These use a 3.0-litre V6 with 328bhp. There's also the Audi RS5, which gets a 4.2-litre V8 engine and is the fastest in the range.
Our choice: Audi A5 2.0 TDI quattro S line
The sharp looks of the Audi A5 help it to stand out from the crowd (if not from the rest of the Audi range), with a crease running down the side of the car into the sleek headlights at the front. How good the car looks can vary a lot depending on the trim level you go for, however. The standard 17-inch wheels look a bit small but move up to the S line model and the bigger rims, lower suspension and bold bodykit help things along.
The Audi A5 Black Edition gets huge 19-inch wheels, matt black exterior detailing and tinted windows, too. Inside, piano black trim, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a Bang & Olufsen stereo mean it's a luxurious place to be. By comparison, the efficient Ultra model flies under the radar with 17-inch wheels as standard and only a discreet Ultra badge on the boot to mark it out.
The materials used are all top-notch and feel solid while the build quality is definitely up to the standards of the A5's premium rivals. Standard equipment from SE upwards includes climate control, leather seats, cruise control, an auto-opening boot, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a DAB radio.
The Audi A5 could never really compete with the old BMW 3 Series coupe when it came to driving enjoyment, and the arrival of the all-new BMW 4 Series means the gap between Audi and BMW in this class has opened up even further.
The Audi doesn’t feel as sharp or responsive as the BMW, and its steering feedback is more artificial. Thanks to the quattro four-wheel drive, however, there's loads of grip and it's still pretty fun to drive. Body control is excellent and even the basic front-wheel drive models are good to drive.
The best engine to go for to combine performance and economy is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel - it's strong, refined at idle and makes a pleasingly subdued hum higher in the revs. Even the tweaked 161bhp version in the A5 Ultra comes with no obvious eco-compromises. It's smooth throughout the rev range, pulls strongly from low revs and the ride and refinement is excellent at all times.
The dual-clutch S tronic auto transmission serves up fast shifts and decent manual control via steering wheel paddles, and the £375 Dynamic Steering and £520 Adaptive Damping and Drive Select system are also available - though neither really makes things hugely different.
The top-spec Black edition gets big 19-inch wheels and stiffer suspension, which means the ride is pretty firm and on country roads you’ll notice bumps and potholes send shudders through the steering wheel. Still, Audi offers softer suspension as a no-cost optional extra.
The Audi A5 came in at 65th in the Auto Express Driver Power 2013 customer satisfaction survey. Although Audi finished 10th out of 32 in the manufacturer rankings – five places ahead of arch rival BMW – it trailed behind Mercedes. It's a disappointing result, but the engines are tried and tested in many other VW Group cars and so should prove pretty reliable.
If you do encounter any reliability issues, Audi’s dealers weren’t rated especially highly – the network finished 23rd in the Driver Power countdown, falling between its rivals again.
The Audi A5 has not been crash tested, but the car it's based on, the Audi A4, was awarded the full five stars from Euro NCAP. Standard safety features on the coupe include front, passenger and curtain airbags. There’s also the option to add active safety kit like lane departure warning, blind spot warning and adaptive cruise control.
The Audi A5 coupe has a 455-litre boot, which is exactly the same size as the BMW 4 Series and five litres up on the Mercedes C-Class Coupe. You also get a space-saver spare wheel, which is stored below the boot floor. The standard folding rear seats mean total space can be increased to 829 litres.
The rear of the A5 doesn't feel massively spacious thanks to the sloping roofline, and in models with tinted windows it can feel a bit dingy in the back. Legroom isn't too bad, however, with a similar amount to the BMW 4 Series.
The driving position and the front seats are very comfortable and the premium interior means the Audi A5 is a relaxing car to drive. The electric handbrake frees up space for stowage but its grabby operation won’t be to all tastes.
The range-topping A5 quattro Black Edition with the S tronic gearbox sits in the 22 per cent Benefit in Kind tax bracket, but the manual front-wheel-drive SE, which emits 120g/km, cuts bills to lower than the equivalent BMW or Mercedes. Go for the new Ultra model for the best mix of power and efficiency - it will cover 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds, but manages a claimed 67.3mpg and 109g/km, which is significantly lower than the cleanest BMW 4 Series.
Audi offers fixed-price servicing, but it’s not as cheap as BMW’s five-year/60,000-mile package. The A5's variable service intervals mean a check-up is needed every 9,000 to 19,000 miles, depending on how the car is driven. There’s also the option to extend the standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty to four years and 75,000 miles for £535.
With residual values of 47 per cent, the total cost of ownership looks like it could be pretty good. Over three years, however, you’re likely to lose just under £20,000 in depreciation – nearly £5,000 more than the 420d, for example. On the plus side, cheaper A5s won’t depreciate as heavily, and residuals are better than for the Mercedes.