Against the competition: The A5 really needed this redesign, and improvements in performance, technology and luxury put it among the class leaders.
The Audi A5 Coupe has been redesigned for 2018, and it’s similar to the previous generation, but don’t let that fool you – the A5 has been improved in many aspects and better than ever.
The two-door Audi A5 shares a lot of mechanical similarities with the A4 four-door sedan, which was restyled in 2017 and recently took the crown in the Luxury Sports Sedan Challenge. This was a huge leap for the A4, which finished fifth out of six riders in the previous challenge in 2013. The A5 had to wait an extra year to be redesigned, but the changes mimic what has been done to the A4, and this is an excellent place to start. Compare the 2018 A5 with last year’s model here.
The A5 Coupe competes with other compact luxury coupes, such as the BMW 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, Infiniti Q60 and A5 Sportback. Compare the A5 to these cars here.
The Audi A5 comes equipped with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is a mainstay in the Audi lineup. It produces 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, and is mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic transmission. My test car came with an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, which is standard on all A5s.
I’m a huge fan of this motor, which weighs more than on the spec sheet and is very responsive. I even loved it in the Q7’s big three-row SUV, so it’s more in this app than it does the trick. The coupe is very responsive to acceleration inputs, especially in dynamic mode, and accelerates quickly at all speeds.
My test car was also equipped with adaptive suspension, which is a $1,000 standalone option. Adaptive suspensions are among the components I wish were more prevalent, especially in performance-focused cars. The adaptive suspension allows the car to have a dual nature: comfortable when desired and more stable for sporting moments. The A5 isn’t an external performance machine like the S5, so presenting it with a setup that allows for better cruising makes a lot of sense. Our Chicago editors cautioned that they drove the A5 with the optional sport suspension, which is non-adaptive, and was very stable for cornered roads.
If the A5 Coupe falls short in one area, it feels steered. Even moving the A5 into dynamic mode — which also increases throttle sensitivity and stiffens the suspension — doesn’t remedy that. It adds more weight to the steering, which is great when traveling straight, as it helps keep the car going straight with less effort, but there’s still some separation between the driver and the wheels.
The fuel economy numbers for the new Audi A5 are EPA estimates of 24/34/27 mpg city/highway/combined for the hardtop coupe. The guide loses 1 mpg on the highway. Excellent gasoline required.
Does it come with instructions?
The interior of the new Audi A5 is also in keeping with the best parts of the A4: high-quality materials, excellent fit and finish, and a great focus on technology. The fairly comprehensive Prestige package ($7,600) adds heated leather front seats, LED headlights, an upgraded audio system, a head-up display, 360-degree cameras, a navigation system, and the Audi Virtual Cockpit, a large color screen that serves as a dashboard (separate from the screen in the middle of the screen).
There is a lot of technology in the Audi A5 (especially with the Prestige package), but it can be cumbersome to use in some cases. For example, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard, which is a good thing. But the A5’s display (as on many Audi models) is mounted on top of the dashboard and out of reach, and it’s not even a touchscreen. So to use these systems, which are clearly designed for touch screens, you have to turn to the multifunctional turntable console. As with many A5 technology features, the functionality is there, but accessing them can be a chore.
The Virtual Cockpit replaces the dashboard with a highly customizable 12.3-inch display: the tachometer and speedometer can be retracted to open a larger viewing area showing things like the status of the vehicle or your choice of map or Google Earth views. Interestingly, if Android Auto is activated, the Google Earth view and map navigation view will be disabled and you’ll only see a large, relatively useless compass in the virtual cockpit.
In the end, none of these quirks were deal-breakers for me; The system is fast and responsive to inputs, which reduces the inconvenience of having multi-layered menus. Other tech additions are welcome additions and the inclusion of a 360-degree camera system (even in a smaller car like this) is always welcome.
How is the space?
If there’s a weakness in the Audi A5’s interior, it’s the back seat room. The car’s low proportions make it a lot of pressure to get back there, and while there’s enough room to navigate legroom issues if both passengers cooperate, the biggest issue is headroom. The ceiling was fed to the rear window exactly where my head (5ft 11″) sat, which impeded the height. I had to slouch a little to feel comfortable and not worry about the top of my head removing the glass if we hit an unexpected bump.
Trunk volume is 11.6 cubic feet, just under the 13.0 cubic feet in the A4 sedan. While the charging area is not very long, it is he is Deep, so it swallows baggage well. Dropping two sections of the 40/20/40 split rear seat also allowed me to mount three golf bags in the aft, which fit nicely with the number of passengers I could still fit inside.
Safety and driver assistance
My test car came with a driver assistance package ($1,800) that added adaptive cruise control (which works until stopped), lane-keep assist, high-beam assist, blind-spot detection, and traffic sign recognition. Audi systems operate as advertised. Lane-Keeping Assist works subtly in most conditions, keeping the vehicle centered in its lane, not just correcting after swerving.
However, there was one feature I wasn’t prepared for: Adaptive cruise control works with traffic sign recognition to turn on a feature Audi calls for predictive control. When activated, the system changes the speed of the adaptive cruise control when it detects a change in the speed limit. So if you’re traveling at 65mph and you pass a signal that drops the speed limit to 45mph, the system will adjust accordingly. There are ups and downs to this system, which I detail here, but I’ll leave them down the vast majority of the time; Speed management is something I still like to do myself at this point.
Pricing for the 2018 Audi A5 starts at $43,775 including destination, but my test car stuck with options to raise the tested price to $55,300. Extras included two big packages of mentioned options (the Prestige Package and Driver Assistance Package), as well as Glacier White Metallic paint ($575), adaptive suspension ($1,000), dark brown walnut interior trims ($350) and a heated steering wheel ($200) dollar).
There are many times when these luxury cars with plenty of options don’t feel as though they fit their hefty price tags, but the Audi A5 was the opposite for me. The interior materials are up to snuff, the performance is impressive and the technology is plentiful. The only call suspension would be to favor the additional benefit of the Audi A4: more space for passengers and cargo, with similar performance. Either way, you’ll end up with a winner.