What we have here is a high-styled, very attractive, German luxury sport coupe for forty-two thousand dollars. That isn't exactly cheap, and our tester had no navigation system or rearview camera, but this is still a great car for the money, one with notable street presence and sex appeal. It drives well, too, with good body control, well-weighted steering, and a smooth gearshift that helps you make the most of the modest but refined turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Heck, I celebrate this car simply because it has a six-speed manual rather than relying solely on some paddle-shifted version of an automatic. The A5 coupe is a logical step into the world of big-boy cars for someone who is ready to move beyond, say, a Volkswagen GTI. I'd sure be happy to see one in my garage every morning.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
This particular Audi A5 is the quintessential Audi. It uses a relatively small displacement engine with direct injection and a turbocharger to provide more than adequate power with excellent fuel economy, sends power to all four wheels, and looks incredible. The package is luxurious without being ostentatious and the car performs very well when the driver does his part. Perhaps this is as close as we can get to having the best of all worlds now that conspicuous consumption is frowned upon and even the most successful people are supposed to show restraint.
I can't fault anyone for choosing the sublime rear-drive BMW 335i coupe over an A5 if they intent to spend more time attacking a track than favorite back roads, but the A5 comes across as a much better real world car than BMW's coupe. As Joe DeMatio said, the A5 is a logical upgrade for the GTI owner who is looking for something a little more comfortable and luxurious but doesn't want to give up the infinitely upgradeable VW/Audi 2.0T engine's versatility. Add Audi's legendary interior treatment to the equation and the A5 really shines. I would be happy to drive this car every day.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
At a stoplight the man in the next car rolled down his window and called over "Nice car." He, too, was driving a black-on-black Audi A5 coupe. There is a reason why Walter de'Silva named the A5 as the most beautiful car he had ever designed -- it is striking, especially in brilliant black paint. The creases are like that of a finely tailored suit; the fierce LED running lights and gaping single-frame grille turn heads wherever the A5 goes. Suave and debonair, the A5 can't be ignored.
Its silky smooth manners continue with the powertrain, which features a slick-shifting six-speed manual and refined turbo four. The 2.0T has enough low-end grunt to sprint around town -- one of the reasons we have previously loved this engine in its GTI application -- and plenty of power at highway speeds. The manner at which the A5 hunkers down at higher velocities shows that it was made for the German Autobahn -- it's extremely stable, and the direct steering and linear brakes give the driver confident control.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
It's hard to believe that the svelte Audi A5 is approaching its fifth model year. Still, the styling of the coupe looks as fresh today as it did at its introduction for the 2008 model year, where its highly acclaimed styling set a bar that, arguably, still stands today. (The A5 is face-lifted for the 2012 model year, but changes are incremental.)
The A5 isn't all about its looks, though. Even with the base powerplant -- the 211-hp 2.0-liter turbo four -- the A5 is no slouch. This is the same engine that powers the Volkswagen GTI, but in the A5 it feels less vigorous and more refined. Kudos to VW/Audi for building such a versatile engine, one that is found in a wide range of cars and yet still feels as if it's unique to each application.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
It's odd -- the A5 and S5 have been on the market for nearly five years, yet until now, I'd not driven one with this 2.0T. As sweet as the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 is and as brutal as the S5's former 4.2-liter V-8 was, I think the four-banger is my favorite. It's strong, it's smooth, and I love how we're able to mate a slick six-speed manual and the superb Quattro all-wheel-drive system to it.
As Joe mentioned, the price tag on this example eclipses $42,000. I don't think that's horrible, but one can always forgo the Premium Plus package -- and the accompanying LED taillamps, HID headlamps, heated front seats, and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity -- and save $2900. Base A5s still pack plenty of content in for the money, including the unusual panoramic sunroof. Although its large size allows plenty of light to permeate the otherwise gray cabin, other than venting, it doesn't fully open. Weird, but I suppose if feeling the wind rush through your hair while driving is a priority, there's always the A5 Cabriolet...
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
Perhaps more than any other automaker, Audi has been extremely successful at producing vehicles that really push the envelope of car design while rarely, if ever, crossing the line into the bizarre, space-age, or just plain ugly. This avant-garde design language also helps keep Audi vehicles looking fresher, longer, as is evidenced by this A5. It looks as if it debuted yesterday when in fact this nearly identical looking car went on sale as a 2008 model. And with the addition of the spunky but refined turbo four to the engine roster, you can have all this style and sex appeal for a reasonable $38,000, all while getting up to 31 mpg on the highway. If you are looking for a coupe that doesn't make you look like a racer boy and won't drain your bank account, the four-cylinder Audi A5 could be the perfect car.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
As BMW, Ford, Hyundai, and Buick are all launching new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinders, it's a good time to remind buyers that the specs don't tell the whole story. While the Audi A5's 2.0T may not be the most powerful (Hyundai Sonata), torquiest (Buick Regal GS), or most fuel efficient (Sonata again), it is the best engine of the bunch. The Audi (and Volkswagen) 2.0T earns that distinction due to its responsiveness, civility, and a deep exhaust growl that makes it sound like a much larger engine. Modern computer controls have helped every automaker minimize turbo lag from their boosted engines, but this Audi engine leaves the line without the slightest hint of sluggishness. From idle to redline, the engine delivers a smooth swell of power that rivals six-cylinder engines in terms of refinement. As good as the 2.0T is, Audi/Volkswagen engineers will inevitably need to push the power rating and fuel economy numbers higher if for no other reason than marketing credibility. When that does happen, I hope they can preserve the charming character of this engine.
Eric Tingwall, Assistant Editor