Slipping behind the wheel of the A5 after walking off a whirlwind five flights in three days I was surprised that our tester was a base-level car with the only option of xenon headlights. Once the jetlag subsided, it turned out that I was quite wrong: this A5 was a mid-level Premium Plus car with almost $8000 in options, retailing for nearly $48,000. It just goes to show that the A5's design is gorgeous no matter how it's optioned and will easily deceive onlookers on how much you may or may not have spent. However, I look forward to the revised car due next year for the interior - while it is very well executed, the black plastics on the center console and stack have always struck me as cheap-looking and too abundant for the interior of a premium luxury car.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
This one is a personal favorite. I'm a sucker for Audi's elegant designs, rich-yet-restrained cabins, and their wonderful turbocharged 2.0-liter. But with all of the pressure from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, and Hyundai, I wonder how much longer Audi can justify selling this engine with an output of just 211 hp; all of those competitors offer the same displacement with more power -- as much as 274 hp in the case of Hyundai. Not that the Audi needs it. It's all about accessible torque with this engine that makes it feel like much larger engine. Even the deep exhaust note that obscures the fact that it's a four-cylinder.
The sport package is nicely executed, firming up the ride without stiffening it to the point that it crashes over scarred surfaces. Rowing through the gears of the six-speed manual feels quicker and more precise than that of a 3-series. In fact, virtually everything about the A5 is up to BMW standards save for the steering, which feels a touch artificial at low speeds and doesn't deliver much feedback in aggressive driving. Still, it's generally well-weighted such that the entire car feels like something special to the driving enthusiast.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
Audi of America outfitted our tester with Pirelli Sotto Zero winter tires, which made me wish for a snowstorm, because the combination of Quattro all-wheel drive and highest-quality performance winter rubber would make the A5 an invincible winter machine. I'm struck by the amount of automotive beauty you get for your dollar in the A5; I mean, forty-five thousand dollars isn't cheap, but I've been A5 coupes that cost less than $40K. In any case, this is a car that, every time you park it, you glance back at it as you walk away. Everywhere I parked it over the weekend I drove it, it looked spectacular, whether it was in my driveway, in my Audi A4-owning friend's driveway, or at the curb in downtown Ann Arbor. As I drove to the office this morning, I passed an A5 convertible going the other direction, and as the two A5s swept by each other, it created an instant of beauty that Miller Road has probably seldom before experienced.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
I put quite a few miles on the Audi A5 over the holiday, driving to the outlet mall some forty miles away to do some last-minute Christmas shopping and then on Christmas Eve traveling another 140 miles to my mother's house. On the freeway, which is where most of my time in the A5 was spent, the fact that it is equipped with a four-cylinder engine is not a negative. Yes, it only has 211 horsepower, but it gets up to highway speeds relatively quickly and, once there, cruises effortlessly. The trunk was spacious enough to hold my overnight roller bag, several bags of presents, various foodstuffs, and a dog bed with room to spare.
For me, the styling of the A5 never gets old. Its lines are fluid and its profile sleek, and the cabin, while not opulent, is comfortable, uses top-grade materials, is well executed, and has very smart ergonomics. The volume control on the center console to the right of the gearshifter is perfectly placed - I wish more automakers would adopt the concept (in fact, in the next car I got into, I kept putting my hand there to try to adjust the volume).
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor