No A5 is short of power. Even the cheapest petrol model – with a 1.8-litre turbo engine – gives punchy performance, but you can also have a 2.0-litre turbo and a 3.0-litre V6. The entry-level diesel is a flexible 2.0-litre, while 201bhp and 242bhp 3.0-litre units complete the line-up. You can also choose from manual and automatic transmissions, and front- and four-wheel drive.
The A5 turns into bends sharply and grips well, but most versions feel a bit floaty over dips and crests, and unsettled on bumpy roads. S line suspension cures the former problem, but it also brings an overly firm and crashy ride. The optional three-mode Drive Select system, which adjusts the suspension and steering settings, doesn’t help much, either.
All the engines are smooth and civilised: the V6 diesel sounds more like a petrol unit, and the S5’s cultured V6 is a pleasure to listen to. Wind noise creeps in at motorway speeds, however, and there are clunks and clatters from the suspension.
The A5 is priced to compete with the 3-Series Coupe. Insurance and leasing costs are low for this type of car, and resale values should be very strong. Four-cylinder versions are impressively economical, and have low CO2 emissions; the V6 models are dearer to run, especially with the quattro four-wheel drive system, but are more cost-effective than many similarly-powered V6 coupes.
The A5 lives up to Audi’s reputation for good build quality, although there are some tacky plastic door pulls, cheap-feeling switchgear and untextured plastics in the middle of the dash. Audi reliability isn't always as good as buyers expect, and the A5 rated as below average in this respect in the 2012 JD Power survey.
From both the passive (seatbelts and airbags) and active (anti-lock brakes and stability control) points of view, the A5 has everything buyers of an expensive, quick coupe would expect, including front and rear ISOFIX child seat mounting points and an alarm. Options on offer include adaptive xenon headlights, lane-departure and blind-spot warning systems, and a rear-view camera.
The driver’s seat is supportive and comfortable, and while the angled rear window and high sides do affect visibility, it’s no worse than in many saloons. Unfortunately, the ventilation controls are fussy, the pedals are way off-centre, and because the clutch pedal drops into a recess in the floor, the only way to push it down fully is to poke it with the end of your toe.
Audi describes the A5 as a four-seater – but that depends on who the four are. The rear seats are too cramped for tall adults, as the roofline restricts rear headroom and there’s little leg- and kneeroom. Even kids will find it rather claustrophobic in the back. However, the car does at least have a big boot and folding rear seats for plenty of luggage space, while the wide doors make access to the rear reasonably easy.
Entry-level trim is reserved for the four-cylinder engines; it’s reasonably equipped, but most buyers will upgrade to SE, which is standard with the six-cylinder engines. Extras on SE models include an upgraded stereo, larger alloy wheels, leather seats and rear parking sensors. S line trim brings extra sporty trim and xenon headlights, while the S5 is a stand-alone model that comes with higher-quality leather, extra cosmetic upgrades and electrically adjustable front sports seats.
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