2010 Audi A5 Expert Review:Autoblog
With the introduction of the A5 for 2008, Audi launched itself into a vehicle segment it had never competed in – one which has waned significantly over the past two decades. Not so long ago, the personal luxury coupe was one of the top selling segments in the U.S., but for a wide variety of reasons, the overall sales picture left it behind.
Now you might ask yourself, "How is an A5 in any way similar to the likes of a 1970s-era Chevrolet Monte Carlo or Ford Thunderbird?" At first glance, the A5 is something completely different, but when you dig below the surface, there are more similarities than one might think – particularly when considering the 2.0T model. Except for a few NASCAR-inspired specials, PLCs of the 1970s weren't typically performance machines anyway – they focused more on style and creature comforts. And it's here where the A5 delivers.
Photos by Sam Abuelsamid / Max Abuelsamid / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
Over the past two decades, Audi has been steadily climbing the ranks to become one of the preeminent automotive design houses. Concepts through the 1990s and the 2000s included the original TT and Nuvolari showed that Audi was capable of delivering more than bland German executive lunchboxes. The real explosion began when the first-generation TT entered production, and ever since, Audi's lineup has grown bolder with each successive model. The birth of the A5 brought mainstream Audi design to a whole new level, and it's fair to say that not only is this coupe is among the most attractive Audis in existence, it's probably one of the best looking coupes we've seen in decades.
While the high-powered S5 coupe and cabrio balance sophistication with performance, the reality is most A5s are powered by a much milder 2.0-liter TFSI inline-four. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Larger coupes have almost always been more about style than substance, but all vehicle segments evolve over time, and the coupe market has proven no different. Over the years, mass-market brands looking to flesh out their lineups have embraced coupes as a way to add new variants of existing models without ballooning costs. The result was a proliferation of "coupes" that were often little more than two-door sedans that sacrificed ease of rear access without adding any real style. Worse yet, American personal luxury coupes became baroque and grotesque, and ultimately, a lack of substance contributed to their eventual demise.
We've become quite familiar with the A5's shape over the last several years and it's holding up incredibly well. Sharing the same mid-sized B8 platform as the A4 sedan/wagon and Q5 crossover, the A5 is clearly a modern Audi. However, the A5 has unique dimensions and proportions from its siblings, being lower, longer and wider than the A4 sedan, while riding on a shorter wheelbase. Combined with the 19-inch wheels, the overall effect is a more voluptuous effect than its sedan sibling.
The interior of the A5 will be instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with contemporary Audis. Two large primary gauges flank a central information display where the driver can page through an array of data. Everything from fuel economy to iPod tracks are directly in front to minimize looking away from the road. Our A5 tester was blessed with the Sport Package's optional front chairs, and their enhanced lateral bolstering and manually extendable thigh bolsters were more than welcome. The thick-rimmed steering wheel is grippy and adjustable for both reach and rake.
The racier roofline of the A5 means that the driver's hip point is commensurately lower. It's still nowhere near as sunken as the perches of most sports cars, but the A5 may not be ideal for those with mobility issues. As you might expect, access and accommodations in the rear seats aren't exactly commodious, although rear headroom is adequate (we managed to stuff a six-footer in back), anyone with longer-than-average legs may have an issue fitting comfortably in the back. At least there's a switch that motors the entire front seat forward, allowing rear passengers some latitude to control their own limited leg room.
While we are generally loathe to turn down more power, it makes sense to us that the best-selling member of the A5 family – by far – is powered by the Volkswagen Group's sweet 2.0-liter TFSI inline-four, putting out 211 horsepower and 256 pound-feet of torque. In this application, Audi's TFSI system includes a turbocharger and direct fuel injection, the latter of which allows the use of higher compression ratios and boost pressures without triggering piston-destroying knock. As a result, the relatively small engine can generate some serious torque over a broad rpm range, delivering power levels that would normally necessitate the application of a larger and less efficient engine.
A normally aspirated and direct-injected 3.2-liter V6 is also available, but while it produces 265 hp, it's down on torque to the inline-four with just 243 lb-ft. Further, the beefier powertrain adds an extra 200 pounds of heft, so you gain nothing over the four-cylinder model in performance and consume more fuel at the same time. With the extra weight hung out over the front axle, you also don't net anything in driver engagement, especially in North America, where V6 is paired exclusively with six-speed automatic transmission. The bottom line? Both models accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 6.4 seconds and you stand to have more fun getting there in the 2.0T, though one could certainly argue that the V6 makes a more appealing noise.
The best driver-oriented combination in the A5 family is also the least expensive – the four-pot paired with Audi's six-speed manual gearbox. The manual remains one of our favorites 'boxes thanks to its slick action and short throws. The clutch travel is smooth and predictable, making it easy to manage in stop-and-go traffic. Combined with the 2.0T's surprisingly robust torque curve, this combination provides some flexibility to drive in traffic without constantly rowing through the gears. The four-cylinder A5 may not win any drag races against some other sports coupes, but the DI turbo has more than enough grunt to instantly carry out passing maneuvers on a two-lane road without triggering any undue anxiety.
Another benefit of the entry-level drivetrain is its more desirable weight distribution. Along with the 40/60 front-rear torque split of the latest Quattro all-wheel-drive, there's remarkably little understeer compared to past Audis. Unlike the S4, the A5 doesn't feature Audi's trick torque vectoring rear differential, but buyers looking to push their coupe hard enough to notice will probably opt for the higher-performance model anyway. One thing every driver will notice, however, is the electro-hydraulic power steering assist. It's a tad light at low speeds, but firms up beautifully as speeds increase and has no disconcerting on-center dead zone.
Our A5 tester wasn't equipped with Audi's Drive Select, a system that includes variable damping and steering ratios, but it wasn't missed. On this model, the balance of spring and damping rates made trudging along the rough pavement of mid-Michigan a pleasure, without sacrificing dynamic responsiveness in the process. At 3,583 pounds, the A5 isn't a featherweight by any means, but Audi seems to have used the mass effectively to ensure it has built a solid structure. Even over the worst roads, the coupe remained tight and rattle-free.
With its graceful lines and classic proportions, the 2.0-liter A5 coupe really is the modern incarnation of the personal luxury coupe, albeit without the indulgent proportions, consumption and garishness of its 1970s antecedents. The A5 provides a great-looking ride for a couple while accommodating two more in a pinch. Its performance would have humbled pure sports cars not too long ago, and despite its small engine, even in moderately aggressive driving, it never feels like it's breathing hard. Even with little consideration for economy, our 2.0T-powered A5 returned a very respectable 25 miles per gallon in mixed driving.
As of mid-2010, Audi remains the only premium European brand offering four-cylinder engines in the U.S. market, and its consistent growth over the last several years indicates it may be on to something. Mercedes-Benz and BMW have both indicated that they will bring four-cylinder (and in BMW's case maybe even three-cylinder) engines back to their respective lineups in the coming years. You might think that a premium car with a four-banger might be just a loss-leader special, but Audi is showing it doesn't have to be so. At $44,750 including Premium, Sport and Navigation packages, the A5 is not inexpensive, but it's an attractive alternative to six-cylinder coupes like the BMW 3-Series, Cadillac CTS, Mercedes-Benz E350 and Infiniti G37, while providing better fuel economy to boot.
Photos by Sam Abuelsamid / Max Abuelsamid / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.
New Car Test Drive
New engines drop entry price, raise top-down performance.
The Audi A5 and the high-performance Audi S5 are mid-size coupes and convertibles, larger than the Audi TT. The A5 is so gorgeous it has won design awards for its looks alone. A handsome, distinctive shape identifies the A5 from virtually any angle, with flowing curves bringing musculature to sleek, aerodynamic forms and arresting light patterns. Viewed from behind there's a chance of mistaking an A5 for a British GT, but from any other angle it's unmistakably Audi.
Changes for 2010 are found under that beautiful exterior, including new engine choices.
The A5 and S5 are grand touring cars designed to cover lots of ground at high speed while coddling a pair of occupants. They seat two-plus-two; the rear seats are for the occasional adult passengers or for bringing small kids along. The A5 involves the driver physically, audibly, and mentally though never to the point of making it a chore or less than inviting. The Audi S5 can be hustled down virtually any road at a good clip. These are big cars, however, so they don't behave like small sports cars.
Audi interiors have been racking up awards for a long time and the A5 is in the same mold. It has the features expected, good ergonomics, a central interface system that won't drive you to cursing, and it's all assembled to a high standard using appropriate materials. Despite the standard all-wheel drive it also has reasonable trunk space, so you can enjoy a road trip of just about any length or destination.
The A5 delivers confidence and luxury in a package not likely to be seen at every intersection and very likely to come across as a good value. The S5 delivers more performance and luxury, at a higher price, yet still represents a good value for the money.
A5 competes with the BMW 3 Series and 6 Series coupes and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe, but the A5's style and capabilities are such that it might also be shopped against the Jaguar XK or Porsche 911. All of these are terrific cars, but only the 911 can match the Audi A5 or S5 with the availability of all-wheel drive, and with the Porsche there would be a substantially higher price. Quattro all-wheel drive comes on all A5 models.
New for 2010 is the addition to the line of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This not only offers buyers a choice with higher fuel economy, but also at a significantly lower initial price, the lowest priced 2010 A5 is $4,700 less than the entry model for 2009. EPA fuel economy numbers for the Coupe with the four-cylinder engine and manual transmission are 22 mpg City, 30 mpg Highway, and for the Cabriolet with the four-cylinder engine, Multitronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-drive, the figures are 23/30 mpg.
The 3.2-liter V6, previously the standard A5 engine, continues in the A5 Coupe but not the Cabriolet. The A5 Coupe 3.2-liter engine produces 265 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque and comes with the Tiptronic six-speed automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive; the V6 is no longer available with a manual transmission.
Also new for 2010 is the introduction of a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission for the 2010 S5 Cabriolet. The 2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet features top-down motoring with 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque on tap. With direct injection, a two-stage intake, and dual intercoolers, the S6 Cabrio's 3.0-liter supercharged V6 is both powerful and efficient, and is EPA-rated at 17/26 mpg.
The S5 Coupe features the 4.2-liter V8, with 354 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, and is available with a six-speed manual transmission or the Tiptronic.
Finally, there have been changes in trim levels, option packages, some features, and wheel designs for 2010.
The 2010 Audi A5 line comes in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. The Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T Premium ($36,000) has the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine, Quattro all-wheel drive, and six-speed manual gearbox or Tiptronic automatic ($37,200). There is also an A5 Cabriolet with Front Trak front-wheel drive and continuously variable transmission ($42,000) and an A5 Cabriolet Quattro Tiptronic ($44,100).
Premium trim includes leather upholstery, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, climate control, power front seats, 50/50 split-fold rear seat with pass-through, tilt/telescoping steering column, glass roof with shade, driver information center, AM/FM/CD/satellite/SD-card 180-watt 10-speaker stereo, fog lights, 18-inch wheels, heated windshield washers, cruise control, and power windows/locks/mirrors.
Premium Plus for A5 Coupe 2.0T ($39,500), A5 Cabriolet 2.0T Front Trak CVT ($45,500), and A5 Cabriolet 2.0T Quattro Tiptronic ($47,600) adds xenon headlights with LED running lights, three-zone automatic climate control, six-step heated front seats, iPod interface, Bluetooth, Homelink garage-door opener, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and automatic headlights.
Prestige trim for the A5 Coupe 2.0T ($44,300), Cabriolet Front Track CVT ($50,300), and Cabriolet 2.0T quattro Tiptronic ($52,400) adds memory for seat, mirrors and steering wheel; and advanced key system; Audi navigation; voice control for phone and navigation; and a Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker, 505-watt sound system.
The 3.2 versions have the 3.2-liter V6 engine with 265 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque, the Tiptronic six-speed transmission and quattro. They are available only in the Coupe body style, in Premium Plus ($44,000) and Prestige ($48,000) trim levels. Their equipment levels mimic those of the 2.0T versions.
The S5 Cabriolet is available in Premium Plus ($58,250) and Prestige ($63,950) trim levels. S5 Cabriolet is fitted with 3.0-liter supercharged V6, seven-speed S Tronic transmission and Quattro. The S5 Premium Plus and Prestige are equipped similarly to the equivalent A5 versions, but add a larger brake system, high-pressure headlight washers, and numerous interior upgrades, including steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, brushed aluminum trim and silk Nappa leather sport seats.
The S5 Coupe has the 4.2-liter V8, with 354 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, and is available with a six-speed manual transmission in Premium Plus ($52,400) and Prestige ($58,100) trim, or with the Tiptronic in Premium Plus ($53,600) and Prestige ($59,300). Options include a navigation system that includes rear park assist with a rear-view camera ($2,500); Drive Select ($2,950), which allows the driver to adjust engine and shock absorber damping to suit personal preferences for performance and handling; Adaptive Cruise Control ($2,100); and a Driver Assist package ($900). The Sport package ($1,450) upgrades with 19-inch wheels and tires, sport seats, and sports suspension. There are also S-line versions of the A5, which include the Sport package contents and additional trim features.
Safety gear that comes standard on all A5 and S5 models consists of two-stage driver and adaptive passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, Backguard headrests, electronic stability control, ABS, EBD, all-wheel drive, and tire-pressure monitors.
The Audi A5 and S5 are arguably among the better looking cars on the road, appearing at once formal and sporting. On each side a strong character line arches over the front wheel and carries all the way to the tail, but apart from the bottom of the door and sides of the panoramic glass roof there's hardly a straight line to be found.
Proportions are classic coupe with minimal bodywork ahead of the front wheels, a substantial rear roof pillar, moderate trunk lid and a longer tail than snout. The door windows are frameless and visual strength is added by a central pillar that hides as a dark panel behind the rear side glass.
Out in the open the A5 appears larger than it really is; almost the same length as a BMW 3 Series coupe or a Mercedes CLK, which is narrower; the Audi is half a foot shorter than Jaguar's XK, BMW's 650 or Bentley's GTC and just half a foot longer than a 911, yet it comes across at least as spacious inside as any of those.
In terms of styling, the A5 is the cleanest, the S5 the most aggressive, and the A5 with S-line package splits the difference. The leading edges of the car are the inner points of the lower grilles that separate the central grille section from the lights and side grilles, much like the leading points of a manta ray. On the S5 aluminum-look trim is used at the lower edge of the grille, on the outside mirrors, and at the bottom of the rear bumper between the four exhaust outlets.
Bi-xenon headlamps give these cars that wild-animal-stalking-prey look. Crisp, white LED daytime running lamps run along the bottoms and outer edges of these headlamps, setting a higher standard for appearance and function; they can be turned off if you wish, automatically dim for use as parking lights, and are off on whichever side the turn signal is blinking for better vision of said signal. Most car companies could learn something from this design.
All wheels are five-spoke or a derivative, like the two-by-five propeller-blade shaped spokes on the S5 which use a fingered center cap to cover all the lug nuts.
The designer of the A5 calls the car the most beautiful he has ever designed. The A5 made it onto Hagerty's Hot List, so a leading insurer of collector cars believes the A5 may become more desirable over the next 20 years.
Climb into an Audi A5 and you're immediately convinced this is a driver's car, albeit a nicely finished one that you could easily see using as a daily driver. The A5 and S5 offer multiple selections of leather and trim, including different types of wood, carbon fiber, aluminum or stainless steel. Every surface has a pleasant feel, regardless of the material from which it's constructed. It is modern Teutonic luxury in the vein of multiple finishes that complement each other well, with stark efficiency or warmth determined by color choices and trim components.
The S5 cabin is done in mostly dark materials, including the woven headliner and sunshade. Lighter trim highlights the roof panel pull (it slides forward from the rear), gauge nacelles, vents, speaker grilles, and control knobs with piano black centers. The black lacquer also surrounds the primary control area aft of the shifter.
A three-spoke leather-wrapped wheel has hand grips at all the right places and just two controls on each side spoke. However, each side has a thumbwheel that serves multiple functions by scrolling up or down or pressing to click, allowing a majority of system operations to be done without removing a hand from the wheel. Oft-used controls like cruise, signals, flash-to-pass/main beams, and wipe/wash are all on handy stalks. The wheel adjusts for reach and rake with a single manual release, giving all the advantages: Proper driving position, spacing from airbag, and instrument view. The center armrest also adjusts for height and rake, so it you can use it in cruise mode and slide it out of the way for lots of shifting on winding roads.
Front seats range from very good in the A5 to excellent in the S5, and the S-line models fall in between. Any A5/S5 seat provides for hours of comfort and wiggle room while maintaining all the lateral support required to explore the car's capabilities. On the S5 the headrests are integral with the backrest and not adjustable, yet the head rest and neck protection are all in the right place and satisfactory for those well past six feet. Thigh extensions in the seat cushions let those tall drivers use more chair than just the area under their pants pockets, and there's plenty of leg room and a good dead pedal.
A fast-slide switch on the front seat backrests eases access to the rear buckets which are nicely sculpted and comfortable for most up to 5-feet, 10-inches tall. A substantial armrest folds down over central storage trays and passengers are catered to with reading lights, two speakers per side, coat hooks, outboard storage pockets, cupholders, and a pair of vents with adjustable temperature control.
To enlarge the cargo area the rear seat folds in a 50/50-split, allowing a pass-through into the passenger compartment for carrying longer items.
The driver faces a tachometer and speedometer with smaller temperature and fuel gauges outboard in the two teardrop-shaped pods; in between, there's a bank of warning lights across the top and information display in the center. This panel shows a variety of data, much of it chosen by the driver using the stalk and wheel controls; even on manual transmission cars it displays the gear selected in white and, if another gear offers the same performance on less gas, an arrow and a number for that gear in green. Night driving is further aided by deep amber illumination that offers the fastest recovery time for your eyes, smoked-lens vanity mirror lamps mounted in the roof, and shaded map lights that light your lap, not your eyes.
A well-shaded screen for the MMI (multi-media interface) is located on the center stack and angled toward the driver. The MMI controls many of the car's functions and displays navigation maps and the rear camera view. MMI has a central control knob, somewhat like BMW i-Drive and Mercedes COMAND systems. This is the third generation of MMI, and its operation has been simplified by the adoption of a joystick that's integrated into the central control knob. It has a new complete-word input capability, three-dimensional map displays and a music jukebox on the internal hard disc drive. Operating it may require a little familiarization but it is quicker and requires less button-clicking frustration than similar systems. The MMI controller is immediately behind the shifter but not accidentally hit by a resting hand or quick shift. To the left of the lever are the parking brake and Start/Stop buttons, and to the right is the volume knob; this is less than convenient in sixth gear so you'll find the steering wheel control the logical, handy choice.
Below the central screen are a pair of vents, the six-disc changer, and some simple switchgear. At the base of the console are the climate controls, with buttons to select fan speed, temperature, airflow, and seat heat and a small rotary knob to make the adjustments. Full auto mode is available, as is full manual control without any confusion.
The navigation system works as directed. Sound from the optional 505-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo system is most impressive.
Outward visibility is quite good, with relatively narrow pillars and the side posts far enough rearward that they don't interfere with lane-change or close-quarter over the shoulder glances. The rear pillars are generally unnoticed, the rear window usefully large and distortion-free, and the edges of the bodywork not totally lost in the distance.
Cabin storage includes a shallow bin in the armrest, one center cupholder and a phone-sized bin adjacent, glovebox, and door pockets with beverage stands at the leading edge.
The trunk opening is larger than many two-doors and takes advantage of the trunk lid length to open well out of the way. There are four tie-down rings, a spare underneath, and 12.0 cubic feet of trunk capacity.
The Audi A5 offers precise handling, feeling at times like it's on rails. The A5 lineup offers a wide choice of powertrains that significantly affect its driving character.
The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is smooth and powerful. It produces strong torque to propel the car quickly from intersections and up hills. More impressive is the width of the powerband, that area of engine speed that delivers maximum power. The turbocharged engine makes big torque from just off idle at 1500 rpm all the way to 4200 rpm. And from 4300-6000 rpm it delivers 211 horsepower. It will rev to 6700 rpm, but there isn't much point when you've got that much midrange power.
If long highway cruises are on your agenda the A5 with the 3.2-liter V6 scoots quickly to speed, cruises all day at elevated velocities and returns better fuel economy than the V8.
Steering is nicely weighted on the A5, and it doesn't lack feel. We classify the Audi's steering heavier than a BMW in standard mode, but lighter than a BMW in Sport mode, so it's a happy medium. At parking speeds, it is light and quick, with a respectable cut for maneuvering.
The A5 has exemplary handling characteristics. The A5 rides more smoothly than the S5 does. The suspension has no slop or wallow in it but is more compliant than that of the S5, and the A5's tires absorb bumps better.
An A5 with the S-line package is a step firmer than the standard A5, though not as sporting as the S5. The S-line is perhaps the best for enthusiasts saddled with poor roads.
Quattro, Audi's all-wheel drive system, nominally sends 40 percent of the power to the front wheels and 60 percent to the rear wheels to give dynamics related to a rear-wheel-drive car with the stability and enhanced poor weather traction of all-wheel drive. This system is always on and requires no driver action, automatically distributing propulsion in the most efficient, effective, stable manner.
The S5 comes with a V8 that starts with a deep purr, then aligns with the V6's more mechanical song in the upper revs. The gas pedal has lots of travel so the driver can fine tune how much power to apply and how quickly. The S5 is an Autobahn bruiser, its elastic well of torque set up to accelerate with authority from virtually any speed (0-60 mph in around five seconds) and it's still pulling as it is reined in electronically at 155 mph. That speed isn't useful in the American landscape but the flexibility certainly is. Where some muscle cars reach 50 or 60 mph in first gear with the engine turning 6000 rpm, the freer-revving S5 does only 65 mph in second gear at 7000 rpm. Power comes on smoothly and progressively, with plenty of torque to get you moving and a soundtrack Mozart couldn't better, rather like a muted American LeMans racing sports car, as the engine approaches its redline. At 65 mph, the engine spins 15 percent to 25 percent faster than most big V8s, so even at that speed in top gear there is useful urge in acceleration.
The S5 gearing also pays dividends around town, where motion is so effortless you can start out smoothly from a stop in second gear. The car will idle in gear quite slowly and has decent compression braking so you can crawl along in traffic, and with just the slightest forethought, rarely have to use the clutch pedal. The manual shifter feels solid and of some heft, reminding us of a front-engine Porsche and heavier than the typical BMW; it is direct, precise and never misses a gear. Indeed, the only negative aspect of driving the S5 as a daily gridlock grinder is the gas mileage.
Big brakes and sticky tires haul the S5 down from speed in a drama-free hurry, without the nose diving to the pavement or the tail standing up like a hound on alert. Designed where repeated heavy slowing from 125 mph is common, the Audi's brakes will be tested in America only on racetracks. Naturally, the latest generations of electronic brake assistants are on board, but you have to be a real poser to have them come into play.
With quattro, the S5 is able to put down all 354 horsepower in any dry conditions and a greater proportion of it in inclement conditions than would be possible without quattro. There's no tire spinning nor even a chirp as it lunges toward the horizon. With a set of narrower dedicated winter tires the only alternative that might come close is the considerably more expensive Porsche Carrera 4.
The S5 is the first recent Audi in which the differential is mounted between the engine and the transmission, taking some weight off the front wheels. The S5 splits its weight almost evenly over the front and rear wheels which, when matched with the all-wheel drive, allows each corner to do a near-equal amount of work. That translates to a car that feels less nose-heavy than before, changes directions much more crisply, minimizes body roll (just enough to know you're pushing it) and delivers inspiring confidence; indeed, we covered one stretch of wet road without putting a foot wrong as fast as we'd covered it in dry weather with a top-notch rear-wheel-drive sport sedan still prone to twitching its tail and not because of too much power. Some credit is due the 19-inch sport tires, but it is the S5's lightweight, independent suspension, good balance, and all-wheel-drive grip that let it put on such displays of composure. Even a hack of a driver can frequently motor along quite briskly without any intervention from the stability system.
Although the S5 is heavier, with its larger engine and higher feature content, than an A5, the S5 has slightly better balance. The S5 weighs nearly 4,000 pounds, though, and doesn't have quite the feeling of place-it-anywhere lightness of a BMW 3 Series coupe or Jaguar XK. This isn't a bad thing, more a demonstration of the Audi's long-distance, high-speed touring philosophy as opposed to a less-compromised sports car. The ride is never punishing, but those more expensive rides with adjustable suspension do offer a bit more compliance for the marginal surfaces of some interstates.
Adaptive headlights, on models so equipped, swivel to illuminate the road in corners by reacting to steering wheel movement. And these are among the best, as they precisely follow the wheel and don't jerk from side to side as some do, better illuminating the road than making a distracting light show. So we recommend opting for them.
The Audi A5 is an immensely capable luxury coupe, especially for those who don't travel light or cancel plans because of weather. The S5 offers the same benefits with increased performance and a firmer ride. Other cars may excel at a given quality or quantity, but few can match the overall balance of the affordable A5 or deliver the performance blend of the S5. Both offer impressively handsome styling and top-notch engineering.
G.R. Whale filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after his test drive of A5 and S5 models in Southern California.
Audi A5 2.0T Coupe Premium manual ($36,000); 2.0T Coupe Premium Tiptronic ($37,200); 2.0T Cabriolet Premium CVT Front Trak ($42,000); 2.0T Cabriolet Premium Tiptronic ($44,100); 3.2 Coupe Premium Plus Tiptronic ($44,000); S5 3.0T Cabriolet Premium Plus ($58,250); S5 4.2 Coupe Premium Plus manual ($52,400); S5 Coupe Premium Plus Tiptronic ($53,600); S5 4.2 Coupe Prestige Tiptronic ($59,300).
Options As Tested
Bang & Olufsen sound system ($850); Navigation Package with back-up camera ($2,400) includes navigation, Sirius, voice control, driver information display, rear park assist, and back-up camera.
Audi S5 Coupe 4.2 Premium Plus with manual ($52,400).
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