2011 A5 New Car Test Drive
The Audi A5 and Audi S5 are 2+2 coupes and convertibles with stunning looks and the greatest variety of engines and drive systems in the class.
A handsome, distinctive shape identifies the A5 from 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.
Audi A5 and S5 are grand touring cars designed to cover lots of ground at high speed while coddling a pair of occupants. The rear seats are for the occasional adult passengers or for bringing 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 substantial cars, however, so they don't behave like small, lightweight 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 on most models it also has reasonable trunk space, so you can enjoy a road trip of just about any length or destination.
The Audi A5 delivers confidence and luxury in a package not likely to be seen at every intersection. The Audi S5 delivers more performance and luxury, which comes at a higher price, yet it still represents a good value among high-performance coupes.
Audi A5 competes with 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 fine cars, but only the 911 can match the A5 or S5 with the availability of all-wheel drive, and with the Porsche it comes at a substantially higher price. Quattro all-wheel drive comes standard on all A5 models except one convertible A5.
The Audi A5 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. EPA fuel economy numbers for the Audi A5 Coupe with the four-cylinder engine, manual gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive are 21 mpg City, 31 mpg Highway. For the Audi A5 Cabriolet with the four-cylinder engine, continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive, the figures are 22/30 mpg. Automatic quattro coupes get an EPA-rated 21/29 mpg.
The Audi S5 Cabriolet is powered 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with S-tronic 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The supercharged V6 has 333 horsepower, 325 pound-feet of torque on tap and a quick-shifting automated manual gearbox for performance. The federal government rates the S5 at 17/26 mpg.
The Audi S5 Coupe uses a rev-happy 4.2-liter V8, with 354 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, essentially a milder version of the engine in Audi's R8 mid-engine sports car. The S5 coupe uses a 6-speed automatic or manual gearbox, the latter the quickest of all S5 models, and the least fuel efficient.
The 2011 Audi A5 coupe comes with a new 8-speed automatic. Last year's 3.2-liter V6 engine has been dropped. Also, there have been changes in some options, packages and wheel designs, and navigation includes HD radio for the 2011 model year.
The Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T Premium ($36,500) has the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine, quattro all-wheel drive, and 6-speed manual gearbox or 8-speed automatic ($37,790). The Audi A5 Cabriolet with front-wheel drive and CVT ($42,000) and the A5 Cabriolet quattro 6-speed automatic ($44,190) also use the 2.0T engine. Audi uses the name Tiptronic for conventional automatic transmissions and S tronic for dual-clutch automatic transmissions.
The 2011 Audi A5 line comes in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels.
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, aluminum cabin trim, moonroof, trip computer, AM/FM/CD/satellite/SD-card 180-watt 10-speaker stereo, fog lights, 18-inch wheels, heated windshield washers, cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels and power windows/locks/heated mirrors. The Cabriolet model adds the fabric folding top with heated glass rear window and wind blocker. Premium options include Bluetooth/HomeLink ($700), heated front seats ($450), walnut wood trim ($350), iPod integration $300, 19-inch chrome-clad wheels and summer tires ($1100).
Premium Plus ($3700) adds to a Premium bi-Xenon headlights with LED running lights, LED tail lamps, three-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, iPod interface, Bluetooth, HomeLink garage-door opener, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and automatic headlights. (All New Car Test Drive prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include destination charge and may change at any time without notice.)
Premium Plus options include navigation ($2,550); Sport package ($1,450) with 19-inch wheels and performance tires, three-spoke steering wheel, sport seats with lumbar, sports suspension; Bang & Olufsen sound system ($850); cinnamon-brown Milano leather ($1,000); and dark walnut or nutmeg laurel wood trim ($350). Cabriolets also offer a Comfort package ($2,400) with heated and ventilated Milano leather sport seats with lumbar, neck-level heating system.
Prestige trim adds to the Premium Plus package with driver memory system, advanced key system, navigation with voice control, color-information screen, auto-dimming mirrors, rear park sensors and camera, and a Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker, 505-watt sound system. Prestige options are Audi side assist ($500), S line package ($2,450) with 19-inch wheels/performance tires, black leather/alcantara sport seats, sports suspension, S line specific cabin trim and bodywork; Sport package; Audi drive select ($2,950); adaptive cruise control and collision-mitigation braking ($2100); power rear window sunshade ($500); wood trim; and the Cabriolet Comfort package.
Audi S5 Coupe uses 4.2-liter V8, with 354 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, and is available with a 6-speed manual transmission ($53,100 plus federal gas guzzler tax $1300) or 6-speed automatic ($54,300). Larger brakes and firmer suspension are among the mechanical upgrades for the high-performance S models.
Premium Plus is the standard S5 spec, with the equipment of an A5 of that grade plus 19-inch wheels and high-performance tires, sports suspension, S5 sport seats in Nappa leather and aluminum door sill inserts as standard. Options include navigation; sports rear differential ($1100); wheels; Alcantara seat inserts; Bang & Olufsen sound system; and cabin trim of carbon atlas, gray birch or stainless and piano black lacquer. Prestige adds the features outlined in A5 coupe Prestige. Prestige model options include those directly above that are not standard. Also available for S5 Prestige: Audi driver select ($3,950) with adaptive damping, dynamic steering, sports rear differential; Audi side assist; adaptive cruise control; and power rear sunshade.
Audi S5 Cabriolet is fitted with a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and 7-speed S tronic transmission. The S5 Cabriolet is equipped much like the S5 coupe.
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, active headrests, electronic stability control, ABS, EBD and tire-pressure monitors. All except one A5 Cabriolet come with all-wheel drive. The coupes also have side-curtain airbags while the Cabriolets have front knee airbags.
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