Audi A5 review - handsome coupe may be old, but still holds appeal
Audi’s big A5 coupé is more genteel GT than hard-charging driver’s choice
There’s no denying that the Audi A5’s a handsome, finely built and rounded car, but it’s getting old and struggles to make a case for itself behind the wheel over its German rivals. They’re sharper to drive, but regardless the A5’s not short of appeal, so long as you’re looking for a big, useful GT car. There’s a whiff of Bentley Continental GT in how it goes about its business in bigger engined, quattro four-wheel drive versions, while the fleet-friendly diesels and four-seat capability (at a push) mean you might be able to hoodwink your fleet manager into allowing you one over an ordinary saloon.
The S5 and RS 5 models might be the obvious evo choices, but really the A5 is best sampled when the engines aren’t asking more of the big Audi than it can deliver. The 2.0-litre TDI is a worthy daily driver, though the 3.0-litre V6 TDI gives even more pace along with fuel pump-avoiding ability, but stay away from it in front-wheel drive guise where it’s in a lesser 201bhp output and is mated to Audi’s Multitronic CVT gearbox. Opt for the quattro with its more convincing 241bhp, greater torque, traction and, significantly, a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission. It’s the fastest of the non-S or RS models too, thanks to its plentiful 369lb ft of torque, that better automatic and all-wheel drive security making it a very useful all-rounder.
There are more convincing driver’s cars that you could pick over the Audi A5, but it remains a compelling choice so long as you’re not after the last word in sharpness and driver engagement. Its appeal runs a bit deeper; run an A5 for a while - so long as it’s not Multitronic equipped - and you’ll grow to appreciate its finely rounded character and wide breadth of ability. That it's so good looking undoubtedly helps its case, but so too does a cabin that’s more in the luxury category for fit, feel and finish than anything else in the executive class.
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That formula seems to have worked for Audi, as the A5 is a hugely popular big coupé that, despite its two-door body, isn’t as impractical as some. For those after some more glamour the A5’s also offered in Cabriolet form. It loses a little rear seat space and boot capacity to the folding roof, but remains a relatively sensible drop-top regardless.
Performance and 0-60mph time > S5 and RS5 naturally top the performance tree, but other models are still brisk. Quickest is the 3.0 TDI, with a 5.8-second 0-62mph time.
Engine and gearbox > Wide range of power units should please just about everyone. Turbocharged petrol and diesel units are all strong and frugal, and S-tronic dual-clutch transmissions are smooth.
Ride and handling > The A5 has long been more about security than it has fun - you'll not find much steering feel or true agility, but there aren't many better coupes to be behind the wheel of when poor weather descends.
MPG and running costs > 2.0 TDI Ultra is the model to go for if low consumption and emissions are your goal, with 67.3mpg combined and 109g/km. 50mpg is more realistic, but most models are fairly frugal.
Prices, specs and rivals > BMW's 4-series and the new Mercedes-Benz C-class Coupe might tempt you away from the A5. The Mercedes is newest and out-Audis Audi for interior ambience; BMW's car is better to drive.
Interior and tech > There's a typically solid-feeling cabin and quality materials, but the A5's cabin is now beginning to date - particularly alongside the slick new A4's innards.
Design > A handsome car, despite its advancing years. Looks best in S-Line trim (and as an S5 or RS5), and it's hard to say that it's dating either - a credit to Audi's design team.