By KBB.com Editors
These are interesting times for the luxury car market in North America, and it is made more interesting by the almost explosive growth of Audi in the U.S. The addition of the A5/S5 Coupe and Cabriolet to its mix only serves to raise that growth and awareness. And while there have been a host of competitors attempting to capture the allure of the BMW's 3 Series Coupe and Convertible, most make the attempt with a barely concealed clone of the original recipe. To Audi's credit, the A5 and its S5 performance derivative represent their own takes on a near-luxury sporting coupe and cabriolet. Not only does Audi's recipe constitute a viable option to the 3 Series, in an era of diminishing resources it could constitute a viable alternative to Bentley's Continental GT. And while we're not sure how that would work in or around Windsor Castle, we know it would play (and play...) on California's 101.
In a word (or two), Audi's take on the near-luxury coupe and cab encloses a competent drivetrain and comfortable accommodation with what is generally accepted as drop-dead gorgeous sheetmetal. If you are at the life stage which puts a value on at least two of the above three, you'll love Audi's take on two-door transport.
Despite Audi's spectacular growth in recent years, it remains well outside the consideration curve for those solidly in the automotive mainstream. In the segment there are a number of no-brainers, including BMW's 3 Series, the Mercedes C-Class/E-Class, and Infiniti's G37. If auto buying is little more than a reflexive exercise, you'll probably find yourself in someone else's showroom.
For 2011, there are new wheel designs, tweaks in interior trim, and a new Titanium Sport Package available with Premium Plus and Prestige models.
Driving Impressions The A5, sharing its basic platform with Audi's most recent A4, puts an emphasis on balance. With a new all-wheel drive gearbox, the engine can be placed further back in...the chassis, creating a far better weight distribution than is typically found in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive chassis. The A5's base 2.0 liter four is responsive, although arguably works better in Audi's own TT or A3 than in the heavier A5. The Cabriolet's standard supercharged V6 is probably the sweet spot in the coupe/cab's drivetrain selection. The all-independent suspension is supple, the steering amazingly direct, and the overall comfort level high. That said, going to 19-inch rims will compromise the ride, and the S5's V8 will compromise your license.
quattro All-Wheel Drive
Standard on all but the A5 Cabriolet - which employs front-wheel drive - the Audi all-wheel-drive system is one for the ages. Impeccably balanced, with a 40 percent front/60 percent rear torque split in most driving situations, the A5 and S5 are revelations to those coming to all-wheel drive with '80s-era preconceptions.
S tronic Dual-Clutch Transmission
With the precision of a manual and convenience of an automatic, the dual-clutch transmission, which is made standard on the S5 Cabriolet, is a way significant moment in the annals of high-performance motoring, and embellishes the S5's capability as an uber-tourer. We look forward to its widening availability on other Audi models.
At a company known for its brilliant interiors - both in design and execution - the A5 and S5 don't disappoint. The leather-upholstered front buckets provide that often elusive combination of accessibility and lateral support, while the rear seating area serves as a comfortable enclave for two. And while the Coupe's greenhouse is visually airy, the EPA rates the interior environs as subcompact. Moderately sized adults will be comfortable; larger physical types should grab their own A5. The S5 moves the meter, with S-design leather sport seats, Silk Nappa leather and unique inlays (brushed aluminum, carbon fiber, stainless steel or gray birch) completing the high-performance impression.Exterior
As the only enthusiast pub in the U.S. with a regular column (by Robert Cumberford) focusing on automotive design, Automobile Magazine knows of what it writes. In 2009 the magazine awarded its "Design of the Year" to Audi's A5 Coupe. One look confirms their selection. You're greeted by Audi's mono-form grille, drawn in by carefully sculpted side contours and delighted by a crisp character line which runs the length of the car. The A5/S5 mechanical layout sets the engine further back in the chassis than is the typical FWD/AWD norm, allowing for a shorter front overhang and more athletic stance. Finally, the A5/S5 Cabriolet's use of a cloth roof is an almost classic touch, and has the practical benefit of not impeding (significantly) available trunk space when dropped.
In examining the list of standard equipment, you'll ask the inevitable question: What more could anyone want? The A5 Coupe's Premium trim level includes 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seating surfaces, automatic climate control, Audi concert radio (with 10 speakers, Sirius Satellite Radio and 180 watts), power front seats and a panorama sunroof. On the S5, standard trim is dubbed Premium Plus and includes19-inch alloys, Bluetooth touch-free interface, sport seats covered in Silk Nappa leather, sport suspension and three-zone automatic climate control. With the exception of the A5 Cabriolet, all include Audi's quattro all-wheel drive in the base MSRP.
With so much standard, those features customers might opt for are (typically) encompassed in one of two packages. Premium Plus includes its own 10-spoke alloy wheel, Audi Music interface with iPod cable, Bluetooth hands-free phone interface, heated front seats, Xenon plus headlights and three-zone automatic climate control. On the S5 Coupe the upmarket trim is Prestige and includes DVD player, Bang & Olufsen premium sound, memory for driver seat and mirrors, navigation and voice control of nav/phone. Functionally, the biggest news is the availability of a sport rear differential on the S5, which varies the amount of torque delivered between the rear wheels.
As a base powerplant, Audi's superb 2.0 liter TFSI turbocharged four is almost perfect for the application, with adequate (211) horsepower and prodigious (258 pound-feet) levels of torque. As noted, we think the 3.0 liter supercharged V6 may be the sweet spot (S5 Cab only), with horsepower - 333 - close to that of the Coupe's V8 in a lighter, more efficient package. The S5 Coupe's 4.2 liter V8 may - at this point - seem old school, but behind the wheel of 354 horsepower, who's gonna care?
2.0-liter in-line 4 turbocharged
211 horsepower @ 4300-6000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1500-4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
21/31 (quattro manual), 21/29 (quattro Tiptronic), 22/30 (FWD, Multitronic)
3.0 liter V6 Supercharged
333 horsepower @ 5500-7000 rpm
325 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2900-5300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 (S tronic trans)
4.2 liter V8
354 horsepower @ 7000 rpm
325 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/22 (manual), 16/24 (Tiptronic)
By Badlander on Sunday, February 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks great, drives great, fun to drive."
Cons: "Makes BMWs look bad..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Love pretty much everything about my 2010 A5 Cabriolet. One of the most beautiful cars on the road, great handling, gas mileage. For me, perfect mix of sports car and luxury car. Not the fastest car in its class, but I am not looking for a race car. I just want to have fun when I am behind the wheel, be comfortable, and have the chicks dig me. All of these and more are accomplished with the A5!"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Gyro guy on Thursday, February 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Absolutely fun to drive, looks great."
Cons: "Poor Audi support, dealers very inconsistent."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought this car with 52,000 miles on it. In 11,000 miles of driving, oil usage went from 1qt./1800 miles to 1 qt./650 miles!! Audi stonewalled us until the usage hit 650 miles. Replaced pistons and rings under warranty. Discovered that the water pump was leaking during rebuild. Based on sludge buildup, had been leaking since we purchased, and this was a fully certified Audi! Cost us $85 deductible. Five days after getting the car back from rebuild, it sat out overnight in an all night rain. The next morning, the driver's seat was soaked, door pocket full of water, floor soaked. While driving, a pencil sized stream of water was running onto my left leg. Back in the shop, top adjusted and re-insulated. Three days after top adjustment, started losing coolant. Took car in, new water pump gasket had a low spot, had to be replaced. In less than six months of ownership, this car was in the shop 15% of the time we owned it. Our only salvation was that the 3rd Audi dealer we went to fixed everything, and treated us like their own customer. If they were located where we lived, might buy another Audi. Otherwise, wouldn't touch one again."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Inny on Saturday, December 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My 2011 Audi A-5 Cabriolet. After owning several BMW's I gave Audi a try 3 years ago. My original choice was based strictly on looks. Now after driving the Audi for 3 years not only is it the best looking car I have owned, but also the performance and handling are spectacular!"
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Dee on Saturday, September 14, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "F U N to drive and a real head turner"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car. I am constantly receiving compliments on it. I drove from Calif to NY and back last summer. The car was a pleasure to drive. I would keep it a lot longer except for needing a back seat with leg room...the only thing lacking in this car. The trunk is amazingly large...I can fit 12 grocery bags in it with no problem."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Audi Banker on Friday, July 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,600overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Ride, comfort, beauty"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"This car is amazing to drive, the B&O audio is wonderful but the Nav system is terrible. It has been in three times and it is yet to be fixed. The latest is a new software fix is coming but who knows when. They know about this issue as it happens in A4, A5 and Q5 because they have the same Nav system in them."
9 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By dc on Saturday, April 13, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "beautiful styling, great acceleration, great mpg"
Cons: "factory tires and back seat ingress and egress"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Every now and then a truly beautiful car is produced by someone.... The Jaguar XKE comes closest to this car...(I have owned 4 of them..) This is my second A5, it is a 2013. Last was a 2012. I buy a new car every year and put about $20,000 miles per year on them. It's a FABULOUS CAR! It exceeded my expectations for handling and acceleration and has averaged around 25mpg even though I red line it daily with a manual transmission! I do recommend the heated seats and I recommend you change the factory tires to a high speed tire with thicker side walls.. I bought Kumho tires and the handling is now UNREAL!"
10 people out of 11 found this review helpful