2018 Audi A5 Buying Advice
This is the “personal luxury” coupe for you if you’re looking for style, substance, and sportiness in a two-door four-seater.
Model-year 2018 marks the debut of the redesigned second-generation A5. Like its predecessor, the new car borrows many elements of its exterior design and underskin engineering from Audi’s A4 premium-compact sedan. Coupe and Cabriolet convertible body styles return in both A5 and higher-performance S5 guise. Audi also fields a five-passenger four-door hatchback version called the A5 Sportback. This report focuses on the A5 Coupe.
The A5 and S5 coupes debuted in 2007, followed by two-door soft-top convertibles in 2009, and an ultra-performance RS 5 coupe in 2012. Then as now, these cars were Audi’s answer to the popular 3 Series and M3 coupes and convertibles from fellow German automaker BMW, as well as Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class coupe and convertible and their performance AMG iterations.
The redesigned A5 is a hit with buyers. Sales are up more than 300 percent in calendar 2017. It’s outselling the Cadillac ATS, Lexus RC, and Infiniti Q60 coupes by more than 3-1, and it’s not far behind the segment-leading BMW 4 Series.
Should you buy a 2018 model or wait for the ’19?
Get the ’18 as it has up-to-date styling, technology, and safety features. The only thing you might miss is availability of a V-6 engine, at least in the A5. These models are four-cylinder only. The only way to get a six now requires purchasing the S5.
Styling: To get an idea of the styling differences between the previous-generation and current A5, you almost need to see the two cars side-by-side. Its general profile remains the same as its predecessor, but the 2018 edition is lower and wider. Its front end mimics the A4 sedan, with an expansive “Singleframe” grille and accentuated hood lines. LED daytime running lights are standard, with uplevel models gaining full LED headlights. The optional S line Sport Package includes unique wheels and bumpers, along with identifying badging. The A5’s overall design exudes sophistication. Nothing appears out of place, and this is a car that will continue to look good many years in the future.
The interior sees more substantial changes. It falls in line with other recently redesigned Audi vehicles, including the A4 and Q5 crossover. Materials quality is excellent, as we’ve come to expect from the brand. The standard aluminum trim has a visually pleasing texture, while the available genuine walnut or oak inlays add an extra dose of country-club opulence.
Audi continues to make strides in terms of in-vehicle connectivity and ergonomics. All models come standard with Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto support. The A5’s climate controls are simple to use and more logically arrayed than in its predecessor. Imbedded GPS navigation is standard on the Prestige and optional on the Premium and Premium Plus. It includes the latest (and best) iteration of Audi’s MultiMedia Interface (MMI). The layout is intuitive, and the system responds quickly to user inputs. If we had to ding it on something, it would be that the 8.3-inch dashboard screen looks a bit small, especially since larger ones are available from BMW and Lexus.
We have mixed feelings about the Audi Virtual Cockpit, which is included on the Prestige and navigation-equipped Premium and Premium Plus models. On one hand, it’s a neat bit of technology that allows drivers to customize the instrument display, including redundant readouts of audio and navigation data. On the other, if the system fails, you’re left with nothing except what will probably be a very expensive bill should that happen out of warranty.
You won’t hear any complaints from us about the comfort of the front seats. They’re supportive enough to hold you in place during enthusiastic driving but not so much that they feel confining. Legroom is plentiful, but headroom is lacking unless you put the seats to the floor. The rear seats can accommodate a child booster, and those tykes will be about the only ones who will have any semblance of room. There’s little head clearance, and legroom is very tight, but this is something you should expect given the type of car this is.
Coupes have a class-competitive 11.6 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than the Lexus RC’s 10.4 but less than the 15.7 in the BMW 4 Series. This shrinks to 9.3 cubic feet in the convertible with the top up and just 7.2 with it lowered. Interior storage isn’t great. The glovebox is about average size, while the center console is shallow and narrow. The cupholders are too far forward on the console, located almost directly below the climate controls, which will limit the height of beverages you may want to put there.
Mechanical: All 2018 A5 models get a high-output version of parent-company Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. In this application, it produces 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. With power going to all four wheels, Audi says the coupe will do 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds with the standard 6-speed manual transmission and 5.6 with the no-extra-cost 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Convertibles are heavier and automatic only, and thus will take 6.0 seconds to perform the 0-60 sprint.
S5 models employ a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 with 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque mated to a conventional 8-speed automatic transmission. Coupe and convertible versions of this car are capable of 0-60 acceleration of less than 5.0 seconds. Note that we have not yet evaluated an A5 convertible or S5.
In our experience, the automatic A5 coupe doesn’t feel quite as fast as Audi’s claim. It takes about half a car length for the turbocharger to spool up and provide the expected rush of power. Despite Audi’s best efforts to make the motor sound sporty, it comes up short of the V-6 burble produced by the likes of the 4 Series, RC 350, and Q60.
VW/Audi builds some of the best dual-clutch gearboxes in the business, and the A5’s works very well. The only time it seems to get confused is when you floor the throttle from steady speeds between 25 and 40 mph. Using the manual overrides via the floor shifter or steering wheel paddles helps.
Steering feel is a touch numb on center at low speeds, but it firms up nicely at cruise. Quattro AWD delivers reassuring handling that gets even better with the sport suspension included on the S line package. Surprisingly, the firmer suspension doesn’t exact a significant penalty on ride quality, even with the low-profile 19-inch wheels that are available in place of standard 18s on the Premium Plus and Prestige. It’s quite firm, but the body structure is very solid, so there’s little in the way of unwanted secondary motions when traversing bumpy pavement.
Summer-only performance tires are a no-cost option in place of all-season treads. Even if you stick with the all-seasons, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to invest in a set of dedicated snow tires if you live in such a climate. An A5 so equipped can put some SUVs to shame on wintery roads.
Features: Standard equipment on the 2018 Audi A5 Premium includes leather upholstery, power front seats, three-zone automatic climate control, panoramic sunroof, CarPlay and Android Auto, pushbutton ignition, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
Premium Plus grades add blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic detection, Audi connect telematics, full LED headlights, keyless entry with hands-free trunk release, and heated front seats with two-position driver-seat memory.
The Prestige gains imbedded navigation with Audi Virtual Cockpit, high-output Bang & Olufsen audio system with 19 speakers, front- and rear-obstacle detection, surround-view camera, and a six-month complimentary subscription to Audi connect Prime and Audi connect Plus telematics.
A5 plays right in the heart of the personal luxury car market. The Premium coupe starts at $43,775, the Premium Plus coupe at $46,775, and the Prestige coupe at $51,375. Convertibles are significantly costlier, with the Premium starting at $50,575, the Premium Plus at $53,575, and the Prestige at $58,175. (All base prices listed here include Audi’s $975 destination fee.)
Paint colors other than black or white are an extra $575, or $3,900 if you want Audi to create a unique hue to your specific taste. The S line Sport Package is $1,250, with summer tires offered at no additional cost.
On the Premium, the $3,000 Navigation and Telematics Package adds built-in GPS mapping with MMI infotainment interface, Virtual Cockpit, and Audi connect Care, Prime, and Plus telematics. The $900 Convenience Package nets driver-seat memory, keyless access, heated exterior mirrors, and satellite radio. Heated front seats are $500.
Navigation, MMI, Virtual Cockpit, and Audi Prime and Plus connectivity are part of the $2,600 Navigation Package for the Premium Plus. Bang & Olufsen audio is $950.
The Premium Plus and Prestige offer ventilated front seats for $800 by themselves or as part of a $1,300 Warm Weather Package that adds sport bucket seats with four-way power lumbar adjustment. Ordering the S line package on these models opens access to unique 19-inch wheel designs for $800 or $1,050. A heated steering wheel is $200.
Unique to the Prestige is the $1,800 Driver Assistance Package that includes radar-based adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist with automatic steering correction, automatic high-beam headlights, and traffic-sign recognition. An adaptive suspension is $1,000 on this model.
With a sticker price of $53,150, an A5 Premium Plus coupe with navigation and S line packages, 19-inch “5-arm-star” wheels, Bang & Olufsen audio, and heated steering wheel is our pick for best value. We wish Audi would reconsider its position on driver-assistance features by making things like adaptive cruise and automatic steering correction standard across the board, rather than only as part of a pricey option package on the most expensive trim level.
A5 puts up respectable fuel-economy ratings of 24/33/27 mpg city/highway/combined with manual transmission and 24/34/27 with the automatic, according to the EPA. Despite weighing some 400 pounds more than the coupe, the convertible earns the same ratings. All models include engine idle stop/start that shuts off the motor at a stop and restarts it when the driver releases their foot from the brake pedal. The restart process isn’t entirely smooth, but it works better than BMW’s implementation.
Audi requires premium-grade 91-octane gasoline.
As 2018 is the inaugural year for the second-generation A5, we expect the near future to be relatively quiet for this line of coupes and convertibles. We hope Audi will at least make driver-assistance features available, if not standard, across all trim levels for 2019. The last-generation A5 was on the road for a decade, so if this pattern holds, the A5’s mid-cycle refresh won’t happen until model-year 2023. At that time, we may see Audi add a battery-powered electric motor to the drivetrain, which would boost horsepower and fuel economy. Parent-company Volkswagen is rumored to be developing such a system for its next-generation Golf GTI sporty car, which is slated for a model-year 2020 debut. As such, it’s likely the technology could make its way to other Volkswagen Group products.
The 2018 A5 is better than the…
BMW 4 Series, which slightly lags the A5 for looks and overall driving enjoyment, all while having the potential to cost a lot more. Lexus RC, though it’s available with a V-6, its exterior design isn’t as striking, nor is its infotainment system as slick as the Audi’s. Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe, which is costlier and at least on paper, little faster than the A5 despite having two more cylinders and more than 70 extra horsepower.
The 2018 A5 is not as good as the…
BMW 2 Series, which is some of the most fun you can have behind the wheel of a car that carries a starting price of less than $40,000. Infiniti Q60, the flagship Red Sport model of which comes with a thumping 400-horsepower V-6 engine for not much more money than the four-cylinder A5 Prestige. Jaguar F-TYPE, costlier than the A5, yes, but it’s the only vehicle that rivals the Audi for looks, plus its standard four-cylinder engine is more powerful and sounds far better.