2018 Audi A4 vs. 2018 Audi A5: Head to Head

A4 vs. A5: Which Is Right for You?

Audi has become a leader in the luxury small car segment. Its A4 sedan and A5 coupe consistently top the rankings for their performance, interior luxury, and overall value.

Redesigned for the 2017 model year, the five-passenger Audi A4’s elegant design, dynamic performance, and interior technology conspire to make a fine daily driver that’s also easy to maneuver and park. Last year when it was new, it won our 2017 Best Luxury Small Car for the Money award.

The flashier, more expensive Audi A5 coupe underwent a full redesign for 2018, earning it the No. 1 spot in our luxury small car rankings. With room for four or five occupants, the A5 features a choice of powerful engines, a new interior, and an all-new four-door hatchback variant, the A5 Sportback.

Read ahead to see how the Audi A4 sedan and Audi A5 coupe compare when it comes to performance, features, and value. 

Price

Winner: 2018 Audi A4

The Audi A4 sedan starts at $36,000. The sedan boasts an extensive list of standard features, from heated front seats to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It comes in three trims, with the topmost Prestige pushing $50,000 when equipped with all-wheel drive. The A4 also comes in two high-performance S badge variants: the $51,400 Premium Plus and the $55,800 Prestige.

Starting at $42,600, the Audi A5’s price is one of the highest in its class. Like the A4, the A5 comes in three trims and two high-performance S variants, which start at $54,600. Both the A5 and the S5 also come as cabriolets, starting at $49,600 and $62,300, respectively. A fully loaded S5 cabriolet tops out in the high $60,000s, which is more expensive than the highest trims of many competitors.

Reliability

Winner: Inconclusive

Neither of the 2018 models have been evaluated for reliability. The 2017 Audi A4 earned a predicted reliability rating of three out of five and the 2017 Audi A5 earned a 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power and Associates, putting them toward the middle of the pack. However, because the 2018 A5 was completely redesigned, we can’t call a true winner based on 2017 reliability data.

Audi backs both cars with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty. 

Seat Comfort

Winner: 2018 Audi A4

Both cars come with standard leather upholstery and optional front sport seats with side bolsters to add extra support. Heated front seats are standard in the A4 and can be added to the A5. Ventilated front seats and heated rear seats are available in both models.

As a sedan, the A4 offers a more spacious rear seat than the A5 coupe, with additional head- and legroom for adults. However, the new four-door A5 Sportback model has competitive rear-seat space.

Cargo Space

Winner: 2018 Audi A5

The A4’s trunk measures 13 cubic feet, which is average for the class. However, its wide opening and the split-folding make the loading process smoother.

The A5 coupe gets 11.6 cubic feet of trunk space, while cabriolet models supply 9.3, making luggage a tight fit. However, considering the A5 Sportback has a massive 21-cubic-foot hatchback, we'll call this a draw.

Interior Quality

Winner: Tie

Both nameplates’ quiet, sophisticated cabins serve as benchmarks in the luxury small car segment. Their upscale styling features top-notch materials, including leather and wood trim and standard aluminum inlays. 

Interior Features

Winner: Tie

The Audi brand earns high marks for its easy-to-use standard MMI infotainment system and optional virtual cockpit digital display. The MMI interface, which comes with a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and voice command capability, comes standard in both small cars.

Buyers of either model can upgrade to navigation and an enhanced MMI system with an 8.3-inch screen and a trackpad that recognizes handwriting. Audi’s virtual cockpit, which features a 12.3-inch screen that can be customized to show different driving metrics, is also available in either model. If you truly want the latest in infotainment tech, you can also add a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system and Audi Connect, which provides built-in Wi-Fi that connects up to eight devices.

Engine

Winner: 2018 Audi A5

The A4 and A5 feature similar powertrains.

The standard configuration for the A5 is a 252-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission. The A4 comes standard with a 190-horsepower version of that engine. You can upgrade the A4’s standard powertrain to 252 horsepower, and all-wheel drive comes standard. Opt for the S variant of either car and you’ll get an upgraded 354-horsepower V6 and a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.

Both cars provide lively acceleration, but you will have to upgrade the A4 to match the A5’s standard performance.  

Fuel economy

Winner: Tie

The Audi A4’s base model delivers 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Those numbers fall to 24 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway when you upgrade to the 252-horsepower engine. The S variant gets even worse fuel economy, at 21 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway.

The A5 gets 24 mpg around town and 34 on the highway. Fuel economy falls to 21/30 city/ highway for high-performance S5 models.

Although the base A4 earns better fuel economy than the base A5, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. When you put the 252-horsepower variants head to head, the A4 and A5 earn the same fuel economy. 

Handling

Winner: 2018 Audi A5

Both models stand out in the luxury small car segment for their sporty performance, engaging driving dynamics, and poised handling. However, reviewers note that steering in both models can feel a bit numb under certain conditions.

A perennial favorite in the segment, the Audi A4 delivers sharp handling, especially when equipped with all-wheel drive, which offers more grip and stability on winding roads.

Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system comes standard on the A5, so the coupe gets excellent grip on any type of pavement. Its sport suspension provides additional agility.

Safety

Winner: Tie

Both cars come with stellar safety ratings and a long list of standard and available advanced driver assistance features. All A4 and A5 models are equipped with a rearview camera, the Audi Pre Sense Basic collision-mitigation system, and the Audi Pre Sense City system with forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection.

Buyers can add additional features, including adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera system, front and rear parking sensors, and lane keep assist.

Both cars earn a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Critics’ Rating

Winner: 2018 Audi A5

The A5 and A4 are both critics favorites. However, the A5 pulls ahead. According to critics, you can’t do better than the A5. It’s fun to drive, luxurious, and practical as a daily driver. Critics think it comes out on top compared to nearly every rival.

The A4 is well-reviewed but is bested by some rivals, according to critics. It’s fun to drive and luxurious, but critics think competitors like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series offer a bit more.   

The Winner Is ...

2018 Audi A5

Audi’s A4 sedan and A5 coupe share similar personalities – they’re built on the same platform, feature the same upscale interiors, and boast similar reliability and safety scores.

The A4 features a larger trunk, more second-row passenger space, and standard heated front seats, but the smaller, more nimble coupe bests it when it comes to performance and handling, and it is more popular among automotive journalists.

Ultimately, the critics’ ratings are what put the A5 ahead. According to automotive journalists, there isn’t a better luxury small car out there. With the new Sportback model, you don’t even need to settle for two doors if you want the A5.