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In this ongoing series, Boston.com talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.
2018 Audi A5
In a world that’s gone crazy for crossovers, the new Audi A5 shows that sports coupes are still kicking. Redesigned for the 2018 model year, the comely A5 — also available as a convertible — begins its second generation with more power, Audi’s latest infotainment interface, and a new “five-door coupe” version, called the Sportback, that’s meant to expand the nameplate’s appeal and attract buyers seeking a dose of utility as traditional coupes and convertibles continue to lose market share.
The four-seater identifies as part of a growing cadre of all-wheel-drive coupes and convertibles. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system comes standard and complements the A5’s peppy powertrain: a 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. (The coupe offers an optional six-speed manual transmission.) Acceleration is smooth and confident, but true thrill seekers may prefer the A5’s higher-performance S5 variant, which gets a 354-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The car comes with four drives modes: comfort, auto, dynamic, and an individual setting that can be customized based on the driver’s preferences.
Inside, the A5 features leather upholstery, aluminum trim, and a wraparound dashboard proudly bearing Audi’s optional Virtual Cockpit, a digital instrument cluster with a 12.3-inch display and Audi’s MMI infotainment interface that can be controlled via touchscreen, buttons, and handwriting-recognition technology. Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a pair of USB ports come standard.
The A5 has not been rated for crashworthiness by either of the two federal safety ratings agencies. All models are equipped with Audi’s pre-sense basic and city safety systems, which include pedestrian detection and forward collision warning. Upper trims can be equipped with a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and reverse traffic detection. The A5 delivers 24 miles per gallon around town and 34 mpg on the highway.
The A5 coupe and cabriolet start at $42,800 and $49,600, respectively. The Sportback starts at $42,600.
What the experts say
“When the Audi A5 debuted a decade ago, it was arguably the best looking four-seat coupe on the market. I remember describing Walter de Silva’s home run as ‘fist-bitingly pretty.’ Well, the second-generation version of the A5 just ain’t as lovely. Sorry! However, it’s a much better car. Starting with the engine, the A5 actually feels powerful: Thanks to a feisty 252-horsepower engine, you might find yourself questioning the need for the more potent, and more pricey, 333-horsepower S5 variant. The best part of the new A5, however, is the interior. Once more, Audi is leading the way (or co-leading if the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has anything to say about it) in terms of cabin-quality. The materials, the ergonomics, and the switchgear are all top shelf — and I haven’t even mentioned the best part: Virtual Cockpit. All of the A5’s gauges are in fact a wide TFT screen. Imagine navigating to where you are going with Google Earth images right in front of your eyes. Imagine no more. Oh yeah, and the new A5 drives pretty damn well, too.” – Jonny Lieberman, senior features editor at Motor Trend
“For a car that retains a familiar silhouette, closer inspection reveals that the 2018 Audi A5 coupe is greatly changed with a lower nose, more aggressive stance, and big changes to the interior that includes the use of Audi’s virtual cockpit. That technology means much larger displays — a new center screen dominates the middle of the dash and borders on being almost outsized for the car. But the tech itself is really cool, allowing you to configure the layout, moving the navigation map, for instance, into the instrument cluster in front of you. But there’s more to the A5 coupe than whiz-bang technology. The 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder pumps out 252 horsepower — it’s more than enough to make this tidy coupe seem light on its feet. Audi prides itself on building cars that are technically advanced and fun to drive. The A5 Coupe fits that philosophy to a T.” – Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor at KBB.com
“The launch of the new Audi A5 has been a success, despite the market moving from sedans to SUVs. This is a testament to the car’s intriguing design and functionality. Audi introduced a Sportback version of the car, which offers up a more utilitarian vehicle than the standard A5 coupe. It has much of the same convenience as the A7, with a lower price point and in a smaller package, which will be attractive to those buyers who want the flexibility of an SUV, but do not want to sacrifice sporty looks and handling. As the car is the latest from Audi, it has all of the latest driver convenience and safety options as well as the virtual cockpit. The electronics offerings from Audi have really moved them to best in class. People have really responded positively to the updates brought to the car while remaining very reasonably priced.” – George Chambers, executive general manager, Audi Brookline and Audi Burlington