Audi A5 Coupe Review
The A5 has been Audi’s stylish small executive coupe since its introduction in 2007. The model formed part of the marque’s three-pronged new product reinvention which saw, alongside the A5, the introduction of the R8 supercar and the Q7 SUV.
The A5, along with those sibling models and, of course, the TT of the late 1990s and early 2000s, helped to give the marque the contemporary cool image it enjoys today. It’s not just an executive’s express, it’s a style statement, an object of desire, not just function.
Now into its second generation, the A5 coupe remains resolutely sharply styled compared to the at-times gawky alternatives from its German rivals. On sale since 2016, it’s also been facelifted recently, which means this generation of A5 will remain fresh until its expected replacement in 2025.
Select's rating score* - 3.8 / 5
At a glance
The A5 pulls off a very enviable trick. It’s much cheaper than its more exotic appearance would have you believe, especially when you look at monthly lease rates. Sharp scowling lights, broad taut haunches, carefully managed proportions and a lack of fuss betrays its humble underpinnings. It wouldn’t look cheap alongside Aston Martins and Porsches.
The reality however is that it is an A4-based affordable machine, with entirely ordinary engines and subsequently, running costs.
For many, it will be the best of both worlds, though the A5 has never been a celebrated driving enthusiast’s car.
The Audi A5 Coup majors on style over substance, but that’s no bad thing. The underpinnings are conventional enough - take off the bodywork and you’ll find an Audi A4 underneath - but that means there’s little to turn the A5 Coupe into something sporty.
Audi has gone the other way and majored in quality and refinement, and that’s where the A5 Coupe excels. While the cabin might not be the last word in modernity, it’s a near-perfect example of an uncluttered and easy to use design that’s oozing in quality.
It’s more than skin deep too, with a heft to the construction that you can feel.
The same holds true on the outside, at least until you move up the range to the S5 and RS% models. Until then, the A5 Coupe is an understated, crisp and clean design. It’s got a confidence about it that few rivals can match.
Performance & Drive
You might expect the Audi A5 Coupe to provide a more engaging, sporty drive than its A4 sibling, which it does to a degree, but it lacks the thrill of some rivals. The A5 Coupe holds the road well with little body roll in the corners - particularly with the sports suspension option - but it’s a rather detached experience.
Where the A5 Coupe excels is in a more laid back setting - the sports suspension on the S Line and Black Edition trim levels firms up the ride, and the Vorsprung trim gives the option to stiffen or soften the suspension as you require, but for increased comfort and value for money, stick to the entry-level Sport trim.
Audi has done a good job in terms of keeping road noise to a minimum within the cabin of the A5 Coupe. A rougher surface will increase road noise a little, but it only really becomes intrusive with the 20-inch alloys of the Black Edition and Vorsprung trim.
There are five engine choices available - three petrol and two diesel. The 150hp 2.0-litre petrol engine in the entry-level 35 TFSI model is a little underwhelming, taking a sluggish 9.1 seconds to reach 62mph. The 204hp 40 TFSI version gives more respectable results, with the increased power taking almost two seconds off the time without pushing running costs up too much.
There is also the more powerful 265hp 45 TFSI option, and while it does get to speed more rapidly, it doesn’t give that thrill behind the wheel.
The diesel engine choices consist of the 35 TDI and the 40 TDI, both of which are 2.0-litre units. The 35 TDI is front-wheel drive, with 163hp on offer, while the more powerful 40 TDI is four-wheel drive, and delivers its extra 41hp power pretty smoothly. For diesel engines, they are reasonably quiet but, as you’d expect, not as quiet as their petrol counterparts.
If you really want to shift, the S5 Coupe packs 341hp 3.0-litre diesel engine under the bonnet, alongside revised suspension and more sporty touches. It’s the quickest of the coupes and, while it’s still no sports car, makes for a heck of a machine to cruise across a continent in.
Go crazy and the RS5 Coupe delivers 450hp and supercar-rivalling performance. We’ve yet to drive this version, but we expect more of the same, but faster.
Being as far into its life as it is, there are no electrified variants of the second-generation A5. That makes it less appealing for company car users, who will suffer at least a 34% BIK rate for picking the cleanest A5.
Happily, for private buyers, the A5 retains a range of powerful yet efficient and relatively clean four-cylinder engines. That means most variants of the A5 won’t break the bank from tank to tank - especially as the diesel models promise as much as 58.9mpg.
Most A5 models will get past a list price of £42,000, incurring the highest road tax rates for the first few years of ownership. Being an Audi, associated servicing costs at dealers will be higher than for cars from other marques within the Volkswagen Group, too, although the three-year or 60,000-mile warranty cover will see most users through the period of their lease deal.
For the extremely emissions-conscious, the lack of a fully-fledged hybrid option in the A5 could be a turn-off. That said, excluding the more muscular S5 and RS 5 variants, the A5’s engine range is a relatively clean one. CO2 outputs generally range from 125g/km to 160g/km, until you start hitting the S5 and RS5 options - then the figures rise rapidly.
The Audi A5 Coupe provides the same level of quality we have come to expect from the German marque. All the touchpoints feel solid and well finished, and nothing seems overly complicated, thanks to the minimalist style it adopts.
Comfort is paramount, with fully adjustable seating positions for both the driver and passenger, as well as ample steering wheel adjustment so that the driver can find the optimum position to suit them.
While a Coupe isn’t ever going to be overendowed with space, the Audi A5 Coupe is surprisingly spacious. There is ample head and legroom in the front, and while taller rear passengers will fit, headroom here is a little more limited due to the swooping roofline.
The boot space is pretty competitive when compared to its rivals. At 465 litres, there’s more luggage capacity than in the BMW 4 Series Coupe and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe. The rear seats also fold with a 40/20/40 split, extending that still further.
Being a touch on the older side, the current A5 doesn’t feel the full benefits (or otherwise) of Audi’s rampant campaign of cabin digitisation. That means knobs and switches for your climate control, radio stations and volume, instead of dedicated touch screens - something that many, including your writer, see as a positive.
A lot of tech is also the preserve of higher specifications or relegated to the options list, though the basics are covered across every model. Even the entry-level Sport trim gets LED lighting all around in addition to a touch-sensitive infotainment screen with Audi’s clever MMI Navigation Plus and of course, the Virtual Cockpit.
This latter item is an attention-grabbing digital instrument panel that allows for lots of customisation and even the display of satellite imagery for navigation directly in front of the driver.
The Audi A5 coupe, together with the A4, received a five-star safety rating when tested by Euro NCAP in 2015. Adult occupant, child occupant, pedestrian and safety assist scores were a respective 89, 87, 75 and 75%, which is a very solid result if you were to see how harshly Euro NCAP judge their test cars.
Respectable scores though they are, it’s possible you’ll get a marginally sturdier and safer vehicle in the new BMW 4 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe.
In terms of safety tech, there are options to add. The full-on Vorsprung spec comes loaded with Audi’s Tour Driver Assistance Pack, which includes active lane and turn assist, efficiency assistant, adaptive cruise control, a camera-based traffic recognition system and more, but lower models miss out on some of the more desirable choices.
Speaking of cameras, Vorsprung also gets you a 360-degree camera, in addition to park assist and a head-up display.
It’s the top-end Vorsprung specification that will get you the snazzier tech. That said, lower trim levels can be specified with the ‘Comfort and Sound pack’, which adds the 360-degree camera, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, extended LED interior light pack and an advanced key for a relatively modest £1,395.
If you get any fanciful ideas regarding what colour your A5 should be, well, prepare to pay £2,400 for an Audi exclusive paint finish. Yikes.
As ever, navigate the spec of a new A5 cleverly and you should come out with a good amount of car for your money, but it’s easy to get carried away.
The segment in which the A5 joins itself is a well-known one. The newest model you can get at the moment is the BMW 4 Series; if you can suffer that grille, it should be a touch safer, offer newer tech and have more diverse and relevant powertrain options. The BMW is always the pick for keener drivers, too.
For those that want a bit more of an overtly luxurious feel, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe remains a fine choice. That said, like the Audi, it’s a touch long in the tooth. More so, in fact, to the point that a replacement is expected within the next 12 months.
The wild card? The Lexus RC. The cabin is beautifully trimmed but has a design and layout for those who miss their 1990s hi-fi. That’s me, incidentally…
There are some definite plus points with the Audi A5 Coupe but select the model carefully. With the right engine, it is in a similar monthly price bracket to the BMW 4 Series and the Mercedes C-Class Coupe.
As you move up the trim levels, you’ll find more aggressive styling and half-leather trim, as well as sports suspension, but once you get above the S line and Black Edition trim, the gains are minimal when gauged against the extravagant price tag of the Vorsprung model.
Whichever model you choose, you won’t end up with the engaging sports car you might expect. Instead, opt for the A5 Coupe if you want a grand tourer that will eat up the miles with ease, and in style.
Where to next?
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Audi A5
**Correct as of 20/04/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £3,142.71 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.