Premium German car brands have always had a thing for coupes, so much so they collectively invented the four-door coupe – which clearly doesn’t make any sense.
But to buyers who wanted to mix practicality with an overtly sporty sedan thought they made perfect sense.
That’s not to say the traditional two-door coupe or cabriole is dead and buried. Far from it. Take the latest Audi A5 range comprising Coupe, Sportback and Cabriolet body styles.
It’s still only in its second generation but with new-look sheet metal, Audi’s latest MMI tech, and wonderfully refined four-pot engines with mild-hybrid tech under the bonnet, it’s bound to turn plenty of white-collar heads.
Think of the new Audi A5 as the sporty sister to the freshly facelifted A4 and you get the picture.
If your eyes are drawn to the Audi A5 it’s form you value over function. But then you could argue there’s no better bag carrier than an A5 Sportback with its massive boot aperture and auto-opening tailgate.
Just like the latest A4 range, the new A5 hits the aesthetic mark with a wider, lower single frame grille with honeycomb insert and ventilation slots above as a nod to the legendary Sport Quattro from 1984. Tick.
Unlike the A4 range which gets standard LED headlights, the A5 steps up with matrix LEDs and dynamic indicators for a more contemporary look. Same goes for the rear.
There’s the added benefit of the S line exterior package across the entire A5 range as well as new front and rear bumpers with bigger intakes and larger diffuser, as well as some chrome exhaust tips that somehow give the A5 range a classy but equally masculine stance.
Just when you thought Audi was going to simplify things for what is still a niche model by offering three variants in a single 45 TFSI Quattro S line spec, it’s gone and added both a 140kW engine to the 183kW motor to the mix – so there’s still six Audi A5 variants to choose from.
The range kicks off with the entry A5 Coupe 40 TFSI S line (say that fast a few times) and the A5 Sportback 40 TFSI S line, both priced at $71,900 before on-road costs.
Both use a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four making 140kW of power and 320Nm, driving the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Those buyers who favour wet-weather grip will need to step up to either the Audi A5 Sportback 45 TFSI Quattro S line or A5 Coupe 45 TFSI Quattro S line priced from $79,900 before on-roads.
These more potent variants share the same 2.0-litre turbo four petrol engine good for 183kW and 370Nm, this time going to all four wheels via the same seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
The Cabriolet line-up starts with the $85,400 40 TFSI S line. Like its fixed-roof siblings, it’s powered by the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo sending 140kW and 320Nm through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox to the front axle exclusively.
The range-topper is the A5 45 TFSI Quattro S line, priced from $93,400 before on-roads. Under the bonnet is the same 2.0-litre turbo four producing 183kW and 370Nm, sent to all four wheels by Audi’s seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
While every attempt was made to cycle through all three body styles and both engine variants in the A5 range, we only got to experience the Sportback 45 TFSI Quattro S line and Cabriolet 45 TFSI Quattro S line, missing out on the Coupe and less-powerful 40 TFSI, which wasn’t available to drive on the local launch.
While the 40 TFSI might make less power and torque, it does get a stack of standard kit including 19-inch alloy wheels, matrix LED headlights with dynamic cornering lights, a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster, a 10-speaker sound system, a reversing camera with parking sensors, and proximity entry and start.
Additionally, there’s wireless phone charging, powered tailgate (Sportback), powered front seats with lumbar, driver’s seat memory, leather upholstery, three-zone climate control, ambient lighting, auto headlights and wipers, a 10.1-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB radio, satellite navigation, and a head-up display.
It’s a comprehensive inventory to say the least – moving on up to the 45 TFSI specification only adds a flat-bottomed sports leather steering wheel and different alloy wheels.
Cabriolet buyers get an electrically-operated acoustic roof which can be opened at speeds up to 50km/h in 15 seconds and closed in 18 seconds, as well as a few other features exclusive to open-top touring.
On cooler days you’ll likely appreciate the built-in neck warmers in the front seats, which are also heated. There’s also an array of cleverly-mounted microphones on the seatbelts for decent clarity when using the phone with the roof lowered.
Despite the comprehensive equipment list for the A5 range, buyers of the Coupe and Sportback variants can still option the Premium Plus package from $4769.
It adds a raft of premium kit like a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D audio system, matrix LED headlights with laser lights, a panoramic sunroof, and a colour head-up display.
There’s also the S line Sport package from $4808 which adds 20-inch alloy wheels, fine Nappa leather upholstery with S embossing on the headrests, an S line flat-bottomed steering wheel, and stainless-steel pedals.
Interestingly, you can’t get the Carbon and Black package on the 40 TFSI A5 Coupe, Sportback or Cabriolet. For the 45 TFSI variants it’s priced at $3500.
Of the nine exterior colours available for the new A5, only Ibis White is offered as a no-cost option. The eight other colours cost $1990.
Based on Euro NCAP testing conducted in 2015 of the related A4, the Audi A5 gets an ANCAP rating of five stars The A5 Cabriolet hasn’t been tested.
The five-star rating was based on an adult occupant protection score of 89 per cent, child occupant protection score of 87 per cent, vulnerable road user protection score of 75 per cent and a safety assist score of 75 per cent.
All 2020 Audi A5 models come standard with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, as well as lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, an active bonnet, and an exit warning system.
Additionally, there’s a 360-degree camera using four wide-angle cameras, adaptive cruise control with stop/go including traffic jam assist, and active park assist.
Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than the Audi A5 Sportback 45 TFSI’s cabin, bearing in mind the price point. The combination of fine Nappa leather, new tech with crystal-clear displays, and a largely uncluttered cockpit that makes this a very pleasant place to spend time.
The upholstery is supple to the touch and the sports seats offer a good balance between armchair comfort and sufficient levels of bolstering to allow a full corner-carving charge without unwanted movement or discomfort.
There’s plenty of space (front and rear elbow- and legroom) throughout – no surprise really, as the Sportback is the longest and tallest of the A5 variants, though it loses nothing in its sporty stance.
There’s even more versatility when it comes to luggage space with 480 litres behind the rear seats, expanding to 1280 litres when folded. It beats the Coupe’s 450 litres and the Cabriolet’s 375 litres.
Don’t bother hoping in the rear seats of the Cabrio unless you’re under 10 years old, but legroom is plentiful if you’re little.
Standard fitment in the A5 Sportback are aluminium inlays but our tester was equipped with the S line sport package matte brushed aluminium, none of which measures up to the rest of the cabin. It’s far too bright for that.
Instead, take a look at the real carbon twill (by far the best look for these Audis), or the superb look and feel of the natural grey oak inlays in our A5 Cabriolet 45 TFSI.
2020 Audi A5 40 TFSI models get a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with a 12V mild-hybrid system. It produces 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque, paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Audi claims 0-100km/h times of 7.3-, 7.5- and 7.9 seconds for the Coupe, Sportback and Cabriolet respectively.
The A5 45 TFSI also uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine in a higher state of tune with a 12V mild-hybrid system and a seven-speed dual-clutch. It produces 183kW of power and 370Nm of torque.
Audi claims 0-100km/h times of 5.8-, 6.0-, and 6.5 seconds for the Coupe, Sportback and Cabriolet respectively.
It’s odd, but the only car we drove on the A4/A5 launch program fitted with adaptive dampers was the Sportback 45 TSFI Quattro S line. The rest of the testers were equipped with fixed suspension and there were no complaints from me.
Interestingly, the road conditions at the time were favourable to having a bit of a crack up a decent twisty hill climb, so I started the drive in Dynamic for least body roll and maximum stiffness in the dampers.
Even so, ride was still relatively compliant, and believe me when I tell you this wasn’t the smoothest tarmac. We hit some bumps at speed and yet the car was utterly settled, even while on the throttle mid-corner.
It’s genuinely impressive, as is the get-up-and-go of this more spirited powertrain. There’s genuine enjoyment to be had with this car when conditions permit, despite the fact it tips the scales at 1645kg.
You can still throw it around like a small hatch, especially using the paddle shifters in manual mode. Good fun.
Mind, on the open road and cruising at 100-110km/h the sheer refinement of this A5 is spectacular. At these speeds the engine is barely ticking over, beautifully refined, and whisper quiet. Only when you have cause to jam on the throttle while entering a highway does the engine find its true voice with a bit of a growl.
There’s also more steering feel than ever before – I could actually feel what the front wheels were doing when I was pushing in the tighter stuff. I don’t recall that being the case the last time I drove an A5.
Hopping into the A5 Cabriolet 45 TFSI in Navara Blue Metallic was a treat. The deep blue paintwork and contrast beige leather upholstery is a great look.
Dynamically, I wasn’t expecting much. Memories of my time behind the wheel of an S4 Cabriolet back in the day when they still used a 4.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8 were dulled by its complete lack of rigidity.
It was riddled with scuttle shake even over decent roads, so minor bumps would have the chassis flexing like a rubber band. And this from the high-powered S4. So disappointing given how good the sedan was.
Worse still, my turn to jump in the car came just in time for another highly spirited back road hoot following a Coupe and Sportback that seemed to be in a bit of a hurry. I started out with the roof up (it was a bit windy) and shoved it into manual mode. This was a tight fast-flowing and undulating section of road with a ton of bumps.
I’m surprised at how little turbo lag there is with this engine. I don’t recall ever thinking about it being an issue throughout the entire day’s testing.
Never mind the scuttle shake (there’s little if any with the roof up, and it’s marginal when lowered), this is an excellent chassis, stiff enough to go toe-to-toe with sportier A5s in the twisty stuff and with that same level of refinement we liked in the Sportback.
Perhaps the bumps were felt slightly more through the cabin but there’s not much in it. Moreover, the Cabriolet changes direction quickly with solid poise even when pushed.
Eventually it was time to drop the roof and enjoy some sun. It’s easy to forget how nice it is to drive a convertible.
Audi claims 6.4L/100km for the A5 40 TFSI on the combined cycle in the Coupe, 6.5L/100km in the Sportback, and 6.7L/100km in the Cabriolet.
The A5 45 TFSI consumes 7.1L/100km in both the Coupe and the Sportback, and 7.4L/100km in the Cabriolet.
That said, we’ll need to get the cars back through the garage for real-world consumption and clarification of the factory claims.
Unlike Mercedes-Benz who has moved to a five-year factory warranty, both Audi and BMW are still maintaining a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty on new cars.
Audi offers both a three-year and a five-year servicing plan for all A5 variants, priced at $1800 and $2820 respectively.
There’s no question in my mind that with the new Audi A4 and A5 range of cars, Audi is starting to find its mojo again.
Beautifully proportioned, perfectly powered, and with first-class cabins, the new coupe, drop-top, and five-door should be enough to sway more than a few buyers.