2018 Audi A5 Review: Getting Pretty Close To Faultless
– Detroit, Michigan
It’s easy for coupes in this segment to veer too far to either end of the sportiness-luxuriousness spectrum. Where some of its rivals can be too aggressive or too plush, the new Audi A5 manages to dish up equal servings of both characteristics. It never punishes over rough terrain, nor does it disappoint when I dial up the tempo on the way home from the airport. Ultimately, the A5 just does exactly what I want, when I want, with no fuss. It is, like every A5 I’ve driven before it, a terrifically well-rounded machine.
Sharp design. The new Audi A5 looks great – ignore the haters who say it’s too similar to the outgoing model. Sharp creases tidily break up the curvy bodywork, and there’s a very modern, purposeful stance to this car from all directions. My favorite of the three German coupes in this segment, the Audi is at the same time more handsome than the BMW 4 Series, while also more expressive than the beautiful-but-conservative Mercedes C-Class Coupe.
Sleek interior. The same goes for the inside, where I appreciate that the Audi’s cabin is stylish yet uncomplicated. It manages to look very premium, with nice wood and chrome trim pieces, while not distracting from the task of actually using the car. Every switch, button, and display you need is easy to reach and simple to use. There’s no technology overload here, even though there are plenty of high-tech features on board.
First-rate technology. Audi not only puts lots of infotainment technology into its cars, it makes using that tech easy. Virtual Cockpit, part of the $7,600 Prestige package on this $55,300 car, provides reams of information in a clear format, right in front of the driver. The bright, crisp, full-color 12.3-inch screen (in place of a traditional instrument cluster) can be reconfigured to show a massive satellite map, radio presets, or any other information needed while on the move. Better still, operating it via the small steering wheel controls takes almost no learning curve and never requires removing your hands from the wheel.
It drives well, too. The A5 is effortless, and you don’t have to think about driving it in most circumstances. The strong turbocharged 2.0-liter engine always has gobs of power, while its attendant dual-clutch transmission that shifts imperceptibly. Meanwhile light, quick steering allows for a laid-back driving experience, whether navigating a busy parking lot or on a highly trafficked freeway.
Dull steering. Though the A5’s electrically assisted steering is pleasant and precise in its operation, I really wish it weren’t so devoid of feedback and feel. Is the road crowned or bumpy? Are the front tires running out of grip? You’ll never know from holding the three-spoke wheel. It’s a shame given that the chassis is otherwise responsive and eager.
Fixed center screen. As if you needed more proof that my gripes with the new A5 are but minor quibbles, consider this: On older Audis, you could push a button to stow the infotainment screen. You can’t do that anymore on this A5, which is a shame, since I found it especially useful at night when you wanted to dim the cabin.
Photos: Jake Holmes / Motor1.com