The 2018 Audi A5 is a welcome sight on what seems like a planet of crossovers. This premium compact car comes in coupe and convertible (referred to as cabriolet) forms, and is based on the fresh generation of A4 sedan that debuted last year. Styling-wise, it’s more of an evolution than a revolution, but Audi designs have an agreeable way of wearing the years well.
A new generation brings modern technology. While there’s nothing in the A5 that’s not available in other Audi vehicles, it does offer the Virtual Cockpit, which is the configurable driver information display that can show navigation, entertainment and the usual road-/engine-speed data; the learning curve is short and shallow. The A5 can also provide some advanced driving aids and something called "Exit Assist," which is a bit like blind spot monitoring, but which warns occupants if it’s unsafe to open the door — if there’s a cyclist approaching, for example.
The main problem with the old A5 was that it was low on power. This new model addresses the issue with a gutsy 252-hp engine. Thanks to all its style, comfort, quality, tech and driving manners, the all-new A5 is an incredibly pleasant method of getting around.
What’s New for 2018?
This generation of A5 is completely fresh for 2018.
What We Like
Elegant styling; top-class interior; refined driving dynamics; standard all-wheel drive
What We Don’t
The usual gripe with high-end German cars — pricey options; having to buy the top trim to access the driver-assistance features
The A5 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system is standard throughout the range. The main transmission is a 7-speed automatic, although a 6-speed manual is available in the coupe.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 24 miles per gallon in the city, 33 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg in combined driving in coupe form with the manual transmission, and 24 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined in coupe/convertible form with the automatic.
Standard Features & Options
The 4-seater 2018 Audi A5 comes in coupe and convertible (cabriolet) versions, and in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. The Sportback and S variants are all reviewed separately.
The Premium trim (coupe: $43,775; cabriolet: $50,475) has 18-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights/taillights, fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, heated windshield-washer nozzles, heated side mirrors, a panoramic sunroof (coupe only), a power-operated fabric roof (cabriolet only), keyless ignition, leather seating surfaces, tri-zone automatic climate control (rear passengers get their own controls), ambient LED cabin lighting, wood trim, drive-mode selection, 8-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side lumbar adjustment, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, forward-collision mitigation, a rearview camera, a self-dimming rearview mirror, a garage door opener, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, the Multi Media Interface (MMI) infotainment system with a 7-in display, and a 10-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input, two USB ports, two SD card slots, a CD player and HD Radio.
The Premium Plus (coupe: $49,475; cabriolet: $53,575) adds full LED headlights, heated front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, keyless entry, hands-free trunk release, self-dimming side mirrors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, Exit Assist, satellite radio and Audi Connect Care for emergency calls, stolen-vehicle location, roadside assistance and maintenance scheduling.
The Prestige (coupe: $51,375; cabriolet: $58,175) brings the 12.3-in Virtual Cockpit configurable driver information screen, a head-up display, navigation with handwriting recognition, an 8.3-in display, Wi-Fi, a Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker/755-watt audio system, parking sensors front and rear and a top-view display.
Most of the features in the higher trims are available as options in the lower trims. Other extras include ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, sport front seats, a sport suspension, a sport-calibrated rear differential and larger alloy wheels in 19- and 20-in sizes. The Prestige trim is also eligible for an adaptive suspension and a driver-assistance package that includes adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high beams and road-sign recognition.
Trunk space in the coupe measures a generous 12 cu ft. The rear seats split and fold along 40/20/40 lines for extra versatility. The cabriolet comes with 9 cu ft. of cargo space.
The Audi A5 comes with standard stability control and 4-wheel antilock disc brakes. The coupe has eight airbags (front, front-side, front-knee and side curtain), while the cabriolet has six airbags (front, front-knee and front-side). The cabriolet also comes with automatic pop-up rollover protection.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the 2018 A5 coupe a top overall rating of five stars, with four stars for front-impact protection and five for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has made the 2018 A5 coupe a Top Safety Pick+ after the car earned the top score of Good in all the major categories.
Behind the Wheel
It might be surprising to some, but rear seat space is pretty good for a 2-door car. If there’s an adult male of average size in the driver’s seat, an identically sized human will fit in the seat behind and not find any grounds for complaint. The front seats themselves feel somewhat firm at first, but soon become more comfortable as the miles pass. Cabin quality is sufficiently upscale, while the interior design is unfussy and well-thought-out.
The driving sensations don’t "shout." They’re at a level where it takes some conscious effort to hone in on them. But the upside is that the car can be relaxing when the mood dictates. The A5 goes about its business with a low-profile efficiency, displaying a subtle spark of mischief should the driver find some interesting roads.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 BMW 4 Series — Available as a coupe or a convertible with a retractable hardtop.
2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class — The coupe and cabriolet variants of the current C-Class are both excellent.
2018 Lexus RC — Only available as a coupe right now, but comes with plenty of standard equipment and top-notch build quality.
Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe/cabriolet — The models from this previous generation of E-Class have their own kind of timeless styling, as well as a choice of bigger engines. Check out the Mercedes-Benz certified pre-owned (CPO) program.
The surest bet is the Premium Plus model, then spending the extra for the Virtual Cockpit. This trim comes with blind spot monitoring, which is especially useful in the cabriolet when the roof is up.