What's New for 2009
The 2009 Audi A5 sports a standard auxiliary input jack, and the newly optional Audi Drive Select package includes an electronically adjustable suspension and a variable-ratio steering system. In other news, adaptive cruise control and a blind-spot warning system are now available.
If you're in the market for a luxury sport coupe and your primary goal is to stand out from the crowd, look no further than the curvaceous 2009 Audi A5. This is a car whose luscious lines will quicken the pulse of even the most jaded valet. And unlike rival models sporting blue-and-white propeller badges and three-pointed stars, an A5 can't be seen every day. But is this appealing Audi more than just a pretty face? Well, yes and no. The A5 is a highly capable car with a finely wrought interior, but it's also rather pricey compared to some competitors.
Underneath the A5's slinky sheet metal, it's basically a two-door version of the A4 3.2 Quattro sedan, save for its low-slung seating position. As such, it shares with the A4 a direct-injected 3.2-liter V6 that pumps out a healthy 265 horsepower, as well as the Quattro all-wheel-drive system and a choice between a manual or automatic transmission. The V6 isn't blindingly fast, but it provides the sort of refined yet authoritative acceleration that shoppers in this segment will appreciate. When the going gets twisty, the A5's impressive composure belies its nose-heavy weight bias -- unlike the boulevard-cruising Mercedes-Benz CLK350, say, this Audi is a willing dance partner in tight corners.
The 2009 Audi A5 is also a bargain compared to the Benz, undercutting the latter's base price by a few thousand dollars. Relative to the rest of the field, though, the Audi costs a pretty penny. For example, Infiniti's G37 handily outperforms the A5 for thousands less, and BMW's AWD 328xi coupe splits the difference between the Audi and the Infiniti price-wise, while offering the best handling of all. Moreover, if you can do without AWD, the rear-wheel-drive 328i coupe is cheaper still, and the crushingly quick 335i coupe is only marginally more expensive than the A5.
But curb appeal is often what draws shoppers to luxury sport coupes in the first place, and the A5 is easily the class leader in this regard. That may be enough to tip the scales in its favor, regardless of its performance or value for the dollar. Those who do choose an A5 based on its seductive looks are unlikely to be disappointed by how it drives. If you'd rather be thrilled than ogled, however, there are better -- and cheaper -- choices.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Audi A5 is a luxury sport coupe available in a single trim level. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, a panoramic tilt-only sunroof, foglights, tri-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats, leather upholstery and a 10-speaker audio system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary input jack.
Options include 19-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, a self-opening trunk lid, adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot warning system, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless ignition, heated seats, aluminum trim, a rearview camera with park assist, a navigation system and a 505-watt Bang & Olufsen premium audio system.
The S Line Package adds a sport suspension with 19-inch alloy wheels, unique front and rear fascias, leather and Alcantara upholstery, sport seats with adjustable thigh support and more aggressive side bolsters, aluminum interior accents and paddle shifters for automatic-transmission models. The Audi Drive Select package, which adds variable-ratio steering and adjustable dampers, allows the driver to vary throttle, transmission, steering and suspension calibrations at the push of a button.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Audi A5 is powered by a direct-injected 3.2-liter V6 that generates 265 hp and 243 pound-feet of torque. Transmission options consist of a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic with manual shift control. Audi estimates that the manual-transmission A5 will run from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Our best time with an automatic-equipped A5 was 6.4 seconds.
EPA fuel-economy estimates stand at 16 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined for manual-shift models, while the automatic rates 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway and an identical 20 mpg combined.
Antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags are all standard on the 2009 Audi A5. A blind-spot warning system -- "side assist" in Audi's parlance -- is optional.
Interior Design and Special Features
The A5's richly appointed cabin is one of its strong points, boasting high-quality materials and excellent fit and finish. Audi's proprietary MMI (Multi Media Interface) routes many functions through a control knob mounted on either the center stack or the center console, depending on whether the optional navigation system is present. Many of our editors find MMI more user-friendly than BMW's much-maligned iDrive, but it's still likely to try your patience with its maze of menus and submenus.
The front seats offer adequate comfort, although lateral support for spirited driving is lacking unless you opt for the S Line Package's upgraded sport seats. Unlike its A4 platform-mate, the A5 features a low seating position and a high cowl and beltline, which may make shorter drivers feel as though they are peering out of a bathtub. The rear seat's truncated head- and legroom make it suitable for small passengers only, though people stuck back there will be treated to their own set of climate controls mounted in the rear of the center console. The trunk offers an extraordinary 16.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity, and if that proves insufficient, the rear seat folds down to accommodate larger items.
The 2009 Audi A5 is a sharp-handling coupe, with good body control and tenacious AWD traction. However, it weighs in excess of 3,800 pounds, and you'll feel every ounce of that heft when you're hustling the A5 along a winding road. We also aren't fans of the A5's standard speed-sensitive power steering system -- it's artificially light at parking-lot speeds and artificially heavy on the highway. The optional variable-ratio steering system that comes with the Audi Drive Select package delivers a similarly contrived feel, though at least it's adjustable according to driver preference.
Acceleration is satisfactory with the mandatory 3.2-liter V6, particularly on the highway, where this autobahn-bred coupe likes to stretch its legs. The manual transmission features long but reasonably precise throws; the automatic, on the other hand, can be rough at times, though shifts are remarkably quick in manual mode. Ride comfort borders on the objectionable with the optional 19-inch wheels.