What's New for 2010
The 2010 Audi A5 receives a soft-top Cabriolet variant, a standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a new trim level structure. Additionally, V6 models are no longer available with the manual transmission, and navigation-equipped A5s receive the third-generation MMI system with a revised controller and real-time traffic.
The Audi A5's third year of production is upon us, but this slinky coupe -- and now soft-top convertible as well -- still turns heads wherever it rolls. If you find its lines extraordinarily passionate for a Teutonic product, you're onto something: The A5 was penned by an Italian designer. Underneath, the A5 is just a two-door version of the A4 sport sedan; think of it as Audi's answer to the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G37 coupes and convertibles. Yet it's that sexy skin that sets the A5 apart in a segment where looks count more than usual.
For 2010, the Audi A5 stands even farther apart from the crowd, for better or worse, thanks to a new base engine: Audi's familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four (2.0T). It's rated at 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in this application, just like in the A4. The formerly standard 3.2-liter V6 remains available, but only with the automatic transmission (the 2.0T gets a standard six-speed manual and an optional automatic). The soft-top Cabriolet model also debuts for 2010, as does Audi's standardized trim level structure and an improved version of MMI for navigation-equipped models.
The A5's advantages start with all-wheel drive -- it's standard on the Audi, so those in harsher climes should find the A5 particularly appealing relative to its rear-drive rivals. Also, the A5's interior is one of the nicest around. On the downside, though, the A5 Cabriolet has a soft top while competing models have retractable hardtops. And if it's speed and handling you're after, the rear-drive, 300-plus-hp competition bests even the V6-powered A5, let alone the 2.0T models. Indeed, a major question to answer is whether standard four-cylinder power, however peppy, will meet your desires for a luxury coupe or convertible.
If you give the 2.0T a chance, though, you'll likely walk away impressed by its torquey performance and high fuel economy. And if you're already smitten with the 2010 Audi A5, the arrival of the convertible is one more reason to consider adding this Audi to your stable. Of course, don't forget to check out the BMW 328i/335i and Infiniti G37 coupes and convertibles, as well as the retractable-hardtop Volvo C70. But style goes a long way in this segment, and we wouldn't blame anyone for selecting the A5 on those grounds alone.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Audi A5 is a luxury sport coupe and convertible (Cabriolet) available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. The 2.0T four-cylinder engine is standard across the board, with the 3.2-liter V6 optional on the Premium Plus and Prestige.
The base Premium coupe comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, heated exterior mirrors, an electronic parking brake, a multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel, a panoramic tilt-only sunroof, automatic climate control, power front seats, leather upholstery, a split-folding rear seatback, Audi's previous-generation Multi Media Interface (MMI) with dash-mounted controls and a 10-speaker CD audio system with satellite radio and an auxiliary input jack. The Cabriolet adds a power-retractable soft top and a wind blocker.
The Premium Plus adds different 18-inch alloys, xenon headlamps, LED headlight and taillight accents, rain-sensing wipers, an iPod interface, Bluetooth, heated front seats and tri-zone automatic climate control. The top-of-the-line Prestige tacks on keyless entry/ignition, auto-dimming mirrors, a color driver information display, a Bang & Olufsen sound system with a DVD player, driver memory functions and a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic updates and the third-generation MMI system (including revised menus and a joystick-like button atop the control knob).
Many higher-end standard features are optional on the lower trim levels. Other options include wood interior trim, a Sport package (includes 19-inch wheels, summer tires, a sport-tuned suspension and sport seats) and special leather upholstery, with the latter two unavailable on the A5 Premium. Prestige-only options include an S Line package (essentially a special Sport package with unique exterior and interior trim), Audi Drive Select (includes adaptive suspension dampers, variable-ratio steering and four selectable driving modes for transmission and steering response and ride tuning), adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot warning system and a back-up camera with rear parking sensors. The Cabriolet-only Comfort package adds a neck-level heating system and ventilated seats.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Audi A5 is powered by either a turbocharged 2.0-liter four with 211 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.2-liter V6 that generates 265 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. Transmission options for the 2.0T consist of a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic with manual shift control, while the V6 is automatic-only. In performance testing, we timed a V6-powered A5 at 6.4 seconds from zero to 60 mph.
EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined for 2.0T A5s with the manual transmission. The automatic drops the 2.0T to 21/27/23. With the V6, the A5 is rated at 18/27/21.
Antilock brakes (with brake assist), stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags are all standard on the 2010 Audi A5. A blind-spot warning system -- "side assist" in Audi's parlance -- is available as long as the navigation system has been selected. Also optional is an "Active Braking Guard" feature that's part of the adaptive cruise control. If an imminent collision is detected, the system alerts the driver and primes the brakes for full stopping power.
In brake testing, an A5 3.2 Quattro with the Sport package came to a stop from 60 mph in an excellent 108 feet. That distance would grow longer without that package's summer tires.
Interior Design and Special Features
The A5's attractive and high-quality cabin is one of its strong points, though the competition has largely caught up to Audi's formerly segment-leading interiors. Audi's MMI routes many functions through a control knob mounted on either the dashboard or the center console, depending on whether the optional navigation system is present. The dash-mounted version can be patience-trying, but the console-mounted one is a different story -- thanks to Audi's latest third-generation menu structure and a special joystick-like button atop the control knob, this is the user-friendliest MMI yet.
The front seats are adequately comfortable, although lateral support for spirited driving is lacking unless you spring for the upgraded sport seats via the Sport package or S Line package. Unlike its A4 platform-mate, the A5 features a low seating position and a high cowl and beltline, which is sportier but may make shorter drivers feel submerged. The rear seat's limited 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 on Premium Plus and Prestige models. The rear seat folds down to accommodate larger items, a welcome convenience in a luxury two-door. The Cabriolet's soft top powers down beneath the metal tonneau cover in 17 seconds and goes back up in just 15 seconds. If traffic starts to move in the interim, no worries -- the top will keep operating up to 30 mph. Also impressive is top-down trunk space in the Cabriolet, which comes in at 11.4 cubic feet, just 2.1 cubes fewer than in the coupe. Plus, unlike its hardtop competitors, trunk space remains usable with the roof lowered.
The 2010 Audi A5 handles well, with good body control and relentless AWD traction. However, it weighs more than its rear-wheel-drive rivals, which largely explains why it feels more like a grand touring coupe than a high-performance one. The standard speed-sensitive power steering system can seem artificially light at parking lot speeds and too heavy on the highway, though it's highly precise. The optional variable-ratio steering system that comes with the Audi Drive Select package feels even more contrived, but at least it's adjustable according to driver preference.
Acceleration is satisfactory with either engine; indeed, there's little difference in performance. The V6's primary advantage is its smooth, muscular sound, in pleasant contrast to the 2.0T's somewhat gritty four-cylinder character. The 2.0T's manual transmission features long but reasonably precise throws; the automatic, on the other hand, can be a bit rough around the edges in spirited driving, though shifts are remarkably quick in manual mode. Ride comfort borders on objectionable with the optional Sport package and 19-inch wheels.