Full 2011 Audi A5 Review
What's New for 2011
For 2011, the Audi A5 Quattro gets an optional eight-speed automatic in place of its old six-speed. The 3.2-liter V6 has been discontinued. A new Titanium Sport package adds black trim and 19-inch wheels to the regular Sport package, while the Prestige trim picks up a standard rearview camera and parking sensors, plus an optional power rear-window shade. The Driver Assist package has been discontinued, but blind-spot warning becomes a stand-alone option in its place. HD radio is now included with the Navigation package.
The 2011 Audi A5 is one sexy coupe and convertible. It's wide, low and voluptuous -- make your own Kim Kardashian reference here. Unlike Kim, the A5's talents go beyond simply looking pretty in pictures or shaky, handheld home video. The A5 is a comfortable, rewarding car to drive, with a beautiful cabin and fuel economy that soars to about 30 mpg on the freeway. Beautiful and sensible -- now that's a combination to fall in love with.
The Audi A5 is available only with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while the two-doors from the competition are usually available with six-cylinder engines of various configurations and outputs. While the 211 horsepower from the A5's turbo inline-4 might seem merely adequate, the 258 pound-feet of torque it produces helps the car feel quick enough. The A5 coupe comes standard with all-wheel drive (it's optional for the cabriolet). For those who like the A5's looks but want greater performance, Audi offers the high-performance S5 coupe and convertible. The A5 Cabriolet features a power-operated fabric top that is stored beneath a metal tonneau cover, a lighter and less complicated arrangement than an expensive retractable hardtop, though at the price of both refinement and appearance.
Inside and out, the A5 offers all the class and sophistication you'd expect in an Audi. Its cabin is handsome in an unapologetically German sort of way, and it seems both more luxurious and more modern than its competition from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
As we've mentioned, the A5 doesn't offer outstanding power, but in every other respect Audi has done a lot to improve every aspect of performance, from the newly refined steering to the revised Multi Media Interface (MMI). The 2011 BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37 and 2011 Volvo C70 are worth considering, but for those looking for a beautiful luxury coupe or convertible that manages to return relatively excellent fuel economy, the 2011 Audi A5's beauty should prove to be more than skin deep.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Audi A5 is available in coupe and cabriolet (convertible) body styles. Both are available in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. The Premium gets you standard 18-inch wheels, foglights, cruise control, eight-way power front seats, leather upholstery, a dash-mounted Multi Media Interface (MMI) controller and a 10-speaker CD audio system with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The coupe features a tilt-only sunroof, while the cabriolet gets a power-retractable soft top and a wind blocker. The options list includes heated front seats, Bluetooth and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Premium Plus adds different wheels, automatic bi-xenon headlights, LED running lamps and taillights, automatic wipers, tri-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats, Bluetooth and an iPod/USB audio interface. The optional list for the Premium Plus includes the Navigation package, which adds Audi's latest navigation system, a more user-friendly console-mounted MMI controller, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, voice controls, HD radio and a color trip-computer screen.
The A5 Prestige comes standard with the equipment in the Navigation package and further adds keyless ignition/entry, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, driver memory functions and a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system (optional on the Premium Plus). The Prestige can further be equipped with an optional blind-spot warning system (Audi Side Assist), Audi Drive Select (adjustable settings for suspension, steering and transmission) and adaptive cruise control.
The Sport package available for the Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels adds 19-inch wheels, high-performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats and shift paddles for the automatic transmission. The S Line package available on the Prestige adds some special S Line trim pieces and faux-suede seat inserts to the Sport package. The Coupe's Titanium Sport package is basically a Sport package with some dark exterior and interior trim. The cabriolet's Comfort package adds a neck-level heating system, ventilated front sport seats, adjustable lumbar for the passenger seat and upgraded leather upholstery.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2011 Audi A5 comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 engine good for 211 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The cabriolet comes standard with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Optional on the cabriolet is all-wheel drive connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Every coupe comes standard with all-wheel drive; a six-speed manual transmission is standard and the eight-speed automatic is optional.
In performance testing, an all-wheel-drive A5 Coupe with the six-speed manual went from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. The performance from the car when equipped with the eight-speed automatic should be about the same, which is impressive given the A5's excellent fuel economy. EPA estimates with all-wheel drive and the automatic stand at 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined, with the manual getting a slight bump up to 21/31/25. The front-wheel-drive Cabriolet achieves an estimated 22/30/25.
Antilock brakes (with brake assist), stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags are all standard on the 2011 Audi A5. The Prestige can be equipped with a blind-spot warning system, while the adaptive cruise control alerts the driver and primes the brakes for full stopping power if a collision seems imminent.
In Edmunds brake testing, an A5 Quattro Coupe with the Sport package came to a stop from 60 mph in an impressively short 108 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2011 A5's attractive cabin is one of its strong points, though the competition has largely caught up with Audi's formerly segment-leading interiors. The dash-mounted version of the MMI controller can try your patience, but the new console-mounted one is a different story thanks to an updated menu structure and a special joystick-like button atop the control knob -- it's definitely the most user-friendly MMI yet.
The front seats are comfortable, although lateral support for spirited driving is lacking unless you pay the money for the upgraded sport seats. The limited head- and legroom available in the rear seat (the inevitable consequence of a coupe configuration) make it suitable for small passengers only. 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. There's an impressive amount of space within the trunk when the top is down, some 11.4 cubic feet (only 2.1 cubes fewer than in the coupe). You can't say this about a hardtop convertible.
The 2011 Audi A5 handles well, with impressive body control and tenacious traction from the all-wheel-drive system. It's important to remember that the A5 weighs more than its rear-wheel-drive rivals, which largely explains why the car 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 very precise. The optional variable-ratio steering system that comes with the Audi Drive Select package feels even more contrived, so we'd skip that pricey option.
The A5's 2.0T engine is a mixed bag. It gives this coupe and convertible class-competitive acceleration, but it doesn't sound as refined as a six-cylinder and it transmits some off-putting vibrations through the steering wheel. If you want something sweeter, check out the S5 with its V8 or supercharged V6.