What's New for 2012
Other than some shuffling of feature availability, the 2012 Audi A5 is unchanged.
Objects of desire can sometimes be tricky. It's all too easy to be lured in by a sleek and sexy body, only to be disappointed as its true nature reveals itself. Thankfully, there's a lot more to the 2012 Audi A5 than just attractive bodywork.
Not only is the A5 capable of turning heads, it's also able to set your mind at ease. It provides a comfortable ride, a high-class interior, confident handling and admirable fuel economy. The latter comes about from the A5's turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Having a 211-horsepower four-cylinder as the only engine offered might seem odd given that most competing cars pack six-cylinder engines, but the A5 gives up little in terms of acceleration. Those with a hunger for more performance won't feel left out, either, as Audi offers the more powerful 2012 Audi S5 with either a V8 or supercharged V6.
Sun-loving shoppers would do well to consider the 2012 Audi A5 convertible. Similar to the engine offering, the A5 takes a road less traveled, since it comes with a conventional soft top in a segment of cars where retractable hardtops are pretty much the norm. This means the A5 convertible's roof can't provide the same security and top-up styling as those cars, but in contrast it's lighter, less complicated and takes up less trunk space when lowered.
All of the above qualities come together to create a truly desirable luxury coupe and convertible. And even though rivals like the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37 and Volvo C70 boast more cylinders and more engine refinement, the A5 should certainly not be discounted, especially when you consider it can achieve 30 mpg on the highway. All in all, the beautiful 2012 Audi A5 should prove to be an object worthy of your affection.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Audi A5 is available in both coupe and convertible (Cabriolet) body styles and offered in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. The high-performance S5 is discussed in a separate review.
Standard features on the Premium trim include 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, cruise control, automatic wipers, eight-way power front seats, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, a dash-mounted Multi Media Interface (MMI) controller and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, 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.
An optional Convenience package adds Bluetooth and an iPod audio interface, while a Style package includes bi-xenon headlights, LED running lamps and taillights, and bright metal exterior trim.
The Premium Plus trim gains the above options as standard and tops it with tri-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming mirrors, heated front seats and driver seat memory functions. Available options include the Navigation package, which adds a 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 adaptive headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a blind-spot detection system and a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system (optional on the Premium Plus). The Prestige can further be equipped with Audi Drive Select, which provides adaptive suspension dampers plus adjustable settings for suspension, steering and transmission. Adaptive cruise control is offered as a stand-alone option.
The Sport package -- available for the Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels -- adds a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats and shift paddles for the automatic transmission. The Sport package is required to add the S Line package (only available on the Prestige), which adds 19-inch wheels, black exterior trim, faux-suede seat inserts and brushed aluminum 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
Powering all 2012 Audi A5s is a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine that produces 211 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. Cabriolet models come standard with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), but buyers can opt for all-wheel drive that is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Coupe models have all-wheel drive standard, as well as a six-speed manual transmission -- the eight-speed automatic is optional.
In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive A5 coupe with the eight-speed automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. An A5 with the six-speed manual was actually slower at 6.6 seconds. While acceleration might not impress the enthusiast driver, the A5's fuel economy surely will. 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.
Standard safety features on the 2012 Audi A5 include antilock brakes (with brake assist), stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. 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 all-wheel-drive A5 coupe with the Sport package came to a stop from 60 mph in an impressively short 108 feet. Without the Sport package, that distance lengthens to a still-respectable 117 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
As is the case with nearly all Audis, the 2012 Audi A5's interior receives high marks for its understated design and use of top-notch materials. In terms of functionality, however, some elements can be hit-and-miss. The standard dash-mounted MMI controller isn't nearly as easy to operate as the unit that comes with the optional navigation system. The standard MMI requires a few extra steps compared to the optional MMI, which benefits from simplified menus and a more favorable console-mounted controller.
The comfort of the front seats is quite good for long road trips, but the seats lack the type of lateral support that a spirited driver desires. Thankfully, the optional sport seats remedy this problem. Unfortunately, there's no fix for the rear seats, as the lack of head- and legroom makes them suitable for smaller passengers only.
Those who choose the 2012 Audi A5 convertible will certainly appreciate the power soft top's operation, which requires only about 15 seconds to raise or lower. On top of that, the al fresco driving experience doesn't come at the expense of trunk space. With the top down, the trunk can still accommodate 11.4 cubic feet of cargo, only 2.1 cubes less than the coupe. The coupe also benefits from folding rear seats for added convenience.
The 2012 Audi A5 handles well, with impressive body control and tenacious traction from the all-wheel-drive system. At the same time, it's important to remember that the A5 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 effort level of 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 and great fuel economy, 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 2012 Audi S5 with its V8 or supercharged V6.