It’s often a challenge for a carmaker to develop the “second generation” of a popular model — you don’t want to mess with success. But it’s also an opportunity to sharpen the design, enhance interior features and technology, and satisfy some critics.
Challenge met, Audi, with the fully-redesigned A5 Coupe 2.0T. The 2018 A5 gets more turbocharged power plus an available 6-speed manual shifter. It has a smarter, more sophisticated cabin with higher quality materials and now an available virtual cockpit. And, the sunroof slides open now — not just a raise-and-tilt.
Also new in the U.S. this year is a four-door hatchback, which combines crossover-SUV functionality with sport-sedan performance. It’s called the Sportback, previously available only in Europe, and offers increased room for passengers and cargo. A cabriolet is yet another style in the A5 family.
Put the A5 into Dynamic drive mode and it feels like it’s buzzing on one of those high-energy drinks. Throttle response quickens and the adaptive suspension system tightens. The adaptive suspension is well worth the extra $1,000; It quickly adjusts to the road surface and type of driving, comfort or sport.
The A5 gets Audi’s trusty 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that’s good for 252 hp — up from 220 hp last year — and 273 pound-feet of torque. It can be matched to the manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system is standard on all A5s.
You won’t blow folks off the road with the A5 but it does feel quick. Zero-to-60 mph comes in six seconds and it has a top speed of 130 mph.
If there’s one area of concern, it’s the steering. It’s adequate in daily driving but lacks the crisp feedback you want in sportier driving. Still, the A5 is well poised on corners and easy to maneuver around town.
Mileage figures are decent with EPA-estimates at 24 mpg city, 34 on the highway, for a combined average of 27 mpg.
Inside is where there are drastic improvements for 2018, with dark-brown walnut inlays and excellent fit and finish throughout. It gets ambient LED lighting inside and a new ergonomic gear selector.
Granted, much of the cool stuff comes as part of a comprehensive Prestige Package that will set you back $7,600. It includes heated 10-way power front seats, alarm system with motion sensors, head-up color display and a sweet 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The tech highlight is the 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display, which allows you to customize the arrangement of driver information. Shrink the speedometer and tachometer and bring up vehicle status data, if you like, or even slide the navigation map from the center screen atop the dash into the virtual display.
Seats are comfortable and supportive, much like the A4. But the backseat of the coupe is a tight squeeze getting in and out, and it could use more legroom and headroom, too. (Note to taller folks: avoid it altogether).
At 11.6 cubic feet, cargo space is below average for this segment but fold the rear seats down and you can fit a couple of suitcases or golf bags. If cargo space is essenitial, you might want to consider the Sportback version, which has nearly double the cargo space of the coupe.
Standard safety features include rearview camera, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking. A Driver assistance Package, for another $1,800, adds adaptive cruise control which will even stop the car, lane-keep assist, blind-spot warning, and rear automatic emergency braking.
All in all, the A5 is a worthy contender in the compact luxury car segment. If it doesn’t sound quick enough, you can always move up to the sportier S5 for more power – 354-hp turbocharged V-6 – and a sport suspension that gives it greater agility.
2018 Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T
As tested: $54,300 (with Prestige and Driver Assistance packages, adaptive damping suspension)
What’s all the excitement about? The second-generation A5 gets a boost in power and a virtual cockpit
Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbo four with 252 hp, mated to 7-speed S tronic transmission
How’s the performance? Spirited ride, well poised on corners
What about fuel economy? EPA-rated at 24 mpg city, 34 highway, for a combined 27 mpg