One thing modular platforms have done is give carmakers seemingly limitless options when it comes to building cars. Case in point? The Audi A5 range of Coupes, Sportbacks and Cabriolets that shares its platform with the A4 range. Audi has refreshed the A5 range for the 2021 model year, alongside its facelift for the A4 range.
However, unlike the A4 range that is more affordable across the board, all A5 variants see a modest price hike.
The range kicks off with three A5 40 TFSI variants – Coupe and Sportback, Cabriolet – the hardtop versions priced at $71,900 plus on-road costs, while the soft-top commands $85,400.
All are powered by the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine making 140kW (4200–6000rpm) and 320Nm between 1450–4200rpm. Sending power to the front wheels only is Audi’s seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
Stepping into the all-wheel-drive 45 TFSI quattro variants commands a premium.
Both the Coupe and Sportback are priced at $79,900 plus on-roads, while the Cabriolet wants for $93,400. For that outlay, you not only get Audi’s permanent all-wheel-drive underpinnings, but also a more powerful version of the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol – 183kW between 5000–6500rpm and 370Nm from 1600–4500rpm. Sending those numbers to all four wheels is the same seven-speed dual-clutch transmission as found in 40 TFSI variants.
Audi Australia launched the 2021 A5 range alongside its mid-size A4 range, where we were able to sample the A5 45 TFSI Sportback and Cabriolet. Missing from the line-up was the A5 Coupe, although we already have a car cycling through the CarAdvice garage for a full review coming soon.
Standard equipment levels across the A5 range are high, and for a detailed specifications list check out our pricing and specs story here.
Highlights include Audi’s new 10.1-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio, wireless phone charging, a 10-speaker sound system, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit driver display, and a 360-degree camera.
Other standard highlights are leather upholstery, sports seats with electric adjustment for driver and front passenger, tri-zone climate control, and keyless entry and start.
Audi Australia says the A5 Sportback is the volume seller across the broader A4/A5 range by accounting for 40 per cent of sales. Pertinent, then, that we sample the variants buyers will most likely park in their driveway.
At launch, Audi brought along the bells-and-whistles A5 Sportback 45 TFSI quattro S line with a starting price of $79,900.
Its cosmetic changes aren’t as pronounced as those on the A4, but subtle tweaks to the grille, slimmer side sills and front bumper and vents distinguish it from the previous model, while at the rear the tail-lights have been redesigned and now mirror the design of the headlights.
Inside, the most conspicuous difference is the new 10.1-inch touchscreen that sprouts from the dash. And where the rotary dialler once lived on the centre console, there is now an additional storage cubby. That touchscreen, though, is to my eyes badly positioned. Its lack of shortcut buttons makes for a distracting user experience, with the need to take eyes off the road to swipe and scroll through functions on the fly. All A5s in the range come with Virtual Cockpit as standard.
Audi continues with its restrained design language inside, the cabin a harmonious blend of understated premium. There are plenty of yielding surfaces and everything feels solid and tight.
The Sport front seats – electrically adjustable and with heating as standard (they’re optional in the lower-spec 40 TFSI) – offer plenty of support and bolster.
The second row is comfortable, too, with plenty of toe, knee and leg room, and despite that sloping roof line, head room is perfectly acceptable.
The cargo area hiding under the electric tailgate (with gesture control as standard) measures 465L with the second row of seats being used by people. Those back seats fold in 40:20:40 fashion to increase load-lugging capacity to 1280L.
Our test car came fitted with the $6050 optional S line sport package that brings nappa leather, brushed aluminium inlays, a perforated gear lever, stainless steel pedals, contrast stitching on the seats and steering wheel, and 20-inch alloys replacing the 19-inch standard wheels. Metallic paint added another $1990 for an as-tested price of $90,800 (plus on-roads).
On the road, the 2.0-litre petrol’s outputs translate to a rapid driving experience. Audi claims a 0–100km/h time of 6.0 seconds for the Sportback, and that feels on the money. Power delivery is smooth and predictable, the seven-speed dual-clutch showing no signs of hesitation. Ask more of the A5 Sportback, such as overtaking or merging onto a freeway, and there’s enough shove from the powertrain to make such manoeuvres feel effortless.
There’s an easy loping nature to the 45 TFSI Sportback on the highway. Set the cruise control (adaptive, standard) and the Sportback simply goes about its work quietly and effortlessly. It really is a refined premium experience.
But, those optional 20-inch alloys with slim rubber do the Sportback no favours; the ride on the standard-fit passive dampers (adaptive dampers are a $2340 option) erring on the side of taut. It’s not uncomfortable or unbearable, but you do tend to feel more of the bumps and lumps that scar our nation’s highways.
Once off the highway and onto a nice stretch of twists and climbs, the Sportback lives up to the ‘sport’ in its name. It’s not an out-and-out performance car, but it’s no slouch either.
There’s some gleeful reward when linking some corners together in a spirited manner, the Sportback offering enough pace for some fun. Switching to Dynamic mode sharpens throttle response, while the DCT willingly lets the engine rev freely. The steering tightens, too, some added weight providing nice feedback through the wheels. Thanks to maximum torque coming on song at just 1600rpm (and staying there until 4600rpm), the Sportback never feels underdone.
And with quattro all-wheel-drive surety, grip is not an issue, the Sportback remaining composed and calm, even under harder cornering – even if the ride, as it is on the highway, remains a little flustered. It’s not a deal-breaker, however.
Audi reckons the A5 45 TFSI Sportback in this trim will consume 7.1 litres per 100km. We saw 6.9L/100km, and that included a spirited run on rural back roads after a long and easy highway run.
Swapping into the Cabriolet offered a different perspective on the A5 formula. The car at launch was the more fulsome 45 TFSI quattro sharing the same powertrain with the same outputs as its Sportback sibling.
Yet, the extra weight carried by the soft-top A5 (1810kg against 1645kg) means its 0–100km/h time is half-a-second slower, stopping the timer at 6.5 seconds. It’s still an engaging car to drive, especially with the roof down on a sunny winter’s day.
Wind deflectors ensure the cabin remains reasonably calm, although at speeds of 100km/h on the motorway, nothing is stopping your hair from getting ruffled by something more than a breeze. You’ll be grateful for the heated seats and the addition of heated neck warmers – little vents in the headrest that blow a gentle, warm breeze.
Other thoughtful touches include three small buttons on the seatbelt that are actually microphones, allowing for greater clarity of telephony when motoring with the roof down. That roof can be raised or lowered at speeds up to 50km/h and takes 15 seconds to open and 12 seconds to close.
With the roof down, there was some shaking around the windscreen frame, but it was minor and to be expected in a car with no roof. Overall, the experience behind the wheel is comfortable, the cabin again exuding that understated plushness so common to Audi.
You wouldn’t call cruising at highway speeds the last word in comfort, not in winter with the roof down, but in terms of performance, that 0.5sec handicap to the Sportback is barely felt, the Cabriolet still eager to get up to speed.
Our time in the soft-top was spent almost exclusively on the highway, so any meaningful dynamic assessment will have to wait when we cycle one through the CarAdvice garage.
Audi claims there’s 370L of boot space with the roof up, which isn’t too bad for a convertible. How much space having the roof down sucks from the boot, Audi isn’t saying.
Fuel consumption is claimed at 7.4L/100km. We returned 9.4L/100km against that claim.
All six A5 variants are covered by Audi’s service plan, available for either three years ($1800) or five ($2820). Warranty remains at a slim three-year/unlimited kilometres.
The Audi A5 range completes a comprehensive suite of mid-size passenger cars for the German brand. When sitting alongside its A4 siblings, the entire range encompasses traditional three-box sedans, wagons, coupes, liftback sedans and cabriolets.
Looking at the A5 range in isolation, it’s hard to go past the Sportback as the pick of the bunch. Its blend of practicality, comfort and, yes, sportiness, makes it a compelling proposition. Little wonder, then, that the Audi A5 Sportback accounts for 40 per cent of all A4/A5 sales. The people have spoken.