Cars - Audi

Road tests and reviews of the latest Audi models available in South Africa

2016 Audi A5

2016 Audi A5

By Franky Johnson

There comes a time in many drivers' lives when prudent and practical car purchases have run their course. If that's where you find yourself these days, you're probably taking a long, hard look at cars like the 2016 Audi A5. From its subtly sexy exterior to its high-quality cabin, the A5 looks and feels classy. Mechanically, a turbocharged engine, standard all-wheel drive and a well-tuned suspension can turn any outing into a pleasure cruise. Add in the A4's wide range of comfort and convenience features and you've got a luxury two-door that would seem to be a great choice to revitalize your daily drive.

All is not perfect, however. Although the A5's four-cylinder engine is peppy, its acceleration is ultimately a bit underwhelming for this price range. More objectionable, perhaps, is the A5's lack of standard Bluetooth audio connectivity and the unavailability of a USB port. Then there's the matter of safety technology. If you're intrigued by recent innovations like lane-keeping assist and collision mitigation with automatic braking, keep in mind that the 2016 A5 offers nothing more than a blind-spot monitor.

The Audi A5 has no shortage of attractive competitors. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe and convertible are pricier, but some may find their stronger engines and additional safety features to be worth the extra money. We're also fond of the fully redesigned Audi TT, which delivers the latest tech and safety features plus plenty of performance.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The four-passenger 2016 Audi A5 is offered in coupe and convertible (Cabriolet) body styles. The latter features a power-operated soft top and a wind blocker. There are two trim levels: Premium and Premium Plus.

The Premium model comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, an S Line trim package (unique bumpers, side sills, fender badges and door sill inserts), automatic xenon headlights, LED running lights and taillights, foglights, automatic wipers, heated mirrors, a tilt-only sunroof (coupe only), tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats (with four-way driver lumbar support), split-folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth phone connectivity, the MMI infotainment system (with a dash-mounted controller and a 6.5-inch display) and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and Audi's proprietary digital music interface.

The Premium Plus adds auto-dimming mirrors, heated front seats and keyless ignition and entry (both optional on Premium), driver memory functions and a Bang & Olufsen sound system with 14 speakers for the coupe and 12 for the convertible.

Options start with an MMI Navigation Plus package on Premium models that adds a color driver information system, a navigation system, an upgraded MMI system with console-mounted controls, Audi Connect online services (with mobile WiFi), a CD/DVD player, HD radio and Bluetooth streaming audio. Premium Plus models can be had with a Technology package that contains the MMI Navigation Plus package's features plus a blind-spot monitor, front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.

A Sport package available on Premium Plus models includes a sport-tuned suspension, front sport seats, a sport steering wheel with shift paddles (automatic only) and Audi's Drive Select system, which provides driver control over steering, throttle and automatic transmission calibrations. Also offered on Premium Plus is a Sport Plus package that adds 19-inch wheels, summer performance tires, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and (on the coupe) a black cloth headliner and gloss-black interior trim. The S Line Competition Plus package (coupe only) adds an aero body kit, leather and faux-suede upholstery and a sport shifter (manual only). Finally, Cabriolet models in Premium Plus trim are eligible for a Comfort package that adds a neck-level heating system, upgraded leather upholstery and ventilated front seats with power lumbar for both driver and passenger.

Stand-alone options include various wheel designs and wood interior trim.

Powertrains and Performance
The all-wheel-drive 2016 Audi A5 is powered by a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the coupe, and an eight-speed automatic is available as an option on the coupe and comes standard on the convertible.

Safety
Standard safety features for the 2016 Audi A5 include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side and knee airbags and (for the coupe) full-length side curtain airbags. A blind-spot monitoring system, a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors are all exclusively available on the Premium Plus trim.

Interior Design and Special Features
Audi consistently earns high marks for its classy cabins, and the 2016 A5 is no exception. The design is handsome without too much flash, and the look is complemented by high-quality materials and excellent workmanship. Basic gauges and controls are straightforward, though the standard MMI system's dash-mounted control knob can make performing some common operations a bit cumbersome. The upgraded "high" MMI interface that comes with the optional navigation system benefits from a slightly larger display screen, simplified menus and a more ergonomic control knob located on the center console. Incidentally, this upgrade also brings Bluetooth streaming audio, though USB connectivity is absent from every A5; you're stuck with Audi's odd proprietary music interface instead.

The standard front seats offer good comfort on long drives, though those who plan on exploring the A5's performance potential will prefer the available sport seats with their bigger side bolsters. The rear seats are another story, as their lack of head- and legroom make them best suited to pint-size passengers. We do like the convertible's power-operated soft top for its quick operation and impressive wind noise insulation.

In terms of cargo capacity, the coupe's trunk offers a healthy 12.2 cubic feet of storage. The convertible isn't much worse at 10.2 cubic feet. Either way, the standard 50/50-split rear seatbacks open up additional cargo room when folded.

Driving Impressions
The 2016 A5's nicely calibrated suspension delivers a rewarding balance of athletic cornering and a livable ride. Picking the optional sport suspension firms up handling but doesn't fully ruin the ride comfort, so it's the way to go if you want the most sport from the A5. The standard all-wheel-drive system both enhances dry pavement performance and adds some extra peace of mind when roads turn slick.

By sport-luxury standards, the A5's turbocharged four-cylinder engine is modest in terms of both speed and sound. That said, it still produces fairly zesty acceleration in everyday driving, along with pleasing fuel economy numbers. Those in search of more thrust are advised to check out Audi's performance-oriented S5.

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