You can almost hear the whispers in Audi’s design offices, late at night, “Schnell, während niemandzuschaut.” At least that’s what they’d be saying if they had asked Google Translate how to say, “Quick, while no one is looking.”
Pardon us, but although we really like the looks of the Audi lineup—they’ve even managed to make that oversized “single frame” grille work—the Audi A5 just has a certain insouciance often lacking in German design. There’s a mild but distinctive Coke-bottle shape, and a wholly impractical two-door/spurious back seat configuration, compared a proper A4 sedan, and it even lacks the sensible hatchback and four doors of the Audi A7, the coupe-like equivalent to the A6 like the A5 is to the A4.
You can almost see the smirk as the designers elbowed each other, looking at others out of the corners of their eyes as if to say, Es ist gut, ja? Again, Google translates them saying, “It’s good, yes”, as senior management looks over what the midnight oil has produced.
Of course, it doesn’t work that way. Car design, at least anywhere in the modern world where the fortunes of large corporations are involved, is a multi-stage, multi-disciplinary tug-of-war that starts some five years before an all-new model ever hits the showroom floor. And no doubt there’s a business case to be made for providing impractical cars to impractical people. Not everything has to be serious.
And thank goodness for that. Otherwise we’d miss out on the Audi A5.
The Audi A5 we drove as a 2014 Audi A5 Coupe S-Line. In the A5 family there’s also the A5 Cabriolet convertible, as well as the high performance S5 Coupe and Cabriolet, and for the first time offered at the same time, the even higher performance RS 5 in Coupe and Cabriolet.
The overriding difference between the trim levels for the A5 and its hotter sibs is of course under the hood, spanning the difference between our A5’s 220 horsepower to the thundering 450 horses of the RS 5. And of course the overriding question is how fast do you want to go and how much do you want to spend.
The “base” coupe itself, with just the 2.0-liter engine (and there is no availability of the 1.8-liter four in the coupe or cabriolet), is no means cheap, starting at $39,000 and after all the must-have options soaring to $51345.
But the good news is that the horsepower of the two-liter is up for 2014, from 211 horses a last year to 220 this. Torque remains the same at a healthy 258 lb-ft. More important than the peak numbers, however, is the spread. The horsepower plateaus from 4450 to 6000 rpm, while the torque of the turbocharged and direct injection engine draws a horizontal line from a just-above-idle 1500 rpm to 4300 rpm.
The 2014 Audi A5 2.0 TFSI is available in front drive with a continuously variable transmission, but with the Cabriolet only. Drop top or not, that seems such a shame when the A5 is comes with the choice of a six-speed manual transkmission and quattro all-wheel drive, or with an eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive in either coupe or Cabriolet.
Or test vehicle was a 2.0T coupe with the manual transmission. The initial impressions of the transmission is of a very tight shift pattern, particularly side to side. It’s easy for the newcomer to miss the slot for any gear change involving a later movement of the shift lever. It pays off with quick changes with less lever motion. The pedals are positioned properly for easy heel-and-toe downshifts.
Which is quicker, manual or tiptronic? Audi claims 0-60 mph of 6.3 seconds for the six-speed while the tiptronic coupe clocks in at 6.3 seconds, though the Cabriolet takes 6.6 seconds.
Our 2014 Audi A5 included the $3,100 Premium Plus package, which includes auto-dimming mirrors, outside heated, heated from seats, proximity key with pushbutton start and xenon headlights, along with the MMI Navigation plus package, for $3,050.
The fun option, however, is the $4,300 S line Competition package, which includes lower, firmer suspension, 19-inch wheels with summer performance tires, along with the S line exterior and interior bits. The latter includes sport seats with leather bolsters and bun-gripping Alcantara center sections. The bolstering is more than adequate for anything one should do on the road and are trackworthy as well. Both front seats have four-way adjustable lumbar support: Hello, road trip.
The S line interior is decorated with a black headliner and piano black trim inserts, and there’s more black in the S line’s interior trim molding and mirrors. The steering wheel is contoured at nine and three to make the hands happy, but it has a trendy flat-bottomed shape. Yes, we know that some race cars require flat-bottomed wheels for thigh clearance in tight confines, but there’s no need for that wheel shape in any road car. But it looks neat, so what the heck.