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4.3 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 4 reviews
2011 Audi A5 Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 3 reviews
Audi's stylish A5 coupe and cabriolet roll into 2011 with a new eight-speed automatic transmission that promises both excellent fuel economy and competitive acceleration. Though it sometimes gets lost in the shadow cast by its sleeker, faster brother, the S5, the dialed-down A5 is an incredibly worthy car in its own right, one that deserves a very close look from buyers who place a premium on luxury.
Competing against the likes of BMW's 3 Series and Infiniti's brash G37, the 2011 A5 coupe and convertible are, in effect, two-door versions of Audi's polished and popular A4 sedan. While the folks at BMW and Infiniti are content to essentially delete the rear doors in converting their sedan to a coupe, Audi's engineers have clothed their effort in entirely unique bodywork that's undeniably gorgeous. With long, flowing lines and a low roof, the A5 has classically elegant proportions. Yet the A5's aggressive stance and sharply creased bodywork convey modern elements as well, resulting in an overall design that's extremely eye-catching. The A5 cabriolet is even prettier, the chopped top accentuating the car's lines perfectly.
Audi offers its 2011 A5 only with four-cylinder power. Though seemingly at a disadvantage in a class full of brawny sixes, the A5's turbocharged 2.0-liter motor pumps out 211 hp and a stout 258 lb-ft of torque. The A5 feels strong through the mid-range, and good traction helps overcome the car's displacement deficiency off the line. Though the four might be a bit harsher than a velvety-smooth BMW straight six, the A5's excellent fuel economy means drivers won't be filling up as much.
Drivetrain options in the 2011 A5 vary depending on the body style. Coupes get Audi's vaunted Quattro all-wheel-drive system and either a six-speed manual gearbox or the new eight-speed automatic. Cabriolets come in both front-drive and Quattro flavors, with the Quattros getting the eight-speed slushbox and two-wheel drive's featuring a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Sadly, no stick-shift drop-top A5 is offered.
Spend some time behind the wheel of the A5 and you'll find it to be a willing, capable performer. Though it's less precise than the 3 Series and lacks the incredible speed and grip of the G37, the 2011 A5 is well-balanced and confident in the twisties. The ride is firm but not harsh, and the quick, communicative steering enables even the wide A5 to be placed very easily. Most drivers won't miss the extra 10th of performance that the A5's rivals offer, but those who think they might would do well to step up to the (unfortunately far more expensive) S5, which runs in a different class entirely.
While hard-charging performance isn't the A5's forte, relaxed grand touring certainly is. A long trip down twisty roads is what the A5, especially the cabriolet model, was designed for. It's large size gives the A5 a spaciously wide interior, and the cabriolet's cloth top takes up much less room in the trunk than the BMW's heavy metal folding roof. The rigid structure isn't unduly compromised by the removal of the roof; wind and road noise are well-isolated, and the cabin is vibration-free. Three companions can join the driver inside the A5, and while legroom in back trails the 3 Series', it handily outclasses the G37's.
Given that Audi prides itself on interior quality, it's no surprise that the 2011 A5 features a slick, custom-fitted cabin with top-notch materials. The design manages to be both cushy and austere at the same time, capturing the essence of modern luxury with perfectly chosen textures. The seats, too, are excellent, able to adjust in any direction and offering plenty of support during spirited driving.
Audi has priced the 2011 A5 coupe right alongside its BMW and Infiniti competition. A5 cabriolet's are on par with the G37 convertible, and both cost substantially less than the metal-roof 3 Series drop-top. The Audi has the advantage, however, in feature content. All A5s get standard leather seats, dual-zone electronic climate control, a 180-watt stereo with MP3 capability and satellite radio, and 18-inch alloy wheels shod with all-season tires. An optional Premium Plus package includes xenon headlights, heated seats, a third climate control zone (especially useful in the cabriolet) and iPod integration. The high-dollar Prestige package nets buyers GPS navigation, a rear-view camera and an excellent Bang & Olufsen stereo with 505 watts of power. A series of unique color options, called Audi Exclusive, allows customers to have their A5 painted in exotic hues like Velvet Purple, Morning Dew, and the surprisingly fetching Saddle Brown.
Standard safety equipment in the 2011 A5 includes automatic pre-tensioning seatbelts, antilock brakes with electronic force distribution, and six airbags (front, side, and curtain). Though the A5 hasn't been put through the wringer by either the government's crash-test regimen or that of the independent IIHS, the A4 sedan with which it shares its basic structure has performed exceptionally well in both tests. With its comprehensive suite of active and passive safety equipment, the A5 should handle any potentially ugly situations with the utmost regard for occupant protection.
Overall, the 2011 Audi A5 is a stylish boulevardier that can hold its own when the road gets to curving. Though out and out performance isn't the A5's bailiwick, its drop-dead styling and luxe interior make both the coupe and convertible feel special. Given the relative popularity of the BMW 3 Series and the Infiniti G37, the rather uncommon A5 stands out as a rather unique choice that's sure to please its owner.
by Jesse Berger
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