Review: Audi A5

A sophisticated, high-spec car

08 Jul 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Sophisticated looks

  • Spacious boot

  • Well-built cabin

Cons

  • Lack of headroom in the rear

  • Electrical glitches

  • BMW 3 series is nicer to drive

Our expert rating

The Audi A5 is a compact executive car that first appeared on the scene in 2007. Its looks are very similar to the A4 and A6 but it has a for more sporty image. The A5 is available as a couple, cabriolet and Sportback. 

Performance

The A5 uses an established range of Audi petrol and diesel engines, so there’s plenty of power under the bonnet. The best model to go for if you want a blend of performance and economy is the 2.0 litre TDI diesel. It’s robust, sophisticated and the high-spec engine makes the stylish German car great at eating up motorway miles.

Outside of Audi A5 in red

Ride and handling

Body control is not bad and if you have a Quattro four-wheel-drive version, the car sticks to the road like superglue. However, beware of pushing the more rudimentary front-wheel-drive models too hard. These can feel a little unwieldy on twisty sections of road.

On all variants, the Audi A5’s steering is a tad dull, although it remains unruffled on any surface and at any speed. The car also has a firm ride, but this goes hand in glove with the A5’s sporty aspirations.

The drive gets even stiffer if you buy a used A5 that has had the popular optional sports suspension fitted.

Exterior and rear of Audi A5 in red

Interior space

There is a respectable amount of space behind the wheel and for the front-seat passenger. Yet, because of the sloping rear roofline, the rear seats are short of headroom. Legroom isn’t anything to write home about either.

Nonetheless, the lengthy front doors provide excellent access to the cabin. Another plus point is the Audi A5’s boot - it is a really nice shape and size, and the load area can be extended if you fold the rear seats down.

What to know before you buy

The Audi A5 is still a relatively fresh contender on the secondhand market and it is generally seen as a reliable car. However, as with all motors, the Audi isn’t flawless. Electrical gremlins are the most irritating issue, especially concerning the coupé’s entertainment control system, where the screen can freeze and stop working.

The Audi’s central locking, built-in phone system and reversing sensors can also play up. More rarely, engine-warning lights can sometimes stay illuminated.

Also, on A5s fitted with manual gearboxes, the clutches can fail. On your test drive, listen out for noises in the cabin. In the long term, clatters and squeaks will annoy you, unless you’re happy to turn the car stereo up.

All Audis are desirable cars, so be sure to run an HPI check to ensure the service history book is fully stamped and up to date.

Interior of Audi A5

Alternative cars

The Audi A5’s arch-enemy has always been the BMW 3 Series Coupé. To be fair, even though the A5 is a cracker of a used car, it doesn’t stand up against the pure driving pleasure derived from the BMW.

You need to think about that when researching this as your next vehicle. In many ways, the A5 is better looking, but you really need to get behind the wheel of both cars to see whether looks alone will sway you towards the Audi.

Alternative car to Audi A5 - BMW 3 Series

Overall verdict

The Audi A5 has a bunch of lively and efficient engines to choose from, and it’s most appealing element is its drop-dead-gorgeous good looks. The car also has a terrific build quality, but none of this makes up for the fun derived from its big German rival, BMW.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall