Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2008 Audi A5 If...
Coupe fans shopping for a well-rounded package with high-profile looks, impressive performance and plenty of practicality are going to find a lot to like in the new Audi A5.
You May Not Like The 2008 Audi A5 If...
Although far more accommodating than a traditional 2+2 design, the A5’s subcompact-scaled rear seats won’t win many raves from taller passengers. Some owners may find the multi-layer menu system on Audi’s Multimedia Interface to be overly and unnecessarily complex.
The A5 opens up an entirely new market segment for Audi in the form of a well-designed and fun-to-drive sport and luxury two-door that can go head-to-head with the best in its class.
In keeping with Audi’s well-established tradition, the A5’s cabin design reflects a masterful blend of contemporary style and impressive functionality. The impeccable melding of leather upholstery and wood and aluminum accents with an abundance of soft-touch surfaces and finger-friendly switchgear sets a welcoming tone for up to four people. Primary control layouts prioritize the driver’s needs, but the front power seats provide equal-opportunity comfort and support for the front passenger as well. Rear seating is a bit less accommodating, although the "bucketed" bench can carry two average-sized adults and its 60/40 split-folding back opens up a huge pass-through to the A5’s unexpectedly large 16.1 cubic-foot trunk.
The A5 makes a dramatic visual statement that starts with Audi’s prominent mono-form grille and large air intakes. From there, its well-sculpted side contours are punctuated by a crisp character line that sweeps back from the headlights to the taillights in a manner that accentuates both the A5’s shoulders and its aggressively flared wheelwells. Short overhangs, a steeply raked windshield and an equally sleek trapezoidal C-pillar treatment further reinforce the car’s low, wide stance, which is complemented by 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels wrapped in 245/40 all-season tires. The optional S line Sport Package cranks that intensity up a notch, netting more aggressive fascia treatments, a lower ride height and 255/35 performance tires on 19-inch wheels.
Fortified with Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel-drive system, it’s no surprise that the A5 is an exceptionally confident handler, but equal credit for that prowess is due to a new ultra-rigid platform design that features additional mass-reducing aluminum-intensive suspension components and a more pronounced engine setback that creates better overall balance. The net result is that the A5 feels impressively neutral when being hustled through corners, turning in crisply and tracking cleanly. Although the stability and traction control remains vigilant, it’s far from intrusive and can be switched off. Overall, the A5’s ride falls on the firm side of comfortable and it does get noticeably stiffer when the car is fitted with the optional S line Sport Package – or even just the optional 19-inch wheels on lower-profile tires. Regardless of which transmission it’s teamed with, the punchy 3.2-liter V6 deals equally well with city commutes and cross-country cruising, and the A5’s anti-lock disc brakes provide plenty of consistent stopping power.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for an Audi A5 with six-speed manual transmission opens at just under $41,000. Order one with the tiptronic automatic and that figure will approach $42,000. Given the A5’s many standard features, those are pretty solid numbers compared to similarly-equipped versions of its prime rivals. However, adding certain options and packages requires pairing them with other options and packages, and that can ultimately bump the bottom line on an A5 by nearly $10,000. The long-term valuation outlook on this slick Audi coupe is mixed. While residual percentages are projected to be marginally lower than those of the all-wheel-drive BMW 328xi and 335xi Coupes, and to fall significantly below those of any version of the rear-drive-only Infiniti G37, the AWD A5 is expected to fare slightly better than the Mercedes-Benz CLK 350 over time.
To put it mildly, the A5 is an exceptionally well-appointed vehicle. Beyond leather and wood, its passenger compartment boasts a full array of power assists, tri-zone automatic climate control, multifunction steering wheel on a tilt and telescoping column, a driver information system, comprehensive Audi Multimedia Interface controller, 180-watt/10-speaker sound system with six-disc CD changer and MP3 capability, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing wipers and cruise control. Dynamic aids include the quattro all-wheel-drive system, stability control and anti-lock disc brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution. Opting for the tiptronic automatic transmission adds steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles and all A5s are fitted with front, front-side, side-curtain and knee airbags.
Extras for the A5 mainly fall into in three key groups: The Premium Package (bi-xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights, heated front seats, auto-dimming and folding exterior mirrors, auto-dimming inside mirror, driver’s seat and mirror memory and Homelink), the Technology Package (corner-following adaptive headlights, Advanced key keyless starting system and rear park assist with rearview camera – requires the navigation system) and S line Sport Package (sport suspension, wheels and tires, sport seats and special exterior and interior trims). Other upgrades include a 505-watt Bang & Olufsen premium audio system, Audi Navigation system with Audi Music Interface (requires Premium Package), Milano leather upholstery and unique 19-inch alloy wheels with 255/35 summer performance tires.
Quattro All-wheel DriveThe A5’s standard full-time quattro system is designed to optimize the power balance to all four tires all of the time. While normally apportioning motive force in a 40/60 percent front-to-rear split via a Torsen locking center differential, it can vary those percentages between 65/35 and 15/85 as traction conditions warrant. Optional LED Daytime Running LightsIncluded as part of the Premium Package, these high-tech dazzlers underscore the halogen and bi-xenon headlights in a sensual string of bright-white bullet points that add even more future-tech character to the A5’s face.
Under the Hood
The A5 uses Audi’s superb 3.2-liter FSI V6, an aluminum engine with direct injection, a dual-stage intake manifold and Audi’s variable valve-lift system that helps optimize its overall efficiency and responsiveness. While this technology-rich engine produces 265 horsepower at a fairly high 6500 rpm, it develops a solid 243 pound-feet of torque from 3,250-5,000 rpm – and makes over 90 percent of that critical torque from 2,000-6,500 rpm. Backed with the standard six-speed manual transmission, the 3.2 FSI can send the A5 sprinting from zero to 60 mph in a claimed 5.8 seconds. Pairing it with the optional six-speed automatic adds slightly to that elapsed time, but actually yields EPA mileage numbers that are better than those of the standard gearbox on the city cycle – and equal to it on the highway.3.2-liter V6265 horsepower @ 6500 rpm243 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3250-5000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/27 (manual), 18/27 (automatic)
Audi’s ever-broadening model lineup has added one more key player for 2008 in the form of the stylish A5 all-wheel-drive performance coupe. Based on new platform architecture that will also be shared with other Audis – including the all-new 2009 A4 line – the V6-powered A5 (and its even-sportier V8-powered S5 kin, reviewed separately) gives the German automaker a serious competitor to several premium-grade, enthusiast-oriented two-door models, including the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37 and Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class. With its potent powertrain, head-turning looks, comprehensive features, seating for four and a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, the A5 definitely raises Audi’s overall image and style rating – and most likely will do the same for its sales numbers, as well.