2021 Audi A5

By November 17, 2020

The demure and suave 2021 Audi A5 may be the best-looking car in Audi’s lineup. It’s also one of the brand’s most versatile nameplates: buyers can get it as either a hatchback, coupe, or convertible. If that’s not enough, all three body styles are also available in hotted-up S5 guise.

For 2021, all A5 models now come standard with lane-departure warnings, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a built-in toll transponder. Audi has also responded to the popularity of the hatchback Sportback model by introducing a cheaper version that’s powered by what Audi calls the 40 TFSI. It’s Audi’s term for a 201-horsepower turbo-4.

This lower-output turbo-4 slots in under the 45 TFSI, which is a 261-hp turbo-4 that was previously standard. To put some room between the two engines, the 45 TFSI now makes 13 more horsepower than last year. Both turbo-4s utilize 12-volt mid-hybrid technology and pair up with all-wheel drive and a dual-clutch 7-speed automatic.

The 45 TSI can’t be called slow, but it’s no match for the S5’s turbocharged V-6. This engine displaces 3.0 liters and makes 349 hp. Like the turbo-4s, all wheel drive is standard. An 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is used in place of the 7-speed gearbox.

The 40 TFSI hasn’t yet been tested by the EPA, but expect it to be the most efficient choice. The 45 TFSI shouldn’t stray from last year’s ratings of 24 mpg city, 32 highway, 27 combined. The S5 should be expected to return the same 23/30/27 mpg it posted last year.

All A5 and S5 models come standard with automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings, while features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and active lane control are all available or standard on higher trims.

The 2021 A5 hasn’t yet been tested for crashworthiness, but the 2020 models received a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA and aced the battery of tests administered by the IIHS.

Model Lineup

All prices reflect a $995 destination charge.

With three body styles and two distinct flavors of performance, the A5 range offers something for a wide range of budgets and tastes. The cheapest model is the 40 TFSI Sportback in Premium trim, which starts at $42,795. Standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels, LED lighting, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, and a panoramic roof.

The 45 TFSI is the entry-level powertrain on coupes and convertibles (and is optional on the Sportback). All 45 TFSI Premium models are similarly equipped to the 40 TFSI Premium. Coupes and Sportback models with this powertrain are priced at $44,995, while convertibles start at $51,395.

The Premium Plus trim adds Audi’s all-digital instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and a heated steering wheel. It is priced at $47,695 for a 40 TFSI Sportback or $49,895 for a 45 TFSI in coupe or Sportback trim. Convertibles so equipped start at $56,295.

The Prestige is the top trim and includes Bang & Olufsen audio, navigation, heated rear seats, a head-up display, and matrix LED lighting. It costs $53,395 for a 40 TFSI Sportback, $54,745 for a TFSI 45 coupe or Sportback, and $62,145 for a convertible.

S5 models are available with the same trims and amenities. Prices range from $53,495 to $61,595 for coupe and Sportback models; Convertible S5s span between $61,595 and 69,695.

Exterior

The A5 line is the best representation of the Audi design language. Coupes are particularly alluring, the flowing roofline accentuating its smooth, flowing flanks. Unlike some Audis that have massive grilles and angry-looking front bumpers, the A5 plays it cool with slim headlights and a subtle grille and bumper design.

Convertibles simply lop off the roof of the coupe, but Sportbacks are a bit more differentiated. With four doors and a hatchback design, it’s not immediately apparent that it shares a badge with the A5 coupe. Yet the Sportback does retain the two-door’s sculpted haunches, powerful stance, and purposeful demeanor. It is attractive in its own right, and certainly more emotive than the comparatively sterile A4 sedan.

Interior

The A5 cabin is like all Audi cabins: well-built, stylish, tech-heavy. Nothing suggests cheapness, not even in the base 40 TFSI Sportback. Whatever corners Audi cut to achieve a $42,795 starting price, they aren’t apparent from the driver’s seat.

With technology one of Audi’s major selling points, the standard 10.1-inch touchscreen remains the centerpiece of the interior. It calls attention to itself as it rises from its hiding place in the dash; once in place the crisply rendered graphics make it a cinch to read at a glance. Audi has transitioned away from rotary controllers for its infotainment to a touchscreen design, so everything is now a swipe or tap away.

The A5 coupe and convertible seat four, while the Sportback seats five. We would still seat just four in the latter, however, due to its sloping roofline and limited leg room. Two occupants is the preferred number for the two-doors, as anyone contorting and scrunching their way into the compromised back seat won’t want to be back there long.

Cargo area is limited on the coupes and convertibles, but the Sportback has nearly 22 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat. That’s significantly more than both the A4 and A6 sedan.

Driving Impressions

For the most part, the Audi A5 line drives as good as it looks. That said, we’d still pass over the 40 TFSI option. Though its appealing base price brings the sharp-looking sedan within budget of more shoppers, its meager 201 hp is a bit of a letdown. It doesn’t have the verve expected of something wearing an Audi badge, despite the relative low weight of the Sportback. Even at 3,700 pounds, a 201-hp Sportback gets out of breath when hustled.

Buyers will be much happier with the 45 TFSI models. Like the 40 TFSI, it’s also a 2.0-liter turbo-4, but power is up 60 horses over the 40 TFSI. That additional power is immediately apparent upon any stab of the throttle, and can be felt whether jumping ahead at a green light or hustling up an onramp. The meatier powerband, though still fairly modest by today’s standards, provides that sense of smug confidence evoked by any properly powerful luxury car.

Both turbo-4s pair up to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic. It works well whether it is loafing around town or dancing up and over some mountain pass. Shifts are crisp, smooth, and well-timed. Paddle shifters are standard, but are awkwardly placed. Best to leave it to its own devices.

All-wheel drive is standard, and though it does offer superior all-weather traction the real benefit is enhanced grip during performance driving. There’s no slippage of the rear end on sharp corners or wheelspin on aggressive launches. The low-profile, performance-oriented tires that come on most A5s and S5s enhance these qualities at the sake of wet-weather confidence.

On most roads, the A5 feels composed and stable, but comes off as a bit soft with the standard suspension tune. Those wanting sportier handling would be advised to buy the sport suspension, which brings 19-inch wheels and firmer tuning. The result is a sharper response and a small sacrifice of comfort. Despite being a bit stiffer than the base setup, it isn’t harsh.

S5 models ratchet up the sporting quotient by a notch or two. Their 349-hp twin-turbo V-6 rockets them to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds. They get summer performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension, and an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic. An electronic limited-slip differential and adaptive dampers are optional and further dial in the performance.

Final Word

Those who pine for the days of attractive, comfortable luxury coupes (or convertibles or sedans) can still get their fix with a 2021 Audi A5. Stylish and well-built, the A5 could be an ideal daily driver for someone who is allergic to crossovers and wants something more distinctive than the average sedan. We’ll take ours as a coupe in Premium Plus trim.

 

—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

You must be logged in to post a comment Login