Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Large Luxury: 2015 Audi A5

     People who buy sedans tend to make that purchase because it is a practical one, whereas people who buy a coupe make a purchase based on emotions, and for those who buy a convertible, those are the kind of people that say 'I might just take off and head to the beach today.' Thankfully, the 2015 Audi A5 is offered in both coupe and convertible form. Blessed with one of the best AWD systems in the automotive world, a rather refined ride, elegant style and advanced technology, this German coupe impresses in almost every possible way.

Photo from Audi.com
     While the mandatory 4-cylinder engine may feel underpowered to some, the A5 really isn't that much slower than its 6-cylinder powered rivals at legal speeds. If you keep a lid on your spirited driving, you can get gas mileage in the mid-to upper 20's too, which is rather impressive for an all-wheel drive coupe. What's more, you can still get this coupe with a manual transmission, just on the off chance that you are a person that prefers to shift gears on your own. As for the convertible version, it bucks the hardtop trend by only coming with a folding soft-top. Sure, you don't get the extra security of the hardtop, but the soft top doesn't take up nearly as much space as the hardtop would.

The four passenger 2015 Audi A5 is offered in coupe and convertible form. The  latter offers a power folding soft-top, and a wind blocker. There are 3 trim levels for each style: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige.

     The base A5 Premium comes well equipped with things like 18-inch alloy wheels, a tilt only sunroof on the coupe, automatic xenon headlamps, LED running lights and taillights, fog lights, automatic wipers, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather seating surfaces, eight way power front seats, split folding rear seats, a monochromatic driver information display, Bluetooth, a dash-mounted MMI display with a 10 speaker sound system and satellite radio with an iPod interface.

     The Premium Plus adds things like an S-Line trim package, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats and driver memory functions.
Photo from Audi.com

     The Prestige adds adaptive headlamps, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, and the Technology Package which includes a color driver information center, Audi Connect, a navigation system, an upgraded MMI interface with a higher resolution 7 inch screen,front and rear parking sensors, a rear view camera,and a blind spot monitor.

     A5 options are mainly grouped together in  packages.  The Premium is eligible for the Navigation package that adds most of the content of the Prestige. The Premium Plus instead offers the full Technology Package as an option. Available only on the Prestige are the Audi Exclusive Line Interior package which gives you things like contrast piping stitching, upgraded 2-tone leather seating surfaces, and piano black inlays. Also an option is the Driver Assist Package, which gives you adaptive cruise control, adaptive steering and the Drive Select system.

      Offered on both Premium Plus and Prestige are a trio of sportier themed packages. The Sport package includes Drive Select, a sport tuned suspension, front sport seats, and paddle shifters if you have the automatic transmission. The Sport Plus package requires the Sport package, but gives you 19-inch wheels with summer tires, a sport steering wheel, and if you have the coupe, gloss black trim with a black cloth headliner. The S-Line Competition package comes on the coupe only, and requires Sport Plus to be selected, but in turn you get more black exterior trim, leather and faux-suede seat trim, piano black inlays, and if you have the manual transmission, an aluminium shift knob.

Photo from Audi.com
     The all-wheel drive 2015 Audi A5 comes standard with a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder engine that is good for making 220 horsepower, and 258 lb-ft. of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission comes standard on the coupe, while an 8-speed automatic is optional, yet the only choice for the convertible.

 In performance testing, an A5 with the manual transmission did repeated launches from 0-60 mph in about 6 seconds, which is an average time for this type of vehicle. Fuel economy for the A5 is estimated by the EPA at 26 mpg combined for the coupe with the manual transmission. That number drops to 25 mpg with the automatic, while the convertible drops to 24 combined.

     Standard safety features for the 2015 Audi A5 include things like anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side and knee airbags, and for the coupe full length side curtain airbags. A blind spot monitoring system is optional on the Premium Plus and standard on the Prestige. The Prestige comes with optional adaptive cruise control that includes a collision mitigation system with forward collision warning, and automatic low speed braking system.

     In brake testing, the A5 come to a stop from 60 mph in about 110 feet, although similar coupes on summer tires posted almost the exact same numbers as the German coupe.

     As the case with most of the vehicles from Audi, the 2015 Audi A5 earns high praise for its understated yet elegant design and top-shelf materials. Functionality can be hit and miss, however. Performing basic tasks with the standard dash mounted MMI controller requires a few extra steps when compared to the upgraded MMI high interface that comes with the navigation system. The latter benefits from simpler menus, a minimally larger screen, and a more ergonomic controller mounted between the front seats.

Photo from Audi.com
     The comfort of the front seats is almost exceptional on long road trips, but the standard seats lack the type of lateral support that is needed if you are a more spirited driver. Thankfully, the optional sport seats remedy this issue with their rather robust side bolsters and super adjustability. However, there is no fix for the rear seats, as the lack of head room makes them only suitable for smaller passengers.

     Those who opt for the 2015 Audi A5 convertible will appreciate the power operated soft-tops' efficient operation, it only requires 15 seconds to raise, and 17 seconds to lower. With the tight-fitting multi-layer top in place, the interior is so well insulated that you might think that you are driving a normal coupe, not a convertible.

     Even more of a plus, the convertible top doesn't take up that much trunk space. Thanks in part to being a fabric top and not a folding hard-top, the trunk can still fit 10.2 cubic feet of your stuff when the top is folded down. That is only 2 cubic feet less than the coupe! Both body styles give you folding rear seats to increase that number.

    Audis. Of note, the ride quality remains pretty much the same, even with the sport suspension equipped.
Photo from Audi.com
 Though it is not a sports car, the 2015 Audi A5 has a taught, crisp feel on the road combining rather impressive body control with a super pleasant ride quality with trusty traction from one of the best all-wheel drive systems in the automotive world. The sport suspension feels even tighter yet, though it lacks the trick feature of torque-vectoring available on fancier

     Even though it doesn't offer the speed or the sound of its 6-cylinder rivals, the A5's turbocharged 4-cylinder engine provides enough acceleration and above average real world fuel economy. The only time the power disappoints is when you are driving at speeds you shouldn't be driving at on public roads anyhow. Of course, you can buy 2 hotter versions of this car, the S5, and the RS5, if going through the gates of heaven backwards on fire is your type of thing.

     If you are shopping for a luxury coupe or convertible, I'm sure you are more than aware of the options available. The 2015 BMW 2-series and 4-series are certainly fresher and sportier, while the Mercedes Benz E-Class coupe and convertible are almost nice enough to make the stretch. On the American front, the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe delivers almost the same style and performance, while the dark horse of the bunch is the 2015 Ford Mustang, which you can argue is the most civilized Mustang to date.  

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