A carryover model that still stands out. In 2020, the Audi A5 received updated styling, and there’s no question these looks still stand out in the carryover 2021 Audi A5. But the A5 is more than just looks; it’s also about versatility too with a body style for every buyer, roomy Sportback design with 22 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats, and an array of upscale standard features and options that outplay most of its competitors.
All this usefulness and luxury comes at a premium. The A5’s sticker price also stands out from the competition – in a bad way.
A stunning body that’s hindered by a lack of colors. The Audi A5 is a gorgeous canvas upon which to paint. It boasts elegant curves and swoops mashed together with sharp creases and body lines. Pair that with a trio of body options – sportback sedan, coupe, and cabriolet – and there’s an option for everyone.
However, Audi handcuffed its artists with a lack of colors on the palette. Instead of a variety of bold color options to highlight its design, Audi offers just six shades of blacks, whites, and grays and three semi-unique hues: District Green metallic, Navarra Blue metallic, and Tango Red metallic.
Fortunately for Audi, this is a common theme in this class, as the BMW 4-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Volvo S60 all offer equally limited color options.
Inside, the A5 boasts simple elegance with a relatively flat dash, full-width HVAC vents that add an airiness, a sporty three-spoke steering wheel, and a clean button setup. This is all paired with a range of warm interior color options that add variety its competitors lack.
Optional four-cylinder engine hits a sweet spot, but the base engine’s a dud. The A5 boasts a potent 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 261 horsepower and a sub-six-second 0-60 mph time. This engine performs well relative to the A5’s competition, but the issue is this is only in the A5 45 TFSI.
Powering the base A5 40 TFSI is a 201-hp 2.0-liter that lags in the class. The BMW 430i’s base 2.0-liter boasts 255 ponies; the Cadillac CT4’s base 2.0-liter pumps out 237 hp; the C 300’s base 2.0-liter delivers 255 horses; and the base S60’s four-pot injects 250 hp. Heck, even the wildly outdated Lexus IS’ base four-cylinder engine has a 40-hp advantage, though it’s terribly unrefined.
The A5 makes up for its forgettable base engine with sharp suspension and lightning-fast steering. Despite its superior handling, the A5 rides surprisingly soft in daily driving, even with its 18-inch wheels.
Near the top in standard tech. Inside, the A5 comes well equipped with a standard 10.1-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a moonroof, and real leather upholstery. This level of luxury easily beats the 4-Series’ standard leatherette and 8.8-inch touchscreen; the CT4’s leatherette and 8-inch touchscreen; the S60’s leatherette and 9-inch touchscreen; and the IS’ leatherette and lackluster 7-inch touchscreen.
The only way to beat the A5 is to go with the C 300, which boasts a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.3-inch infotainment screen. However, it still has standard fake leather seats.
Safety tech is also top notch in the A5. It features standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and more. This matches virtually every key competitor – yes, even the IS has many of these safety features, but the Cadillac CT4, oddly enough, has no standard active safety features.
All this in the A5 comes in at $42,845 (destination fees included), which is lower than the 4-Series and only slightly higher than the C 300. However, that base price is dramatically higher than the CT4 ($33,990), IS 300 ($39,585), and S60 ($37,045).
Final thoughts. The 2021 Audi A5 is a good middle-of-the-pack luxury option, whether you pick the sportback sedan, coupe, or convertible. In its sportback sedan variant, it offers a balance of performance options, roominess, and loads of standard and optional luxury. However, it falls short in the luxury department compared to the Mercedes C 300 and is surprisingly expensive.
While its optional 45 TFSI powertrain offers performance that’s on par with its competitors, the standard 40 TFSI powertrain leaves it lagging in straight-line performance. The A5 makes up for this with a well-balanced suspension that properly straddles the line between performance and comfort.
For buyers seeking a body that stands out, the A5’s combination of swoopiness and sharp lines does just that, despite its lack of exciting color options. The only model that may grab more attention is the CT4.
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