+ Quality interior finish
+ Numerous engine choices
+ Comfortable and smooth
- Tight rear passenger space
- Not that engaging to drive
- Questionable auto gearbox reliability
Verdict: Although the Audi A5 might lack its rivals' more engaging driving characteristics, it remains an attractive design with a premium interior.
Used Audi A5 (2007-2016) review: the five-minute read
The A5 was Audi’s answer to the BMW 3 Series Coupe and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe. It featured striking lines penned by legendary car designer Walter de Silva and sits on a similar platform to the Audi A4 of the same era. Like its nearest rivals, Audi also offered a Cabriolet model with a fabric roof. On a more practical level, there was also a five-door version called the A5 Sportback.
That elegant exterior is matched with a premium interior that Audis of this era is well known for. It is a design that has stood the test of time. You won’t find any touchscreens or capacitive buttons inside the A5, and everything has a solid and quality feel. Yes, the infotainment is basic by today’s standards, but leaving that aside the A5 is a classy place to sit when driving.
Squeezing passengers into the rear seats can present more of a challenge as it isn’t exactly spacious behind the front seats. While the A5 Cabriolet solves the headroom issue when weather permits, the rear legroom is the primary constraint. If you’re going to have people along for the ride in the rear frequently, consider the sleek A5 Sportback.
With its arrival on the scene in 2007, it quickly became a sought-after coupe, particularly with company car drivers, and Audi provided a selection of diesel engines to suit. These included a frugal 2.0 TDI Ultra that at the time fell under the 19% BIK bracket. A 187bhp version of the same engine gave the A5 a bit more pep to strike the right balance of performance and economy. This engine made for a great motorway mile muncher, but if torque if your thing, then the 3.0-litre diesel V6 is worth tracking down as it had a 580Nm output.
However, plenty of petrol engine options are available, starting with a 1.8-litre TFSI. Despite being one of the least powerful engines available with the A5, it is a willing motor that provides good performance. The 2.0-litre petrol four-pots enabled faster acceleration and were available with a seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission and quattro.
There are tastier engines when you push the boat out a bit further to the S5. Early models employed a 4.2-litre atmospheric engine before being replaced by a 3.0-litre supercharged V6. But Audi didn’t bin that V8; instead, the boffins in Ingolstadt tweaked it further to install it in the RS 5.
This generation of Audi A5 didn’t go through the Euro NCAP crash test, so it doesn’t have an independent safety rating, but that’s not to say that it isn’t a safe car. It is designed and built to the same high standards as many of its rivals, and Audi offered numerous safety and driving assistance systems.
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Used Audi A5 (2007-2016) interior and infotainment
This A5 may have arrived at a time when Audi was producing some top-notch interiors, but the infotainment side of things seems quite basic by today’s standards. A 7-inch TFT display was available, which as part of the Technology Package, included MMI Navigation that relied on a 40Gb hard drive.
Audi’s native infotainment system is quite a simple one in the A5. Being a car that pre-dates touchscreen displays, you get to use a rotary controller and directional buttons to find your way around the system and make various selections. This dial and the other buttons throughout the cabin have a reassuringly solid haptic when used, underlining the A5’s premium credentials. There are six shortcut buttons for jumping between media, phone and car settings.
Similar controls are present for adjusting the cabin’s temperature settings, again with positive ‘clicks’ when turning. There is a smaller volume dial on the centre console in addition to the one on the multifunction steering wheel, although the controls are far more straightforward than today’s button-fest steering wheels. An electronic handbrake frees up more room around the centre console too.
Numerous interior colour and upholstery options were available. For those that wanted something more bespoke, the A5 was also available with the Audi Exclusive line that offered more unique combinations. However, these aren’t always as tasteful as you might expect. On early SE models, the standard seats came with Milano leather in Black, Titanium Grey or Velvet Beige. The latter switched to Chestnut Brown when upgrading to the Fine Nappa Leather upholstery. Audi offered sports seats with Black Leather and Alcantara on S line and Black Edition Plus models. Some interior inserts can seem dated by today’s standards, but up to ten different inlays were available, ranging from Carbon Atlas to a brighter Beaufort Oak.
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Used Audi A5 (2007-2016) practicality and boot space
As is the case with many two-door coupes, when it comes to the practical aspects, the A5 is a bit limited. For starters, getting in and out of the rear seats does require a bit of acrobatics. The seats aren’t the most comfortable either, thanks in part to the limited headroom, short seat squab and minimal legroom. Those in the front will need to move their seats forward to help accommodate anybody in the rear. Obviously, the one way to get around this is to opt for the A5 Sportback, as it gets a set of rear doors and isn’t as much of a compromise in the style stakes.
Much of the interior storage space lies between the front seats. The centre console contains two decently-sized cup holders and narrow rectangular space for smaller oddments. A sliding armrest lifts to reveal some added storage room, and the front door bins can hold smaller drinks bottles.
The boot space measures in at 455 litres and can see its volume increase to 829 litres when the rear seats are tilted forward. If that isn’t quite enough for your needs, then the A5 Sportback may be more useful as its hatchback tailgate not only opens to a more generous angle, but the capacity of the boot is 480 litres and expands out to 980 litres with the rear seats dropped.
Used Audi A5 (2007-2016) engines
A good variety of engines are available across the Audi A5 range in both diesel and petrol form, while the sportier S5 and RS5 add greater performance levels. A 1.8 TFSI petrol engine was available with manual and automatic gearboxes, and this four-cylinder has a power output of 175bhp and 320Nm. A larger 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine has an output of 222bhp and 350Nm, and this engine was also coupled with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive transmission.
With the A5 being a popular car with company car drivers, there are many diesel engines available. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor comes in 161- and 187bhp guises, with that more powerful version also being available with quattro. A 3.0-litre TDI has a 242bhp output and its 580Nm of torque gives it tremendous mid-range performance, including a 0-62mph acceleration time of 5.8 seconds.
Moving up a step on the Audi A5 performance ladder brings the S5. Initially available with a 349bhp 4.2-litre V8, it was replaced in 2011 by a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with a 328bhp and 440Nm output. It could reach 62mph in 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. The RS5 was introduced in 2010 and was powered by the same 4.2-litre V8 as the S5 but with a bump in performance to 444bhp. It was paired exclusively with a seven-speed S tronic gearbox and sounded superb.
The Audi A5 is primarily a comfortable and polished car to drive, though it doesn’t have the same level of engagement that the BMW 3 Series Coupe (and the later 4 Series) provides. A combination of neutral steering and all-wheel drive means it is capable but slightly lacking in the thrills department.
It is also worth remembering that the S line specification added larger wheels and firmer suspension, which resulted in a firmer ride. On one hand that does dial up the sporty feeling when driving but if your typical driving covers poorer road surfaces and speed humps, this specification may not be the best choice.
One aspect where the A5 performs well is over longer distances, thanks partly to supportive and comfortable seats and the economical diesel engines that are available. If you want to get the most from each tank of fuel then the 2.0 TDI Ultra is worth your consideration, although the 187bhp 2.0 TDI is a sweeter engine overall.
Where the A5 claws back some plus points for keener drivers is its larger capacity engines. The 3.0-litre TDI is full of torquey goodness and has a decent soundtrack considering it’s not petrol. Still, the S5’s supercharged V6 is a delight to use for pure smoothness, and the Cabriolet version makes for an even more enjoyable driving experience. The RS5 is more raucous and its quattro all-wheel-drive keeps that power in check.