The new Audi A5’s interior also apes the best parts of the A4: high-quality materials, excellent fit and finish, and a big emphasis on technology. The rather comprehensive Prestige Package ($7,600) adds heated front leather seats, LED headlights, an upgraded sound system, a head-up display, 360-degree cameras, navigation and Audi Virtual Cockpit, a large color screen that serves as your instrument panel (separate from the display mid-dash).
There’s a lot of technology in the Audi A5 (especially with the Prestige Package), but using it can be cumbersome in some cases. For example, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard, which is good. But the A5’s screen (as is true in many Audi models) is mounted high up on the dash and out of reach, and it isn’t even a touchscreen. So to use those systems, which have clearly been designed for touchscreens, you have to resort to the multifunction rotary dial controller. As with many of the A5’s technology features, the functionality is there, but getting to it can be a chore.
Virtual Cockpit replaces the instrument panel with a 12.3-inch display that’s highly customizable: The tachometer and speedometer can be shrunk to open a larger display area showing things like vehicle status or your choice of map or Google Earth views. Interestingly, though, if Android Auto is activated, the Google Earth view and navigation map views are disabled and you’ll see only a large, comparatively useless compass in the virtual cockpit.
Ultimately, none of these quirks were deal-breakers for me; the system is fast and responsive to inputs, minimizing the nuisance of having multilayered menus. The other technology additions are welcomed additions and the inclusion of a 360-degree camera system (even on a smaller car like this) is always welcome.
How’s the Space?
If there’s a weakness to the Audi A5 interior, it’s backseat room. The car’s low-slung proportions make it a tight squeeze back there, and while there’s enough space to navigate the legroom issues if both passengers collaborate, the larger issue is headroom. The roof fed into the rear window right where my head sat (I’m 5-foot-11), impeding headroom. I had to slouch a bit to feel comfortable and not worry about the top of my head bonking the glass if we hit an unexpected bump.
Trunk volume is 11.6 cubic feet, slightly below the A4 sedan’s 13.0 cubic feet. While the cargo area isn’t very tall, it is deep, so it swallows up luggage nicely. Dropping two segments of the 40/20/40-split rear-seat also allowed me to fit three golf bags in back, which nicely matched the number of occupants who could still fit inside.
Safety and Driver Aids
My test vehicle came equipped with a Driver Assistance Package ($1,800) that added adaptive cruise control (which operates to a stop), lane keep assist, high beam assist, blind spot detection and traffic sign recognition. Audi’s systems work as advertised. The lane keep assist operates subtly under most circumstances, keeping the car centered in its lane, not merely correcting after it strays.
There was one feature, however, that I was not ready for: The adaptive cruise control works with traffic sign recognition to power a feature Audi calls Predictive Control. When activated, the system changes the speed of the adaptive cruise control when it detects a change in the speed limit. So if you’re cruising along at 65 mph and pass a sign dropping the speed limit to 45 mph, the system adjusts accordingly. There are ups and downs to this system, which I detail here, but I’d leave it turned off the vast majority of the time; managing speed is something I still like to do myself at this point.
The 2018 Audi A5 starts at $43,775 including destination, but my test vehicle gleefully tacked on options to bump the as-tested price to $55,300. Additions included the two big option packages mentioned (Prestige Package and Driver Assistance Package), as well as Glacier White Metallic paint ($575), an adaptive suspension ($1,000), Dark Brown walnut wood interior accents ($350) and a heated steering wheel ($200).
There are many times when these heavily optioned luxury vehicles don’t feel as though they match up to their lofty price tags, but the Audi A5 was the opposite for me. Interior materials are up to snuff, performance is impressive and technology is plentiful. My only hang-up would be a preference for the added utility of an Audi A4: greater passenger and cargo room, with analogous performance. Either way, though, you’ll end up with a winner.