If you’re looking for a stylish coupe that comes in regular, extra-strength or new faster-acting form, Audi’s 2013 A5, S5 or RS 5 may offer up all the relief you need. In fact, there’s even convertible versions in A5 and S5 form, for those patients looking to supplement their vitamin D intake (or simply work on their tans).
All A5 variants carry a striking design reminiscent of both current and past Audi models, and the automaker is quick to point out that any similarities between the new RS5 and the original Quattro Coupe are intentional. Outside, all models look good in both coupe and convertible form, something that can’t be said for many cars that come in both topless and hard top variants. Inside, there’s the usual quality of materials, fit and finish than have become a hallmark of the Audi brand.
The model range begins with the turbocharged 2.0-liter A5, which produces 211 horsepower and comes in either front-wheel-drive (base A5 Cabriolet only) or quattro all-wheel-drive forms. In case you needed another reason to skip the base Cabriolet, the only available transmission is a CVT automatic, not what we’d call fitting for a car with sporting intentions. Opting for the AWD Cabriolet gets you Audi’s eight-speed automatic transmission, while the coupe is available with either the same gearbox or a six-speed manual. Despite the AWD, fuel economy is quite reasonable, with a manual-equipped Coupe returning up to 32 mpg on the highway. While Audi’s Drive Select System (which tailors steering, throttle response, suspension and transmission profiles to a driver's choice of settings) is an available option, enthusiasts will likely be happier opting for the Coupe’s available sport suspension.
If 211 horsepower isn’t enough to keep things interesting for you, stepping up to the S5 (also in Coupe and Cabriolet variants) gets you a supercharged V-6 good for 333-horsepower and the buyer’s choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. All S5 models utilize Audi’s quattro AWD system, ensuring that no torque is translated into unnecessary (and costly) tire smoke. S5 models also benefit from a standard sport suspension, larger brakes and bigger wheels and tires. The net result is that the S5 is a more balanced car, with higher limits and less pronounced understeer than the base A5. If you want further levels of chassis setup, Drive Select and Dynamic Steering are still available options.
Atop the A5 hierarchy is the new-for-2013 RS 5, which packs a 450-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 between its front fenders. The sole transmission option is the seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic, and power again goes to all four wheels. Unlike the A5 and S5, RS5 models come only in Coupe form, positioning it against rivals like the C63 AMG, the Cadillac CTS-V and the BMW M3.
As with most luxury coupes on the market today, the rear seat is best for occasional use only. Two average-sized adults can fit back there in relative comfort, but entry and exit is still a challenge and the second-row seats simply don’t deliver the same long-distance comfort as the front seats do. Front-row occupants will enjoy better-than-average leg and shoulder room from the well-padded and amply-bolstered seats. If there’s a drawback to the A5, S5 and RS 5 Coupes it’s this: large C-pillars reduce outward visibility, forcing drivers to rely more on carefully-adjusted outside mirrors.
The 2013 A5 range has not yet been crash tested, but safety features, both standard and optional, abound. The same can be said for luxury touches, which include available options like a Bang & Olufsen audio system and voice guided navigation. As you’d expect in a car of this caliber, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control and Bluetooth phone integration are standard.
For a complete look at the Audi A5, S5 and RS5, see our comprehensive review on The Car Connection