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Auto review: 2018 Audi A5 Coupe gets a boost in power, technology

The second-generation roadster gets a bold and fresh design, but the priority is still performance. 

The Audi A5 Coupe has advanced into its second generation unscathed. That is, everything folks loved about it has survived.

But the second-generation 2018 A5 Coupe 2.0T also gets a fresh, bold design, more turbocharged power and an available six-speed manual shifter. It has a smarter, more sophisticated cabin with higher-quality materials — and an available virtual cockpit. And, the sunroof slides open now instead of a mere tilt.

Also new for the United States this year is a four-door hatchback, which combines crossover-SUV functionality with sport-sedan performance. It’s called the Sportback, previously available only in Europe, and offers more room for passengers and cargo.

Performance still is the star of the show. Drop the A5 into Dynamic drive mode and it feels like it’s buzzing on one of those high-energy drinks. Throttle response quickens, and the adaptive suspension system tightens. The adaptive suspension is well worth the extra $1,000; it quickly adjusts to the road surface and type of driving, comfort or sport.

The A5 gets Audi’s trusty 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that’s good for 252 hp — up from 220 hp last year — and 273 pound-feet of torque. It can be matched with the manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system is standard on all A5s.

You won’t blow folks off the road with the A5, but it does feel plenty quick. Zero-to-60 mph comes in six seconds, and it has a top speed of 130 mph.

If there’s one area of concern, it’s the steering. It’s adequate in daily driving but lacks the crisp feedback you want in sportier driving. Still, the A5 is well poised on corners and easy to maneuver around town.

Mileage figures are decent with EPA estimates at 24 mpg city, 34 on the highway, for a combined average of 27 mpg.

Inside is where there are drastic improvements for 2018, with dark-brown walnut inlays and excellent fit and finish throughout. It gets ambient LED lighting and a more ergonomic gear selector.

Granted, much of the cool stuff comes as part of a comprehensive Prestige Package that will set you back $7,600. It includes heated 10-way power front seats, alarm system with motion sensors, head-up color display on the windshield, and a sweet 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system.

The tech highlight is the 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display, which allows you to customize the arrangement of driver information. Shrink the speedometer and tachometer and bring up vehicle status data, if you like, or even slide the navigation map from the center screen atop the dash into the virtual display behind the wheel.

Seats are comfortable, supportive, much like the A4. But the backseat of the coupe is a tight squeeze getting in and out, and could use more legroom and headroom, too.

At 11.6 cubic feet, cargo space is below average for this segment but fold the rear seats down and you can fit a couple of suitcases or golf bags. If cargo space is essential, you might want to consider the Sportback version, which has nearly double the space of the coupe.

Standard safety features include rearview camera, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking. A Driver Assistance Package, for $1,800, adds adaptive cruise control that will even stop the car, lane-keep assist, blind-spot warning and rear automatic emergency braking.

All in all, the A5 is a worthy contender in the compact luxury car segment. If it doesn’t sound quick enough, you can always move up to the sportier S5 for more power — 354-hp turbocharged V-6 — and a sport suspension that gives it even greater agility.

2018 Audi A5 Coupe 2.0T

PRICE: $42,800

PRICE AS TESTED: $54,300 (with Prestige and Driver Assistance packages, adaptive damping suspension).

POWERTRAIN: 2.0-liter turbo four with 252 hp, mated to 7-speed S tronic transmission.

GAS MILEAGE: 24 mpg city, 34 highway

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