Audi A4 vs Audi A5

Audi’s cars look sharp, drive well and have some of the highest quality interiors in the business, so it’s no surprise so many people want one on their driveway. 

But if you’re anti-SUV and want a medium-sized car with five seats you have a choice between the Audi A4 and Audi A5. Not only that – there’s also the Audi A5 Coupe and Sportback to consider. Hmmm.

Let us take you through the ins and outs of them all and help you make a decision.

Looks

The Audi A4, Audi A5 and Audi A5 Sportback all offer a stylish and upmarket look. In fact, from the front, the cars are very similar, with distinctive grilles available in chrome or black (depending on the model) sporting the four-ring Audi badge.

Each has sleek LED headlights as standard, bonnet creases and aggressive front bumpers, although S line models get the sportiest look in each case. There A5’s bonnet is slightly more domed than the A4’s, but you’d have trouble picking them out in a rearview mirror. 

Things start to differ when we move down the side. The A4 is a five-seat, four-door saloon, the A5 a two-door coupe and the A5 Sportback a four-door coupe. As such the A4 has a more uniform roofline and more steeply raked windscreen than the other two cars, while the A5 Coupe is the sportiest looking with its sloping rear roofline. The A5 Sportback has more space for rear passengers, so is still sleeker than the A4 but has a longer roofline.

At the rear, you’re faced with the same problem as at the front – they all look very similar. However, that’s no bad thing, because their sleek LED tailights and sporty rear bumpers are lovely to look at. 

The Audi A4 comes with wheels from 17 inches in size to 19 inches, while the sportier Coupe and Sportback A5s come with wheels between 18 and 20 inches. In all three cases, you can have a more reserved look on SE and Sport trims, or a more aggressive look with S line trim. 

All told, though, the A5 Coupe is sportiest looking of the three cars, whatever the trim. 

Interior style

The interiors of the Audi A4, Audi A5 and Audi A5 Sportback are all very similar, but again, all very good.

Everything is simple, intuitive and stylish. They aren’t quite as sporty as a Jaguar XE’s wraparound design or quite as eye-catching as that in a Mercedes C-Class or C-Class Coupe, but Audi’s numerous aluminium and soft-plastic trims look classy and feel absolutely bulletproof. 

Everything you’ll touch regularly – from the standard leather-trimmed steering wheel to the metal switches on the dashboard – feel a class above what you’ll find in a BMW or Mercedes. You even get posh soft-close lids on the various storage trays and cubby holes.

To complement all these plush, upmarket trims you’d expect leather seats to be standard, right? Unfortunately not on the A4 – they’re an option on entry-level Technik models. However, next-level up Sport trim comes with full leather seats, along with ambient interior lighting. Both A5 models get full leather seats as standard. 

Sportier S Line models come with things like stainless steel pedals, brushed-aluminium dash trims, contrasting stitching and more supportive leather and suede-like Alcantara sports seats while Black Edition versions add a flat-bottomed steering wheel and – you guessed it – black interior trims.

Splash out for a range-topping Vorsprung car and you get electrically-adjustable front seats, heated front and rear seats and an opening sunroof as standard.

Infotainment

Every Audi A4 comes with a bright, high-definition 10-inch widescreen touchscreen atop its dashboard. It might look a bit like an afterthought, but it comes with DAB radio, Bluetooth, built-in sat-nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

Unlike the Audi A4, the Audi A5 and Audi A5 Sportback come with a smaller 7-inch screen on all but the range-topping Vorsprung which gets a larger 12-inch version. Like the A4, though, DAB radio, Bluetooth, built-in sat-nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all standard.

The A5s also come with Audi’s older MMI system with a rotary controller between the front seats, whereas the A4’s screen is touchscreen-only. The rotary dial system is easier to use while driving, but there’s still lots to like about Audi’s latest MMI system in the A4. Its colourful menus are easy to follow, sticking in a destination on the sat-nav is a doddle and it responds quickly to your inputs.

Also standard on every A4 but only on Vorsprung A5s are Audi’s brilliant Virtual Cockpit digital dials. It’s a 12.3-inch display that replaces conventional analogue speedo and rev-counter dials with a configurable screen, and at the press of a button, it can display full-screen sat-nav directions alongside neat digital dials. Not only are they easy to use, but they also look fantastic, lifting the cabin even further.

And there’s good news for audiophiles too. The A4 and A5’s standard 10-speaker sound system is good, but for the best sound experience, you’ll want the 20-speaker, 755W Bang & Olufsen Premium sound system that’s standard on range-topping Vorsprung models, but optional as part of Audi’s Comfort and Sound pack across the rest of the range.

So, the A5’s infotainment is slightly easier to drive while driving, but the more recently facelifted A4’s bigger screen across the range and standard Virtual Cockpit give it the edge here.

Practicality

This is where these cars differ most, and will likely be the dealbreaker come sign-on-the-line time. The first decision to make is how often you’ll be carrying people in the back, and whether or not those people will be adults. 

If it’s adults in the back often, then the Audi A5 Coupe isn’t for you. Its three-door design makes getting to the back seats more of a challenge, and the amount of head and legroom on offer is the worst of the bunch. Small kids will be OK, but that’s about it.

The Audi A4 and Audi A5 Sportback are more closely matched. Both will take four adults in comfort, although the best headroom is to be found in the more upright A4 – the A5 Sportback’s sloping rear roofline makes things a tad tighter. That said, kids will be fine in either.

Talking of kids, happily Audi A4s and A5s all come with Isofix points on their rear outside seats as standard. However, the most practical choice is once again the Audi A4, because it has the best access to them via its rear doors. 

It’s the same story when it comes to boot size – the Audi A5 has the smallest about of space. The Audi A4 and Audi A5 Sportback both have the same amount on paper, but the A5 Sportback’s hatchback-style boot opening is more practical than the A4’s hinged saloon opening. 

Ultimately, it all depends on how you’ll use your car, but the A5 Sportback is the most practical choice of the three cars.

Driving

There’s no shortage of engine choices for the Audi A4 or Audi A5. In fact, you get exactly the same engines to choose between. These are made up of three petrols and three diesels, ranging in power from 150-245hp, but there are a couple of standout choices in both the A4 and A5 that’ll serve you very well.

If you spend most of your time covering shorter distances, mainly in town, then go for a petrol. The 40 TFSI has 190hp, is smooth, quiet, yet easily powerful enough to ensure overtaking is done in confidence. It comes in six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox and will crack 40mpg if driven carefully.

However, if you’re often on the motorway or tend to drive long distances every week, then a diesel might make more sense. The 40 TDI has 190hp, so plenty of poke for motorway slip road sprints and keeping up with fast-moving traffic, yet will return around 60mpg at a cruise. 

The Audi A4 and Audi A5 feel very similar on the road and both are easy and comfortable cars to drive in town. It’s best to keep its alloy wheels as small as possible and avoid the sportier suspension of S Line trim for the best comfort, but even then you don’t crash into potholes or thud into ruts. 

Visibility is good for the driver, although the A5’s thicker rear pillars make seeing backwards slightly more awkward than in the A4. Still,  front and rear parking sensors are standard in any case and the cars’ steering is light enough to make tight manoeuvres a piece of cake.

It’s all good news on the motorway too. The A4 and A5 don’t wander about in their lane and there’s very little wind and road noise inside. The petrol models are especially quiet.

Where the A4 and A5 aren’t quite a good as alternatives is when pushing hard on country roads. Sure, they grip hard and have precise steering, but a BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia are more fun on the right road. 

S Line models have lower, stiffer sports suspension and adaptive suspension is available as an option to improve body control, but even then these cars don’t put quite put as big a smile on your face as some of the competition. 

Verdict

In summary, the Audi A4 and Audi A5 are very similar cars, but there are a few distinct differences that’ll make a big difference to your ownership, depending on your needs. 

If space and practicality are paramount, choose the A4. If you put looks before luggage space, go for the Audi A5 Coupe. Or if you want a blend of both, it’s the Audi A5 Sportback. Remember that the A4 has Audi’s latest (if not greatest) infotainment system too.

Those decisions made, all three cars have beautiful interiors, are good to drive and comfortable and quiet to be in.

Audi A4

Plush saloon is one of the best all-rounders available
8/10
£30,750 - £53,050
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