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Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today, we revisit the misanthropic pop perfection of the indie British band’s sixth and best album.
In November 1986, a writer for NME visited the flat of indie-pop enigma Lawrence. The mononymous musician lived in a quiet suburb outside of Birmingham, England, alone except for a collection of records, a set of first edition Kerouac paperbacks, and enough cleaning products to stock a small hospital ward. “A platoon of Airwick Solids stoically occupy strategic vantage points; the toilet bowl harbors not the usual one, but a breeding pair of those Cartland-pink santisers; a wicker basket provides a mass grave for spent aerosol air fresheners.” Since he rarely left the antiseptic apartment, Lawrence explained that his days were typically spent wasting time with mundane activities, like assiduously washing his floppy brown hair.

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2019 Audi A5 Review

The 2019 Audi A5 is a coupe, convertible, or Sportback with verve and impressive standard features.

Go ahead, sweat the small stuff.

The 2019 Audi A5 is a two-door coupe, convertible, or five-door hatchback full of details worth exploring. From the sharp creases on its body to its rapid-fire shifts from its 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, the 2019 A5 is comprised of datum that Audi does well.

The A5 does similarly well on our overall scale at 6.8, which is weighted toward the coupe and convertible—the five-door Sportback would do better if rated alone. 

This year, the A5 stays roughly the same as last year. All three body styles are available in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trim levels and cost about $45,000 to start. Coupe and Sportback models cost the same, convertible models run about $6,000 more.

Base models include leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof (unless there’s no roof at all), active safety features including automatic emergency braking, and a 7.0-inch display for infotainment including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Sportback models include a power liftgate.

The A5’s looks—aside from the Sportback—are evolutionary from its predecessor, which we’re fine with. The angles are a little sharper this time around, the grille a little lower and wider, but Walter de Silva’s legendary lines from the original A5 are still largely intact.

Under the hoods of all A5s are a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 248 horsepower teamed to all-wheel drive and a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. A 6-speed manual was available for the A5 coupe last year but was dropped this year. Higher power S5 and RS 5 models are covered separately.

The A5 accelerates up to 60 mph in less than six seconds but is better at a more relaxed pace. Customizable driver settings can dictate throttle, transmission, and steering behavior, and an available sport suspension and bigger wheels can give the A5 a sharper edge.

Coupe and convertible models are nominally four-seaters, but we’ve had better success with smaller company—in number or in stature, your pick.

The front two seats are comfortable for adults with plenty of soft-touch surfaces throughout the cabin. The convertible gets a power-folding soft top that can drop at 31 mph or slower in seconds. The coupe gets a handsome roofline and fat roof pillar that looks great (from the outside) while the Sportback bests them all with its looks and 21.8 cubic feet of cargo room under its hatch.

The Sportback’s 2.4-inch longer wheelbase, compared to the coupe and convertible, goes to rear seat riders exclusively and it’s our pick for comfort and looks.

Testers have given the A5 good marks for crash safety and every model is equipped with automatic emergency braking. Better safety systems such as adaptive cruise control and active lane control are available and can help keep the A5 centered in its lane.

Aside from the basic equipment that’s impressive, tech upgrades such as a larger infotainment screen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster are available.

The little things add up to make a big difference, after all.

Styling
The A5 coupe set the standard for handsome shapes, but the 2019 A5 Sportback’s sumptuous lines are more intriguing.

A showstopper when it was unveiled more than a decade ago, the A5 coupe and convertible have passed the torch to the A5 Sportback as one of the automaker’s best-looking shapes available.

We rate the coupe and convertible here because they’re more common among buyers, and give both above-average scores for their interior and exterior. Opt for a Sportback and those good looks are even better. It earns a 7 out of 10. 

The A5’s evolution has been slow and deliberate. Most buyers may have a hard time distinguishing the coupe or convertible from its predecessor that debuted in 2007.

This year’s two-doors are sharper, leaner, and cleaner, but still conservative.

The fenders boast barely-there “blisters” above the wheels that look a little more macho than the last A5; the grille is a little lower and wider this time around, too.

The A5 Sportback goes further: it combines the A4 sedan’s four doors and wheelbase with the A5 coupe’s roofline and windshield rake for a beautiful five-door look. It’s cribbed from the A7, not a bad thing, but the A5 Sportback lacks the bigger hatchback’s proportions to resolve its roofline.

Inside, the A5’s horizontal themes read subtle, while the overwhelming available tech is anything but. The interior’s flat themes are raised by quality materials and fittings, which include standard leather upholstery, wood trim, and metal accents.

Performance
Base version? Hardly. The 2019 Audi A5 is sharp and quick without sacrificing ride comfort.

There aren’t many roads that the 2019 A5 won’t like.

Audi’s sleek two- or four-door A5 bends toward being a comfortable, sedate cruiser, but its standard 248-hp turbo-4 offers impressive performance when tasked with a curvy road.

We give the A5 points above average for its handling and base engine, which are both impressive. The A5 earns a 7 out of 10 for performance. 

The news this year is addition by subtraction: the 6-speed manual in the A5 coupe is kaput. A 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is standard in all body styles.

The automatic transmission gets capable partners in crime: a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that spins out more horsepower compared to previous generations and standard all-wheel drive that drives the A5 through corners. There’s no hint of turbo lag from the busy engine and the A5 takes just 5.7 seconds to sprint up to 60 mph in all body styles.

Higher power and an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission can be found in the S5 and RS 5 versions, which we cover separately.

Steering wheel-mounted shift paddles are standard on all versions of the A5, although they’re a little thin and small for our liking.

The A5 rides atop standard five-link front and rear suspension setups tuned for road compliance. A incrementally lower, and stiffer, sport suspension is available on all versions of the A5 that firms the ride and adds grippier tires on 19-inch wheels.

A standard drive selection system toggles steering heft, gear selection, and throttle mapping among Comfort, Normal, and Dynamic settings, with a customizable Individual setting for a goldilocks spot.

In each, the steering is accurate and sharp, although predictably light in Comfort and Normal settings.

Comfort & Quality
The 2019 A5 Sportback seemingly is the best of both worlds: beautiful form and useful function.

The 2019 Audi A5 is available as a two-door coupe or convertible or as a five-door hatchback.

Among all three, the A5 has very good standard front seats that are heated and power-adjustable in 10 ways (eight ways in the Sportback), covered in leather, with excellent materials everywhere.

Coupe and convertible models are predictably tight in the rear seats for adults, while the hatchback offers more leg room in the rear seats and utility in its cargo area than both. Our comfort score of 7 is based on its front seats and exceptional fittings and is weighted toward coupe and convertible versions that are more popular with buyers.
All three have comfortable and spacious front seats with plenty of room for tall adults or wide bodies. The fit and finish in the A5 is luxury-grade with standard leather upholstery, metal trim accents, and soft-touch materials.

Optional sport seats go further with better bolstering and support, available on convertible and Sportback models as spend-up extras.

The Sportback’s secret sauce for rear-seat riders is in its extra room; the hatchback’s wheelbase is 2.4 inches longer. The extra space goes entirely to rear seat leg room (32.7 inches in the coupe vs. 35.1 inches in the Sportback) and two adults will easily fit in the back with enough head room for all but NBA players.

Similarly, the Sportback is the cargo champ among the A5 body styles and offers 21.8 cubic feet of room compared to the coupe’s 11.6 cubes and the convertible’s 9.3 cubic feet with the roof up, 7.2 cubes with the top down.

Inside, the A5 is quiet and comfortable with little wind noise filtering into the cabin. Convertibles feature an acoustic roof that keeps its cabin similarly quiet to the coupe with the the soft-top in place but stows neatly in seconds at speeds up to 31 mph when the world begs to come in.

Safety
The 2019 Audi A5 rates highly according to official crash-test agencies.

The 2019 A5 doesn’t just skate on Audi’s impressive track record for safety with most of its cars, it has the official scores to stand on its own.

Federal and independent testers gave the A5 mostly high marks, including a five-star overall rating from the feds and mostly top “Good” scores from independent safety experts.

Those scores, combined with advanced available active safety features earn the A5 an 8 out of 10 on our safety scale.

Federal testers gave the A5 a five-star overall score, including a four-star rating for front crash safety.

Independent testers from the IIHS gave the A5 top “Good” scores on all of its crash tests, but haven’t yet tested the A5 in the newer passenger-side small-overlap crash test. The IIHS rated the A5’s headlights as only “Marginal” but gave the standard front crash-prevention system a “Superior” rating. The IIHS noted that the A5’s standard automatic emergency braking avoided a front crash at 12 mph and slowed the car by 22 mph in the 25-mph crash test.

Outward vision inside the coupe is somewhat limited because of thicker rear roof pillars, which are a signature of the A5 coupe’s look. The convertible’s outward vision is predictably better with the top down, and the Sportback splits the difference between both two-doors.  

Aside from standard airbags and traction control systems, the A5 can be equipped with Audi’s driver-assistance suite that helps keep the vehicle centered in its lane for long distances or stop-and-go traffic. We’ve found that Audi’s system works well and doesn’t pinball between lane markings. It’s not a handsfree system and requires driver input within seconds if it doesn’t detect any pressure on the steering wheel, but it helps reduce fatigue on long drives or endless commutes.

Features
Base versions of the 2019 A5 are well-equipped, but top-trim models are exceptional.

The 2019 Audi A5 is a rarity among luxury cars: it’s well-equipped in base versions.

That may sound like a no-brainer a car that starts at more than $45,000, but other automakers haven’t yet gotten the memo.

The 2019 A5 coupe, convertible or Sportback  is available in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trim levels for about $45,000 to start. A5 coupe and Sportback models cost the same, convertible versions cost roughly $6,000 more and are equipped identically sans hardtop roof. S5 and RS 5 coupe and Sportback versions are covered separately.

Base models include leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof (unless there’s no roof at all), active safety features that we cover above, and a 7.0-inch display for infotainment including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Sportback models include a power liftgate.

That’s good base equipment, including the infotainment screen size. We rate the A5 at a 7 out of 10 for features.

The base A5 is good enough for us, but we admit that luxury car shoppers may need to go further.

Top trim A5s get a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that’s beautiful and functional, parking sensors, a head-up display, an uprated 8.3-inch infotainment screen, driving assistants that we cover above and 19-speaker premium audio for nearly $54,000 in coupe and Sportback trims, and more than $60,000 in convertible models.

Technophiles may want to land at a Premium Plus model that includes all of the base features and the digital instrument cluster and uprated infotainment screen. Those versions cost nearly $50,000 to start and convertible models cost more than $56,000.

Fuel Economy
The 2019 Audi A5 is relatively thrifty at 27 mpg combined.

Three body styles doesn’t make one bit of difference.

The EPA says the 2019 Audi A5 manages 27 mpg combined in every configuration. That earns a 5 out of 10 on our fuel-economy scale.

The whole story: the 2019 A5 manages 23 mpg city, 34 highway, 27 combined, according to the EPA. It makes sense; all versions of the A5 are powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-4 and all-wheel drive.

Among competitors, the A5 does well. The BMW 4-Series rates up to 27 mpg combined with its turbo-4, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupes and convertibles rate up to 25 mpg combined.

All Audi A5s are rated for premium fuel.



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