Carmakers have so many cars on offer that it can be confusing. They have different names, but often share similar parts and even the same platform that it’s hard to tell the difference. Audi is no exception; the Audi A4 and A5 share the same platform, so when it comes to Audi A4 vs A5, which one is better? Is there even any difference?
That’s what we’re going to answer in this post. We’ll take a look at the difference between the two cars. From the engine, interior, equipment, and trim levels on offer.
- Initial Difference
- Exterior Design
- Performance and Reliability
- Interior & Equipment
- Audi Sport
Audi A4 VS A5: What’s The Difference?
The Audi A5 is basically the coupe or convertible version of the Audi A4. It should be as simple as that, and we’re done with this article. However, the presence of the Audi A5 Sportback complicates things a bit more: the Sportback is the four-door version of the Audi A5, which is a two-door version of the four-door Audi A4.
Confused? Don’t worry, we were too when they started doing this trend. This trend started in the late 2000s when German carmakers started making four-door versions of their coupe cars. We believe Mercedes started popularizing this with their CLS, which is essentially an E-Class underneath. The aim is to create a sedan, but with the swooping roofline of a coupe to make it more stylish.
Why don’t they do this with their four-door sedans in the first place? God knows. Despite being a confusing trend, this proves to be quite successful as other carmakers since followed. BMW for example now makes the 4-Series Gran Coupe, which is a four-door version of the 4-Series Coupe.
Now, Audi offers several variations of both their A4 and A5. The Audi A4 is available as a sedan and as an Allroad Quattro, which is a sort of semi-offroad station wagon. Meanwhile, the A5 is available as a coupe, cabriolet, and the aforementioned Sportback.
Since the A4 sedan and A5 Sportback share the most similarities, we’ll be focusing on the differences between these two models. Let’s take a more in-depth look between the two, starting with the exterior:
Audi A4 VS A5: Exterior Differences
Take a look at the side profile and there’s a clear difference: the A4 has your typical flat roofline of any normal sedan. While the A5’s roofline swoops down towards the back, making it look more like a coupe. Conceal the rear door handles and it will look like one.
The rest of the car looks pretty much the same. While the wheels and bumpers will differ depending on the specs, various components such as the lights, the grille, and the side mirrors are identical. However, there is one key difference: the trunk.
This makes the A5 Sportback more practical, as it’s easier to put items in the back. Additionally, you can fold the rear seats down to accommodate larger items, a small tree perhaps. This makes the A5 Sportback similar to a wagon, although there’s still less space than a wagon.
We believe the A5 Sportback looks nicer than the A4. While the rest of the car looks largely the same, the swooping roofline is enough to change the whole profile of the car. The A4 looks business, while the A5 looks more “playful” if you will. Of course, looks are entirely subjective, but we’re giving a point to the A5 Sportback.
Audi A4 VS A5: Performance And Reliability
The A4 and A5 Sportback share the same engine and come in two engine specs: 40 TFSI and 45 TFSI. Both use the same 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine, with the 40 TFSI making 201 horsepower and 236lb-ft of torque. While the 45 TFSI makes 261 horsepower and 273lb-ft of torque.
The 40 TFSI models do 0-60mph in about 6.3 seconds, while the 45 TFSI models do it in about 5.4 seconds. However, both of them share the same electronically-limited top speed of 130mph.
There’s also a bit of difference in how they deliver power. Both A5 Sportback models come with Quattro all-wheel drive as standard. But the A4 40 TFSI comes with Quattro with Ultra Technology. This means the car uses front-wheel drive most of the time making it more fuel-efficient, and only engages all-wheel drive when the car feels it’s necessary.
However, the A4 45 TFSI model comes with Quattro all-wheel drive as standard. This means the car uses all-wheel drive all the time, but regardless, Audi cars still tend to send most of their power to the front anyway.
What Are They Like To Drive?
Since the two cars share the same platform and engines, there’s little to differentiate the two in terms of driving dynamics. Both are comfortable, and yet still engaging to drive.
There’s plenty of steering feel, the chassis feels refined and stable, making it engaging to drive on twisty back roads. But it can still settle down and be a nice highway cruiser. As for the A4 40 TFSI with the front-wheel drive bias, you’ll barely notice it.
Audi has pretty much perfected the Quattro system. At this point, only the keenest of keen drivers will be able to tell the difference when the car engages front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The main difference between the 40 TFSI and 45 TFSI is the power output and the speed. The 201 horsepower 40 TFSI is plenty, but if you’re a keen driver, you’re going to want that extra oomph that the 45 TFSI provides. Not to mention it will make highway cruising much more effortless.
What’s The Fuel Consumption?
The fuel consumption is the same for both the A4 and A5 Sportback, at least according to EPA estimates. The 40 TFSI models will do 26mpg city, 34mpg highway, and a combined 29mpg. Meanwhile, the 45 TFSI does 24mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 29mpg combined. Both cars will hold 15.3 gallons of fuel and are recommended to use premium fuel.
The 45 TFSI will give more power, at the cost of lower MPG. It’s not that big of a difference though, so we think it’s worth it. Keep in mind that these are EPA estimates. It’s not uncommon to see the real-life MPG lower than the EPA estimates due to different road conditions and driving habits. Learn how you can save fuel when driving here.
Is The Engine Reliable?
RepairPal is a network of certified auto repair shops that also happens to give consumer information and reports on car repair and reliability. According to them, both the A4 and A5 Sportback has the same reliability rating of 3 out of 5, which is about average.
This comes as no surprise since the two cars share the same platform and engines. However, RepairPal reports that the Audi A4 costs $925 to maintain annually on average, while the A5 is slightly less at $887.
One of the common problems in the Audi A4 and A5 include thermostat housing leaks. The thermostat is what monitors the temperature of the engine coolant, and it will open and close its valves accordingly to control coolant flow depending on engine temperature. The housing is known to fail prematurely since it’s made from plastic.
When this fails, it’s recommended that you replace both the thermostat and water pump at the same time, as it would be more cost-efficient. But you’ll still be looking at a repair cost of around $1,000.
Another common issue with the engine mounts. The engine mounts in the Audi A4 and A5 use hydraulic fluid to help dampen engine vibrations while driving, which makes driving more comfortable. However, this fluid can leak out causing premature failure of the mounts.
In addition, the longitudinal design of the engine makes replacing it a difficult job. Expect a repair bill of around $1,000 when you replace the engine mounts in the Audi A4 or A5 Sportback. It may be more depending on labor rates. You can learn more about common Audi A4 and A5 problems here.
Audi A4 VS A5: Interior And Equipment
The equipment you get varies depending on which trim you get. Both the A4 and A5 Sportback comes in three trim options: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. Premium will get you standard luxury car stuffs like LED headlights, a touch display 10.1-inch infotainment screen, and Apple Carplay.
Step up to the Premium Plus trim, and you get larger wheels for the A4, Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam assist, top-view camera to help with parking in tight spaces, and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit Plus.
The Virtual Cockpit is a large digital display that replaces the analog tachometer and speedometer. There are multiple dial designs you can choose to fit your preference. And it can also display your satnav, making it more convenient to navigate when you drive alone. Take a look:
As for the Prestige trim, you get LED headlights with Audi laser light, ventilated sport seats, a head-up display, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. The interior is largely the same in both cars. The biggest difference is probably in the back seats, where taller passengers at the back of the Audi A5 Sportback may have headroom issues due to the sloping roofline.
Apart from that, the interior in both cars is the usual Audi business: refined, well-built, but a bit bland. Audi interiors are good and sensible, but they’re rarely exciting, especially in their entry-level cars. This is probably because the B9 platform has been around since 2016.
For this reason, it might be worth taking a look at Audi’s competitors. The 3-Series was renewed in 2018, and a new Mercedes C-Class is coming in 2022, but even the current-gen C-Class still has a great interior. If you’re wondering when the new generation A4/A5 is coming, it’s not coming until at least 2023.
Audi A4 VS A5: Pricing
So, the final topic in this Audi A4 vs A5 debate: let’s talk money. There’s a slight price difference between the A4 and A5 Sportback. The MSRP for the base Audi A4 (the 40 TFSI Premium) is $39,900. Meanwhile, the A5 Sportback’s MSRP is $43,500, that’s $3,600 more. This trend stays across the lineup, there’s a $3,000 – $5,000 difference depending on the trim.
Presumably, you’re paying for the style; the A5 Sportback is simply more stylish, and Audi is charging a premium for that. Keep in mind that in the Audi A5 40 TFSI Premium, you get 18-inch wheels as standard. Whilst the same A4 trim only gets 17-inch wheels. But aside from that, it’s all the same kit.
Here’s the complete MSRP comparison:
- 40 TFSI Premium: Audi A4 ($39,900) & Audi A5 Sportback ($43,500)
- 45 TFSI Premium: Audi A4 ($42,000) & Audi A5 Sportback ($45,600)
- 40 TFSI Premium Plus: Audi A4 ($44,600) & Audi A5 Sportback ($48,400)
- 45 TFSI Premium Plus: Audi A4 (46,200) & Audi A5 Sportback ($50,500)
- 40 TFSI Prestige: Audi A4 ($50,200) & Audi A5 Sportback ($54,100)
- 45 TFSI Prestige: Audi A4 ($50,900) & Audi A5 Sportback ($55,350)
This MSRP is correct as of December 2021. Keep in mind that it’s the suggested price from Audi, and the actual sticker price may vary depending on the dealer and your area. We recommend inquiring to your nearest Audi dealer to get an exact quote, but with the price list above you now have a general idea of the price difference between each model.
As for which trim you should go for, we’ll talk about that later on in our verdict. For now, let’s discuss something more exciting, their performance versions:
Audi A4 VS A5: How About The Performance Versions?
Like its rivals, Audi has a sport line for many of its cars, including the A4 and A5. There’s the S4 and S5 for those who want something a bit more exciting. And for those who want the absolute best Audi offers – and has deep pockets – there’s the Audi RS5.
Unfortunately, the RS4 is no longer available in the US. So, if you’re looking for the fastest compact sedan Audi has to offer, it’s the Audi RS5 Sportback or nothing. Let’s take a look at these performance models:
The Audi S4 starts at $51,900. So, for just $1,000 more than the 45 TFSI Prestige, you can get the Audi Sport version of the A4. Keep in mind that this is for the base Premium version, which means you don’t get the Audi Virtual Cockpit, cruise control, or the top view camera system. For that, you’ll have to pay for the Premium Plus trim.
However, all trim levels come with the 3.0L six-cylinder turbo engine making 349 horsepower and 369lb-ft of torque. That’s good for 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds and an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph.
All models come with 8-speed auto transmission, and Quattro all-wheel drive as standard. The Premium Plus and Prestige trim are available with a Sport rear differential, dynamic steering, and adaptive sport suspension. These options should make the car more fun and engaging to drive.
Speaking of which, much like the ordinary A4, the S4 is both fun to drive and yet still very comfortable. Steering is precise, chassis is refined, and the Quattro system provides immense grip in all conditions.
However, it still lacks the excitement that its rivals offer. Namely the BMW M340i, which offers faster and more responsive steering. There’s also the Mercedes C43 AMG, but that’s no longer available as a sedan and is now coupe only.
If the brand image isn’t a concern, we also recommend taking a look at the Kia Stinger GT. Not quite as luxurious nor composed, but with just around $40,000 you already get the V6 engine with 365 horsepower.
Overall, the Audi S4 is a compelling option. We still think the BMW M340i is more fun to drive, but the S4 strikes a good balance between performance and comfort. If you’d like to know more, read our full Audi S4 review.
Audi S5 Sportback
The S5 Sportback is, as you’d expect, more expensive than the S4. Carmakers love to charge a premium for their “stylish” models. It starts at $54,900 for the base Premium trim and goes as high as $63,000 for the Prestige trim.
Just like the S4, it gets the same 3.0L turbo V6 engine making the same amount of power, with the same acceleration and top speed figures. Options like the sport rear differential, adaptive suspension, and dynamic steering are also not available in the base Premium trim.
Needless to say, the driving feel is the same: sporty yet comfortable, plenty of power, and plenty of grip thanks to the Quattro system. When it comes to the S4 vs S5, it’s really a matter of which one you think looks better. There’s very little to differentiate the two.
As for the rivals, consider the BMW M440i xDrive Gran Coupe. Plenty fun to drive, and with all-wheel drive, it’s going to be every bit as capable as the Audi in slippery conditions. However, the BMW can be a bit uncomfortable in lengthy commutes. You can learn more about the M440i in our full review.
Another rival you might want to consider is the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing. Plenty more speed thanks to a 472 horsepower V6, great fun to drive, and although the starting price is higher at $58,995, it’s still cheaper than the S5 in Prestige trim. It has its flaws, but still definitely worth a look.
Audi RS5 Sportback
As mentioned, the RS4 isn’t available in the US. So if you want an ultra-fast Audi compact sedan, it has to be the RS5 Sportback, and prices start from $76,200.
Unlike the other cars, the RS5 only comes in one trim. This gets you 19-inch wheels, rear sport differential, Bang & Olufsen speaker system, and Audi virtual cockpit all as standard.
As for the performance, there’s a 2.9L six-cylinder bi-turbo engine putting out 444 horsepower and 442lb-ft of torque. This gets you from 0-60mph in a brisk 3.8 seconds and an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. But there is an option to remove this limiter and you can go up to 174mph in the RS5 Sportback.
You also get RS sport suspension as standard, and 6-piston front brake calipers with larger brake discs to help stop the car. However, Audi’s dynamic steering system is still an optional extra. All this means that the RS5 is an absolutely wonderful sports car to drive.
However, the exhaust note is a bit dull, but you can rectify that with aftermarket exhausts. The biggest downside is probably the poor ride quality in its stiffest suspension setting, which can be tiring on long journeys.
The only thing stiffer than the suspension is the competition in this segment. BMW offers the M3/M4 in three different specs starting from $69,900 and all specs have more power than the Audi. It’s a compelling option – if you can look past the hideous grille.
Mercedes-AMG is still selling the C63/C63 S sedan as well, with 469 horsepower even in the base model. And of course, there’s the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio if you’re feeling brave.
Audi A4 VS A5: The Verdict
With a total of no less than 12 variations to choose from (and that’s not even including the Audi Sport models) between the A4 and A5 Sportback, which one is worth your hard-earned cash?
As mentioned, the two cars share the same platform and engines and there’s very little to differentiate the two. So, it comes down to which one you think looks better. For us, we prefer the A5 Sportback. Sure, they charge a premium for it, but the swooping roofline really spices up the look, and we rather like it.
As for the trim, we believe you should go for the Premium Plus with the 45 TFSI engine spec. The Premium Plus trim gets you everything you need; better-looking LEDs, Audi’s virtual cockpit, adaptive cruise control, and plenty of other active safety features. The extra bits in Prestige trim are tempting, but we believe there are no meaningful upgrades in that trim.
As for the Audi Sport models, we still maintain the Premium Plus trim is still the way to go for either the S4 or S5 Sportback. This gets you all the luxury you may want and unlocks sporty options such as the rear differential.
There’s around an $8,000 difference between the standard models and the Sport models. If this difference doesn’t sound steep, we strongly recommend taking the S5 for a test drive and see if you like it.
Finally, if you’re considering the RS5, we recommend also taking a look at the Mercedes-AMG C63S. The powertrain is impressive, handling is precise and exciting, and it’s a handsome car. Hopefully, this has been a helpful guide!
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