The Mercedes CLK hasn’t retired, it’s been reincarnated as the Audi A5 8T. Audi A5 8T, a cheaper Mercedes CLS. Audi A5 8T, an A4 B8 that missed reliability hours. And yet, what made the Audi A5 8T so popular?
Launched in 2007 around the same time with Steve Jobs’ iPhone and the movie “300”, the Audi A5 8T came as a logical sequel to the Mercedes CLK: A stylish car with a classic coupe shape, capable of covering great distances in comfort, not necesarilly speed. A Grand Tourer Lite, if you allow me.Launched in 2007 in coupe and cabriolet form, followed in 2009 by the saloon-coupe version, the Audi A5 8T quickly became a popular car among those who chose other paths in life to make ends meet. And it’s easy to understand, the Audi A5 8T is an imposing and beautiful car even in 2022. It’s a car that has aged very well and still looks expensive. What’s more, the differences from the Audi A7 are more insurmountable than Salma Hayek’s shape, making the Audi A5 an even better choice. Plus it was also available with small, 2-litre engines, so you don’t have to complain to the tax and excise department.
However, the Audi A5 8T came during a dark period in Audi’s history, where cars had more issues than those admitted to the University of Life, section without doorlocks and windows. I understand that an expensive car will never be cheap to maintain, but you’d expect at least minimal reliability. The Audi A4 B8 wasn’t a monument dedicated to reliability either, yet somehow the Germans managed to make it even less reliable.
Still, if you manage to maintain her tan, you get a great-looking car even in 2022. Like most 2010s-era VW cars, a lot depends on the engine + gearbox configuration you choose. It just depends on how you tick the options boxes.
Audi A5 8T Engines
- 1.8 TFSI of 160, 170 and 177 horsepower – The entry-level engine in the Audi A5 8T is probably also the most balanced in terms of performance, reliability and consumption. The 160-horsepower is EA888 coded and has a specific situation that we will discuss below, while the 170- and 177-horsepower have serious oil consumption issues. They can easily chugg up to 1 litre per 1000 km, for models with more field experience than Deauxma.
- 2.0 TFSI of 180 and 211 horsepower – Likewise, the 211 horsepower front-wheel drive is EA888. The other two versions are the same with high oil consumption, but at least you get performance to match.
- 3.2 V6 FSI of 261 horsepower – Ironically, the 3.2 FSI antique is also one of the most reliable engines in the Audi A5 8T. An engine rather suitable for the Touareg, Q7 and A8, the old FSI is as gutsy as it is reliable.
- 3.0 TFSI of 272 and 333 horsepower – A vacuum cleaner for money, gas, women and traffic tickets. While generally reliable, this engine doesn’t come cheaply maintained by any means.
- 4.2 FSI of 350 and 450 horsepower – Coming under the hood of the Audi S5 and RS5, the monstrous 4.2 FSI was borrowed from the Audi R8 and S6. Worthy of its own article.
- 2.0 TDI of 136, 143, 170 and 177 horsepower – The same 2.0 TDI used by VW. Coming with common-rail technology, and getting rid of the old oil pump issue but in exchange it comes with bad diesel sensitivity, soot build-up and high-pressure pump issues. Also, the flywheel wears out faster than the morale of a graduate student applying for the first job. All in all, a more reliable engine than it used to be, which breaks down the same way Ricky Gervais does anything new: Rare, but good.
- 2.7 TDI of 190-horsepower – An engine with an existential dilemma. Slightly more powerful than the 2.0 TDI, and slightly weaker than the 3.0 TDI. On tax, it differs very little from the 3.0 TDI so you’d do well to go straight for the 3.0 TDI
- 3.0 TDI of 241 horsepower – An engine bolted to the Audi A5 8T and A4 B8 just for the fun of it, this behemoth is capable of towing whatever contraband you have on you. Good to know, because you need a lot of contraband to pay for the injectors and timing.
Audi A5 8T General Issues
- Petrol engines codenamed EA888, namely the 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TFSI suffer from timing chain stretcher issues. If not replaced, the chain jumps and goes straight into the engine, causing more damage than Phil Swift at Flex Tape.
- Like the BMW E39, the 2.7 and 3.0 TDI diesels have issues with the swirl flaps breaking, falling into the intake manifold and the engine taking more damage than from Phil Swift at Flex Tape.
- Just like the Mercedes CLK, the Audi A5 8T comes with pilarless windows, giving the appearance of glass in one piece. However, some engineers were slightly drunk when fitting the windows and they don’t quite close 100% tightly. Translated in english, it might rain in your car.
- The transmission is of 4 types on the Audi A5 8T. For front-wheel drive models, the automatic transmission is CVT, codenamed “Multitronic”, nicknamed “Multitrauma”. An automatic gearbox full of issues you’d do better to avoid. Then there’s the S-Tronic automatic transmission, basically Audi’s DSG. The oil and filter need to be changed every 60,000 km or you’ll have issues. As for the inevitable issues, you’ll get osteoporosis…that is, you’ll have issues with the Mecatronic unit that just changes, not repairs. The Tiptronic automatic gearbox is fitted to Quattro models and is of decent reliability, as is the manual gearbox.
- The headlights come with LED technology with questionable reliability. Expensive and flimsy, you’d be much better off to go for traditional bulbs if you don’t want to spend hundreds of euros on LEDs alone.
- Electrics of any type tend to get dusty like at a rooftop party. The star of the show is the MMI unit.
- The 2012 facelift model comes standard with electric power steering. Besides the fact that it needs a lot of adjustment, take it for a test drive first and make sure you can live with electric steering.
- The rear space is very cramped thanks to the curved roof. But you’ve got an Audi A5, so you don’t have friends to carry in the back. In fact, you have no friends at all. Because people envy you for having an A5.
- The drain channel under the windscreen has a habit of clogging up and will rain into your engine, next to the ECU. You don’t have to be Einstien to understand that electricity and water don’t mix like incense and heroin. So check the drain every now and then.
Audi A5 8T Verdict
As I said at the beginning, it depends very much on the configuration chosen. If you go for a 2.0 TDI with a manual gearbox, then you have a resonably reliable but lazy car. If you go for a 1.8 TFSI with a manual gearbox, then you have a relatively sporty and relatively reliable car (except for the bombastik oil consumption). In fact, this would be my low-budget recommendation for the Audi A5 8T.
If instead, you need to move around fast, then the 3.0 TDI or 3.0 TFSI are the engines best suited to the A5. Of the two I’d go for the 3.0 TDI, as it moulds better to the A5’s soft, imposing and relaxed character. If you want sportiness, get an Audi TT. If you’re going to travel long distances in style and comfort, then you get an Audi A5 8T.