2019 Audi A5 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Beetle

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A5 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Volkswagen Beetle doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The A5’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Beetle doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The A5 has standard Pre Sense City, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Beetle doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The A5 has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Beetle doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The A5 Prestige’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Beetle doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The A5 Prestige has a standard Top and Corner View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Beetle only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

Both the A5 and the Beetle have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Audi A5 Coupe is safer than the Beetle:

A5

Beetle

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

POOR

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

2 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

1.6/1.2 kN

2.19/1.63 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

MARGINAL

GOOD

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A5 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 155 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Beetle was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

The A5 comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. Audi will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Beetle.

The A5’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Beetle’s (12 vs. 10 years).

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the A5 has a standard 420-amp battery. The Beetle’s 380-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the A5 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the A5’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Beetle’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 9 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The A5’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 74 more horsepower (248 vs. 174) and 89 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 184) than the Beetle’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the A5’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Beetle doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the A5’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Beetle doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission and Drivetrain

A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is standard on the Audi A5, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Beetle.

The A5 offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Beetle doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

All wheel drive, available in the A5, provides the best traction for acceleration in wet, dry, and icy conditions. In corners, all wheel drive allows both outside wheels to provide power, balancing the car. This allows for better handling. The Volkswagen Beetle is not available with all wheel drive.

The A5 Auto’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Beetle doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A5’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Beetle:

A5

Beetle

Front Rotors

13.3 inches

11.3 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

10 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A5 has larger standard tires than the Beetle (245/40R18 vs. 215/55R17). The A5’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Beetle (255/35R19 vs. 235/45R18).

The A5’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Beetle S’ standard 60 series tires. The A5’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Beetle’s optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A5 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Beetle S. The A5’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels optional on the Beetle.

Suspension and Handling

The A5 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Beetle’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A5’s wheelbase is longer than on the Beetle:

A5

Beetle

Coupe

108.8 inches

100.1 inches

Convertible

108.9 inches

100.1 inches

Passenger Space

The A5 Coupe has 1.3 inches more rear legroom and 1.7 inches more rear shoulder room than the Beetle Coupe.

The A5 Convertible has .7 inches more front headroom, 1.7 inches more rear legroom and 3.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the Beetle Convertible.

Cargo Capacity

The A5 Cabriolet has a much larger trunk with its top up than the Beetle Convertible (9.3 vs. 7.1 cubic feet).

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the A5’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Beetle doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

With its coupe body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the A5 offers cargo security. The Beetle’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just kicking your foot under the back bumper can open the A5’s available trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The Beetle doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The A5 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Beetle uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The engine in the A5 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Beetle. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the A5, the optional memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, suspension setting and outside mirror angle. The Beetle doesn’t offer a memory system.

The A5 Prestige has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Beetle doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the A5 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. The driver of the Beetle can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The A5’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Beetle S’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The A5 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Beetle only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the A5 Prestige detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Beetle doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the A5 Coupe has standard extendable sun visors. The Beetle doesn’t offer extendable visors.

When the A5 with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Beetle’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The A5 offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Beetle offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the A5 and the Beetle offer available heated front seats. The A5 Premium Plus/Prestige also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Beetle.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the A5 Premium Plus/Prestige keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Beetle doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the A5 Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Beetle doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The A5 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Beetle SE/SEL.

Both the A5 and the Beetle offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the A5 has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Beetle doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the A5 Prestige has a standard Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Beetle doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The A5’s standard separate stalk mounted cruise control is close at hand. The Beetle’s standard cruise control is on an over-crowded turn signal stalk.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Audi A5 offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Beetle doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The A5 Prestige’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Beetle doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Audi A5 comes in coupe, convertible and four door hatchback bodystyles; the Volkswagen Beetle isn’t available as a four door.

Economic Advantages

The A5 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the A5 will retain 45.52% to 48.51% of its original price after five years, while the Beetle only retains 40.49% to 41.25%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A5 is less expensive to operate than the Beetle because typical repairs cost much less on the A5 than the Beetle, including $109 less for a muffler, $163 less for a timing belt/chain and $450 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

J.D. Power and Associates rated the A5 second among compact premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Beetle isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Audi A5/S5 outsold the Volkswagen Beetle by 80% during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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