Car reviews - Audi - A5 - S5 Coupe
Ability to switch between performance and everyday characteristics, typically gorgeous Audi interior, fantastic road holding from quattro diff and AWD, snappy transmission, plentiful power, surprisingly roomy boot
Room for improvement
Not as beautiful as predecessors, pedal and steering response in comfort mode can be too soft, not much else
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18 Apr 2018
BEFORE the fire-breathing RS5 arrived in December 2017, Audi’s third-generation A5 range was headlined by the slightly less savage S5, which was asked to fly the performance flag for the model until its big brother arrived.
Now that the RS5 has landed, the S5 plays the role of the performance car for people who wish to retain the day-to-day liveability that does not always come with out-and-out sportscars.
With a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 under the bonnet and Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system, the S5 is no slouch, and stacks up against the likes of the Mercedes-AMG C43 coupe and BMW 440i.
It is also the newest model of the three, with its second-generation refresh heralding new styling, improvements to the cabin and overall refinements to make it a more compelling package.
And a compelling package it is – one that manages to toe the line between daily driver and weekend weapon with aplomb.
Price and equipment
The S5 Coupe checks in at $105,800 plus on-road costs, pricing it competitively against its primary competition, the 440i Coupe ($101,300) and C43 Coupe ($106,211).
It is the same price as the five-door S5 Sportback, and easily undercuts the drop-top S5 Cabriolet ($119,111) and top-spec RS5 Coupe ($156,600).
Our test vehicle came with a number of options that ballooned the initial asking price, including a Daytona grey metallic paint hue ($1846), 19-inch Audi Sport alloys in 5-arm turbine design ($1100), the quattro sport differential ($2950) and Audi’s Technik package ($5600), which includes matrix LED headlights, tail-lights and daytime running lights with dynamic indicators, all-weather lights and headlight washers, a 19-speaker, 755-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system and head-up display. With the addition of the extras, the S5’s pricetag increases to $117,296 plus on-roads.
Standard equipment on the S5 Coupe includes 19-inch ‘cavo’ design alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, heated and folding exterior mirrors, non-matrix LED headlights, DRLs and tail-lights, privacy glass, red six-pot front and two-pot rear brake callipers with vented discs, S bodykit flourishes, drive mode select, Nappa leather upholstery with electrically adjustable, heated and massage S Sport front seats, three-zone climate control, 7.0-inch infotainment system, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, ambient lighting with five colour schemes and sport leather steering wheel with flat-bottom S design.
The S5 comes as standard with a comprehensive list of active and passive safety features including six airbags, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian assist, adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, pre-sense front, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic assist, high-beam assist, exit warning system, 360-degree cameras with front and rear parking sensors, collision avoidance assist, attention assist, pre-sense rear, ESC with wheel-selective torque control, hill hold assist and tyre pressure warning.
Audi has done a good job of offering a highly-specified vehicle with only a single option pack, meaning one doesn’t need to pillage the options list to find the right level of equipment.
Luxury manufacturers have a knack of offering a billion different options that should really be included as standard for a vehicle priced over $100,000, therefore making the asking price even more unreachable.
While our test car was admittedly fitted with $12,000 of extras, the only one we’d insist on ticking would be the $2950 quattro sport differential. So Audi gets a thumbs-up for the specification levels of the new S5.
For some time now, Audi has been at the forefront of the industry when it comes to interior design, and we are glad to report that the S5 has continued the German car-maker’s hot streak.
The S5’s interior is a potent blend of premium materials, stylish aesthetics and top-shelf ergonomics, with quilted leather upholstery, and carbon-fibre and Alcantara trim elements throughout the cabin.
Audi’s 7.0-inch infotainment system is not a touchscreen, but doesn’t need to be as all functions are operated through switchgear located on the centre console, which are intuitive to use and help the driver better concentrate on the road by eliminating the need to press the screen.
Manufacturers have in recent years gone away from using tactile buttons to operate their multimedia systems, but we like that Audi is sticking to the old-school method with its well-thought-out cluster of buttons and dials.
The multimedia screen itself sits atop the dashboard, but we feel like the glued-on tablet look of the screen would feel classier if it were properly integrated into the dash, or was capable of folding away when the vehicle is turned off. Also, the graphics for Audi’s sat-nav system are starting to look a little dated – however it is a minor gripe as it does not affect its functionality.
Underneath the screen lies the air-conditioning cluster, which takes a minimalist approach for its design, with toggle-like switches for the fan, air-con and vent adjustment.
The small central digital screen increases the size of the icons when your hand hovers over them, which is a nice touch and reinforces the feeling of a premium, intuitive cabin.
Media choices consist of Bluetooth, auxiliary, two USB ports, CD player, DAB+ digital radio and Audi’s smartphone interface system. A 12V port is also available on the centre console.
Two cupholders are embedded into the centre console, while the flat gear lever allows you to rest your left arm comfortably when driving.
Volkswagen Group’s virtual cockpit digital instrument cluster is an excellent addition to the S5, which arranges information and graphics in a sensible and ergonomic manner, and allows for a wide scope of customisation. The optional colour head-up display is also a nifty addition.
The flat-bottom S Sport steering wheel feels comfortable in the hands, as do the subtle paddle shifters. Operation of the multimedia interface is hassle-free with the S5’s steering wheel-mounted controls.
Audi’s quilted leather seats are very comfortable, offering lumbar and lateral adjustment, as well as heating and massage function. The seating position gives the driver good road vision while still remaining sporty and low to the ground.
As is the case with many coupes, the S5’s doors are long and can make ingress and egress difficult when parked in tight spaces.
Rear legroom is reasonable for a two-door car, however headroom is tight for anyone over six feet tall.
Boot space is generous for a coupe in both depth and length – avid golfers should have no problem owning an S5 – while four tie-down points and a pair of storage nooks add to its versatility.
Audi has produced another stylish, functional and comfortable interior with the S5, adding to the car-maker’s reputation as one of the best cabin designers in the industry.
Engine and transmission
Powering the S5 is a 3.0-litre turbocharged TFSI V6, producing peak power of 260kW from 5400-6400 rpm and 500Nm of torque from 1370-4500rpm.
Outputs are up 15kW/60Nm over the old model, while a supercharger has been replaced in favour of a turbocharger. Overall engine weight has dropped 14kg to 172kg.
Power is delivered via an eight-speed Steptronic torque-converter automatic transmission, which drives all four wheels using Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system. As standard it sends 60 per cent of torque to the rear wheels, but can adjust on the fly to send up to 85 per cent to the rear or 70 per cent to the front, as the situation demands.
According to official figures, the zero to 100km/h sprint can be completed in 4.7 seconds, while average emissions stand at 171 grams of CO2 per km.
Audi has done a great job of giving the 3.0-litre V6 different personalities, where it is equally at home doing a shopping run as it is on twisty back country roads.
When required, the powertrain is polite and reserved with gentle throttle response and smooth gearshifts.
However, changing the drive mode settings can quickly turn the force-fed bent-six into a snarling beast that will satisfy the performance needs of all but the most demanding drivers.
There exists a small amount of turbo lag off the line, but once spooling, power delivery is rapid and formidable with strong acceleration just about anywhere in the rev range.
Around town and on the highway, the engine is quiet and reserved, but when pushed, produces a high-pitched whine with typical turbo whistle that pops and crackles on gear changes.
In comfort mode, pedal response can be a bit doughy, however the configurable dynamics feature can sort that problem out.
The eight-speed Steptronic automatic is a great gearbox, offering razor-sharp gear changes when using the steering wheel-mounted paddles and intuitive shifting in automatic mode.
Not using a dual-clutch box also means the idle-stop function is far less jarring, a problem that plagues VW Group models employing a DSG transmission.
The gear changes are particularly smooth in comfort mode, while sport mode produces slightly jolting shifts.
In our time in the car we recorded a fuel economy of figure of 9.3 litres per 100km with a mix of spirited back-road driving and highway cruising, up on the official combined figure of 7.5L/100km.
The S5 is proof that you don’t need 400kW-plus under the bonnet to experience heart-racing performance, while the driveline’s versatile nature means it is just as suited as a daily driver as it is a surgical knife cutting through twisty mountain passes.
Ride and handling
Despite its ‘S’ badge, the S5 has a generally comfortable ride regardless of whether comfort or sport mode is selected, even though it wears 19-inch alloys.
Even though it is a sportscar first and foremost, it is surprisingly liveable with long trips enjoyed in comfort without the bone-jarring suspension calibration of many performance models.
One of the most impressive aspects of the S5 is its prodigious grip and handling ability in corners, no doubt aided by the all-wheel drive and optional sport differential, which we recommend be fitted by anyone looking to really test out the dynamic ability of their S5.
At no point does the S5 feel like coming unstuck, even when pushed into and out of twisting bends, while power is able to be comprehensively put down to the road with minimal interference from the car’s traction control systems.
Pushing the car hard leaves you feeling supremely confident of its abilities, and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable driving experience.
Stopping power is also ample, while body roll is well contained in comfort mode and minimal in sport mode.
Steering response can be a tad light and vague in comfort mode, however changing to sport mode both sharpens response and gives the steering a heavier feel, allowing for better feedback.
Audi gets a big thumbs up for how it has made the S5 handle and ride whether driving gently or aggressively, with its ability to stick to the road when pushed a real standout.
Safety and servicing
In 2015, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) tested the mechanically related A4 sedan which also applies to A5 variants, handing down a five-star rating.
The A4 scored 89 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection and 75 per cent each for safety assist and pedestrian protection.
Audi offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty across its vehicle range, while scheduled servicing covers three years/45,000km – whichever comes first.
Instead of individual payments, Audi charges S5 owners a fee of $1670 for all schedules maintenance over that period.
Audi has proved with the S5 that you don’t need the top-spec model with the most power to enjoy a complete, dynamic driving experience.
It has all the power one realistically needs, with brilliant handling and a surprisingly supple ride that makes it an accessible daily driver.
We feel that the exterior design is not as timeless as the original A5, however interior design keeps moving onward and upward for the German brand.
The interior is also comfortable and roomy, traits that not every sportscar can lay claim to.
Anyone looking for a sportcar for around the $100,000 mark but doesn’t want to sacrifice liveability should have the S5 Coupe on their shortlist.
Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe from $106,211 plus on-roadsMercedes-AMG’s C43 Coupe packs a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 punch producing 270kW/520Nm, with a nine-speed auto and all-wheel drive. It also gains a sharp interior layout and beautiful exterior styling.
BMW 440i Coupe from $101,300The Munich-derived 4 Series coupe employs BMW’s gorgeous inline six-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 240kW/450Nm, fed to the rear wheels via an eight-speed auto. The 440i also features more subtle styling than its competitors, and can be optioned with a six-speed manual at no cost.
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