The Audi S5 is one of the best looking and best performing luxury sport vehicles on the market. It’s the hot sibling of the A5 coupe and convertible. Quattro all-wheel drive comes standard.
Coupe and Cabrio convertible are available, along with a high-performance RS5. The 2017 Audi S5 is unchanged from 2016. A redesigned S5 is coming in 2018.
The S5 upgrades almost everything over the A5 except interior packaging. More speed, more technical features, firmer suspension and better looks.
The styling is getting dated; it remains attractive but it’s not fresh, as the lines have been around for six years or so, as a benchmark for other luxury coupes. Still, overall, we give it an eight out of ten. Naturally, it costs more than the A5.
Base engine is a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 making 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The Coupe comes with either a 7-speed twin-clutch automatic manual transmission, or 6-speed manual. Cabriolet is twin-clutch automatic only. It accelerates from zero to sixty in a tenth under five seconds for the Coupe, and a tenth over five seconds for the heavier Cabriolet.
Fuel mileage is 18/28 mpg City/Highway for an S5 coupe with automatic; the manual is about one mile per gallon less. The S5 hasn’t been crash-tested, but standard safety features include knee airbags, a rearview camera and pop-up rollbars in the Cabriolet.
The two main models are the supercharged S5 3.0T and the RS5 with a 4.2-liter V8, in either Coupe or Convertible. There are a couple trims. Standard equipment includes leather, dual-zone climate control, and satellite HD radio.
Options include dynamic steering, adaptive cruise control, and an excellent Bang & Olufsen sound system. Missing from the options are some of the active safety features available with recent luxury cars. They might be missing but we won’t say they are missed.
The six-year-old design works well, with its classic and classy coupe proportions that are sculpted and flowing. The chunky C-pillars are handsome. The available accent trim with blacked-out details and Black Optic 21-inch wheels looks hot.
Both the Coupe and Convertible are very comfortable in the front. The seats are firm, and supportive, and wide enough for big people. However rear visibility for the driver is poor in the Coupe, on account of the wide C-pillars that make the roofline classic. You can solve this problem by buying a convertible and keeping the top down. The soft top is well insulated when it’s up.
Comfort is sorely compromised in the rear. The seat cushions are too short and flat, a common problem in coupes. To look on the bright side, at least there are seats. And they fold flat.
The cabin finish and materials live and breathe quality, sportiness, and performance. The switchgear can feel excessive and cluttered. There’s a locking glove box and console, and one-liter bottle holders in the doors.
Audi’s MMI infotainment interface is one of the best in its responsiveness, thanks partly to its clear menu. Audi Connect is an optional system with WiFi connectivity for up to eight devices plus Google Earth mapping.
The supercharged engine sounds great from the cabin.
The S5 successfully straddles the worlds of comfort and performance. It’s a versatile and spirited touring car, as the Audi Drive Select system lets the driver select modes with individual settings for the steering, transmission, and throttle, as well as ride stiffness with the optional adaptive damping suspension.
The handling is excellent, and despite the fact that the steering is a bit numb and artificially weighted, it’s still especially nimble. The quattro all-wheel-drive system sends 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels, a good balance, until more traction is needed at the front on slick roads.
The brakes are strong.
The RS5 is an absolute gem, with its sport-tuned suspension, track-capable upgrades, and 4.2-liter V8 making 450 horsepower. The power climbs the rev range with increasing urgency, a reward that the quick 3.0T supercharged engine doesn’t offer (although it’s plenty quick). There used to be a manual transmission in the RS5, and it might be missed by some, given the torque of the V8, however the paddle-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch really works.
If you can find a deal on the S5 because this is its last year before a redesign in 2018, now could be the time to buy. Superb powertrain with the supercharged engine and 7-speed dual clutch transmission, along with excellent ride and sharp handling. The only downside is the pinched rear seat, so it’s not such a great car for more than two people.
Sam Moses contributed to this report, with driving impressions by The Car Connection staff.