Are coupes back in vogue? Audi would have you think so. The all-new performance-oriented S5 and its layman twin, the A5, are aimed straight for their fellow two-door heartthrobs: the BMW 3 Series coupe and Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class. The S5 gets a 354-horsepower V-8, all the better to compete with BMW's forthcoming M3 coupe.
Manual-transmission S5s hit dealerships in November 2007; automatic-equipped versions will come four months later, Audi says. All-wheel drive is standard across the line.
The S5 is instantly recognizable as an Audi, with the brand's customary wide-mouth grille flanked by lower air intakes. The car seems downright angry; the grille has more teeth than the A5, thanks to vertical chrome bars, and the bumpers are new, with more-pronounced lower air ducts. Other changes include aluminum side mirrors, four exhaust pipes, unique 19-inch wheels and black brake calipers. Underneath, a sport-tuned suspension promises better cornering.
The S5's dashboard looks much like that of Audi's larger A6. A broad dome overlaps the gauges and central information screen, which incorporates the optional navigation system. Tri-zone automatic climate control, leather seats and Audi's Multi-Media Interface are standard. The MMI system governs various functions — including the navigation system — with a central knob behind the gearshift. Thanks to more than a dozen shortcut buttons surrounding the knob, it's easier to use than BMW's similar iDrive, but uninitiated drivers may find it confusing.
Sport seats are standard, as are custom gray gauges. The S5 has an extensive range of materials to choose from, including two-tone leather/Alcantara seats and aluminum, wood or piano-black dashboard trim.
The trunk holds a sedan-like 16.1 cubic feet of luggage, much more than the 3 Series coupe (11.1 cubic feet) or the CLK (10.4).
Under the Hood
The S5 has a direct-injection 4.2-liter V-8 that's good for 354 hp and 325 pounds-feet of torque.
Audi offers a choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. Unfortunately, the automaker's expedient Direct Shift Gearbox, which can manage quicker shifts than most stick-shift drivers, is not available.
Quattro all-wheel drive is standard; in normal conditions, it channels 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels. With the manual transmission, Audi says the S5 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in about 5 seconds.
Six standard airbags include the required front ones, as well as side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for both rows. Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes and traction control are also standard, as are high-performance brakes and a stability system whose intrusiveness can be ratcheted down, but still activated, for sportier driving.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Mike Hanley||Cars.com National||November 30, 2007|
|Kelsey Mays||Cars.com National||April 17, 2007|
|Bob Golfen||AZCentral.com||April 3, 2008|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||December 28, 2007|
|Sara Lacey||Mother Proof||December 10, 2007|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||November 21, 2007|
|Scott Burgess||The Detroit Newspapers||October 3, 2007|
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