2010 Audi S5

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Key Specs

of the 2010 Audi S5. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Acceleration
  • Braking
  • Cabin materials
  • All-weather capabilities
  • Folding rear seat
  • Backseat space

The Bad

  • Clutch can be tricky at low speeds (manual coupe)
  • Too much steering assist for a sports car
  • Moonroof doesn't retract (coupe)
  • Highway wind noise (convertible)
  • Nose-heavy handling (convertible)
  • Navigation system needs more street labels

Notable Features of the 2010 Audi S5

  • Performance offshoot of the A5
  • New convertible model
  • 4.2-liter V-8 (coupe)
  • 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 (convertible)
  • Rear-biased AWD
  • Partial-LED headlights

2010 Audi S5 Road Test

Kelsey Mays

Audi positions both its A5 and S5 convertibles to compete with luxury droptops like the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37 and Lexus IS C, and the German automaker is onto something with the S5. Though pricier than its peers — and perhaps a bit more nose-heavy than its A5 sibling — it delivers a unique brand of fun that's worth checking out.

In an age when folding metal hardtops are becoming the norm, however, some will be turned off by the S5's cloth soft-top. It will be interesting to see if the car's comparative versatility is attractive enough to make up for it.

The A5 and S5 coupes are identical cars, save their performance aspects, and both are newly available as convertibles for 2010; the Germans call them cabriolets, but I'll stick to English. The A5 and S5 convertibles succeed the dated A4 and S4 convertibles; click here for a comparison of all four models. I'll focus here on the S5's performance aspects. For a broader review of the car, check out our A5 convertible review here.

 

Supercharged V-6
Like the redesigned S4 sedan, the Audi S5 convertible gets a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. Fire it up, and the 333-horsepower engine settles into a low, flat burble. I'll admit it — at times, I found the noise taxing, but I'm not one to crank the bass on my stereo. (In my well-worn Toyota, such shenanigans might blow out a speaker … or an A-pillar.) Past idle, the exhaust turns into a higher whine I'll take any day over the 211-hp A5's gravelly roar. T...

Audi positions both its A5 and S5 convertibles to compete with luxury droptops like the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37 and Lexus IS C, and the German automaker is onto something with the S5. Though pricier than its peers — and perhaps a bit more nose-heavy than its A5 sibling — it delivers a unique brand of fun that's worth checking out.

In an age when folding metal hardtops are becoming the norm, however, some will be turned off by the S5's cloth soft-top. It will be interesting to see if the car's comparative versatility is attractive enough to make up for it.

The A5 and S5 coupes are identical cars, save their performance aspects, and both are newly available as convertibles for 2010; the Germans call them cabriolets, but I'll stick to English. The A5 and S5 convertibles succeed the dated A4 and S4 convertibles; click here for a comparison of all four models. I'll focus here on the S5's performance aspects. For a broader review of the car, check out our A5 convertible review here.

 

Supercharged V-6
Like the redesigned S4 sedan, the Audi S5 convertible gets a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. Fire it up, and the 333-horsepower engine settles into a low, flat burble. I'll admit it — at times, I found the noise taxing, but I'm not one to crank the bass on my stereo. (In my well-worn Toyota, such shenanigans might blow out a speaker … or an A-pillar.) Past idle, the exhaust turns into a higher whine I'll take any day over the 211-hp A5's gravelly roar. The engine pulls strong as revs build higher, but its character comes closer to the G37's normally aspirated V-6 than it does to BMW's turbocharged six-cylinder. There's no wall of grunt early on. Push harder, and the engine turns out thrust comparable to the 335i's — and then some, evidently. BMW says an automatic 335i convertible takes 5.7 seconds to hit 60 mph. Audi says the S5 does it in 5.1 seconds.

So why, despite taking longer to get up and go, does the Audi S5 win the race? Some credit belongs to the traction advantage of the S5's standard Quattro all-wheel drive; other credit belongs to Audi's marvelous dual-clutch seven-speed automatic. It pops through gears far swifter than any stick-shift driver could, with short ratios that allow the engine to hit its stride lickety-split. Upshifts come with virtually unbroken power delivery and, under hard acceleration, a satisfying exhaust pop. (Audi says the noise is a result of latent ignition to manage smoother gear transitions — not the backpressure release that's typically responsible for exhaust barks.)

Activate the automatic's Dynamic mode, and it fetches lower gears to power through corners or accelerate up on-ramps with near-instinctive response. Even in the transmission's in-between Auto or cushier Comfort settings, kickdown happens without too much delay. In any of the three modes, the transmission comports itself far smoother at low speeds than most dual-clutch automatics.

The standard four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are larger here than in the A5. The pedal delivers firm stopping power, and it's easy to fine-tune your deceleration. Hammering the brakes on hilly roads all afternoon, I didn't find any objectionable levels of brake fade.

At least for the foreseeable future, the Audi S5 coupe will retain its 4.2-liter V-8. That marks a reversal of earlier plans to switch to the supercharged V-6. Count me pleased; dismal gas mileage notwithstanding, other Cars.com editors are a big fan of the 4.2. The S5 convertible, at least, gets a respectable EPA-rated 17/26 mpg city/highway. Here's how the engines compare:

Drivetrains Compared
  S5 convertible S5 coupe
Engine 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 4.2-liter V-8
Horsepower (@ rpm) 333 @ 5,500-7,000 354 @ 7,000
Torque (lb-ft, @ rpm) 325 @ 2,900-5,300 325 @ 3,500
Driveline All-wheel drive All-wheel drive
Transmissions 7-speed dual-clutch auto 6-speed manual or six-speed auto
Base curb weight (lbs.) 4,310 3,858
Acceleration (0-60 mph, sec.) 5.1 4.9 (manual), 5.1 (auto)
EPA mileage (city/hwy., mpg) 17/26 14/22 (manual), 16/24 (auto)
Recommended fuel Premium Premium
Source: Manufacturer and EPA data

 

Ride, Handling & Audi Drive Select
Comfort, Auto and Dynamic modes are part of the S5's optional Audi Drive Select system, which our test car had. ADS allows drivers to toggle the aforementioned transmission response among the three settings. You can do the same with accelerator sensitivity, steering response and the firmness of the S5's optional adaptive suspension. Changes between the ADS settings are difficult to detect across suspension and accelerator settings, but ride comfort is generous in any case. Over broken pavement, however, I noticed more cowl shake than I did in the A5 convertible we evaluated last fall.

Characteristic of an Audi, the S5 in Comfort mode takes light effort to steer at low speeds — but it feels too artificial, never unwinding to center as naturally as I'd like. On the highway, the wheel seems a bit loose, requiring too many minor corrections to stay on track. Auto or Dynamic settings remedy much of this: The wheel takes on a firmer, more secure feel at high speeds, and there's more feedback from the road. The wheel requires more effort to turn at low speeds, but on curvy roads it rewards drivers with confident precision that's easy to fine-tune.

Still, the Audi S5 feels a bit nose-heavy compared with the A5. Audi's rear-biased Quattro — with an optional rear differential that routes more power to the outside wheels during corners — can't mask the extra drivetrain weight up front, and the S5 feels more prone to understeer than the remarkably neutral 2.0-liter A5.

From the Top
Check out the "Topping Things Off" section in our A5 review for a full assessment of the S5 soft-top versus its hardtop competition. The top powers up and down in less than 20 seconds, while the G37 and Volvo C70 each take 30 seconds. Like the hardtops, it requires no latches to secure or undo. Another major plus: The S5's trunk loses only about a quarter of its 10.2 cubic feet when the top is folded. (Audi doesn't have specific figures for trunk intrusion, so I eyeballed it.) Folding hardtops, in comparison, are large contraptions that take up, at minimum, half their trunk's space — and often much more.

Such are the inherent advantages of a soft-top. Consider, for example, that Mercedes-Benz says the soft-top on its 2011 E350 convertible takes 20 seconds to raise or lower, and it takes up less than one-fourth of the trunk's 13.8 cubic feet.

On the downside, wind noise in the Audi S5 starts to creep up by 60 mph or so. Generally speaking, hardtops are as quiet inside as coupes. Also, if you like the spectacle of a folding hardtop in action — even a dozen years after seeing the first Mercedes SLK, I'll admit it's still kind of neat — the S5's soft-top just won't do.

The Inside
The Audi S5's cabin materials are consistently good, but I've never been a huge fan of Audi's controls. Elements from the window switches to the turn signals feel too rubbery in some places, too brittle in others. Still, the S5's cabin should please, with high-rent leather-wrapped features and enough room for adults to get comfortable.

The rear seats are workable for adults, which is impressive. Even more impressive: They fold down to accommodate larger items from the trunk. Most convertibles offer, at most, a center pass-through for skis. Add that to a number of other touches — power-extending seat belt hooks for the driver and front passenger, a height- and length-adjustable center armrest, the convertible top's minimal trunk intrusion — and it's clear that, for a convertible, the S5 packs a lot of versatility.

Audi's third-generation Multi Media Interface uses a knob controller to operate the navigation and stereo systems. Optional on the S5, it's an improvement over prior MMI generations, but still far from perfect. See the "Updated Multi Media Interface" in our Q5 review to learn more. (The forthcoming A8 has an improved version of MMI, and it's likely the S5 will adopt it somewhere down the road. Check it out here.)

Safety, Features & Pricing
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn't crash-tested the A5 or S5. Standard features include frontal and knee airbags, as well as front-seat-mounted side airbags designed to protect occupants' heads and torsos. Antilock brakes and an electronic stability system round things out. Click here to see the full list.

Available in Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels, the Audi S5 convertible starts at a pricey $58,250 — nearly $6,000 more than the S5 coupe and $10,650 more than an A5 Premium Plus convertible. (Compare it with the base, front-wheel-drive A5 Premium convertible, and the difference works out to a staggering $16,250.) Standard features include all-wheel drive, power-adjustable sport seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated leather upholstery and an iPod-compatible stereo.

Options include a navigation system and backup camera, Audi Drive Select, an adaptive suspension, keyless startup and a Bang & Olufsen stereo. Fully loaded, the S5 crests $70,000 — a few grand over a loaded 335i, and an entire Honda Fit beyond the price where the Lexus, Volvo and Infiniti top out. (Mercedes hasn't yet priced the new 2011 E350 convertible, but its predecessor, the soft-top CLK350, tops out around $70,000.)

S5 in the Market
Sales for the A5 and S5 amount to a drop in Audi's bucket, but it's steadily becoming a bigger drop. That can only improve with the introduction of convertible variants. Sharp styling, unlikely versatility and a snappy drivetrain give the Audi S5 a fighting chance, despite the absence of a retractable hardtop. In an economy most would characterize as dubious, though, I wish the car wasn't so doggone expensive.

Send Kelsey an email  

 


2010 S5 Video

Cars.com's Kelsey Mays takes a look at the 2010 Audi S5. It competes with the 335i Convertible.

Latest 2010 S5 Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.9)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

The most amazing car that you may not suspect

by Rondu from Euclid, OH on July 14, 2018

The poster child when you hear the phrase superior German engineering this car has managed to be the perfect storm of performance, style, value all rolled up in a sleek sophisticated package..Ive ... Read full review

(5.0)

Very fun to drive

by Audi Lover! from Minneapolis, MN on February 17, 2018

This car is very smooth and extremely fun to drive. It has a very appealing design and looks great with the roof down! Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2010 Audi S5 currently has 0 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2010 Audi S5 has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Audi

Program Benefits

Comprehensive 300+ point dealer inspection, 24/7 roadside assistance including towing and trip interruption reimbursement, 1 Year/Unlimited Miles Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty coverage, transferability of the Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty to a subsequent private owner, and CARFAX® Vehicle History Report.

  • Limited Warranty

    1 Year / Unlimited Miles

    1 Year/ Unlimited Miles Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty features 1 Year / Unlimited Miles of warranty coverage after the expiration of the new vehicle limited warranty or from the date of sale if the new vehicle limited warranty has expired and coverage honored at over 300 Audi dealerships service centers throughout the U.S., total confidence is yours as you take the road less traveled.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 300+ point inspection.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The S5 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker