Audi S5 Coupe
Audi's S5 Coupe is another very desirable sporting Audi. Jonathan Crouch reports
Ten Second Review
Yes, there's a potent engine plumbed beneath the Audi S5 Coupe's bonnet, but the subtly aggressive bodywork only gives clues to those in the know. It's probably the closest thing Audi currently makes to the classic Quattro coupe that so defined the brand back in the 1980s, though today, the turbo engine has six cylinders rather than five. Oh, and 354PS....
Audi's growing reputation as a maker of truly sporting cars continues on apace. For proof, we could have chosen an R8 supercar, an S4 super saloon or a TT RS roadster. But instead, we've got this car, the very fast, very focused and, in its own way, really rather frugal S5 Coupe. It's a model we could have tried as a two-door Cabriolet or a more practical five-door Sportback but instead, we've opted to pitch this car at you in desirable Coupe form. It's a bodystyle that not only looks great but also works well with the addictive supercharged roar from its 3.0-litre 354PS V6. It is, in other words, a potentially addictive package.
At the wheel of a model like this, you can see why Audi has in recent times achieved so much, so quickly. It's not perfect (the steering for example, could be sharper) but overall, let us try and define for you just why this car works as well as it does - starting with the engine. This time round, a turbocharged engine replaces the previous supercharged unit - It's much the same 3.0-litre V6 TFSI powerplant used in the Audi S4, here developing 354PS, enough to get you in 62mph in under 5s on the way to an artificially limited top speed of 155mph. Quattro four wheel drive is standard of course, a system that today can more quickly divert its power rearwards, providing ore of the feeling of driver involvement that you'd get from a rival BMW 440i. You can also pay extra for the Quattro Sport rear differential which sharpens cornering by speeding up the outside rear wheel relative to the inside one to help point the car into a bend. Further handling finesse depends on your willingness to pay extra for the optional adaptive dampers that work through the settings of the standard 'Drive Select' system which, via softer 'Comfort' or sharper 'Sport' buttons, offers changes to the responses of the steering, the dampers and the engine. Or you can set the system to your own 'Individual' settings.
Design and Build
Audi has been careful to keep its sporting models both smart and subtle. So S5 buyers get just enough to differentiate their cars from humbler A5 models. In addition to the customary quad oval tailpipes and aluminium-effect door mirror housings, S5 logos adorn the grille, front wings and rear. Partly polished 19-inch alloy wheels conceal S sport suspension and specially tuned brakes, while a matt aluminium finish extends to the rear diffuser, inlays surrounding the air inlets and radiator grille. The vibrant Misano red and Navarra blue paintwork are also exclusively available for this model. Inside, Nappa leather extends to the front S super sports seats, combining lumbar support, pneumatic adjustment and a massage function. MMI navigation plus and a three-year subscription to the Audi connect suite round out the interior upgrades. Like all the latest Audis, this one gets the option of brand's 'Virtual cockpit' instrument binnacle, a 12.3-inch TFT display that replaces the conventional dials. Out back, the boot's bigger than before, offering a volume of 465-litres, 10-litres more than with the previous model and more than you get in BMW and Mercedes rivals. The rear seat has a 40:20:40 split and can be easily folded forward using levers in the luggage compartment. Audi also offers an optional gesture control system for opening the luggage compartment lid via a foot motion.
Market and Model
You'll need a budget of around £47,000 for this S5 in Coupe form. That's similar sort of money to that you'd have to find for rivals like the Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC and BMW's 440i M Sport. On S5 models, a sport differential can complement the quattro drivetrain for more targeted torque distribution to the rear wheels, improving stability and agility in fast corners. Naturally, the most forward-thinking technological advancements now supplement the already extensive standard equipment list, from the Audi virtual cockpit and Matrix LED lights to a head-up display and Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system. In terms of driver assistance, adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go incorporates a traffic jam assist function capable of taking over braking, acceleration and steering inputs at speeds of up to 37mph to take the strain off stop-start traffic. Audi is particularly proud of its media connectivity, specifically the 'connect' system that can link to the Internet via the ultrafast LTE network.With the standard Audi smartphone interface, Apple Car Play and Android Auto bring the familiar smartphone environment to the car, if desired. The optional Audiphonebox with wireless charging in the centre armrest uses near-field coupling to link smartphones wirelessly to the vehicle's antenna.
Cost of Ownership
You might think that the turbocharged V6 in this Audi is no eco-warrior - expect 38.2mpg on the combined cycle and 170g/km of CO2. That's until you start to compare these readings with those of this model's supercharged predecessor (30mpg on the combined cycle fuel and CO2 emissions of between 219 and 224g/km of CO2). Of course, the driver will have to do his or her part. Helping here is the clever 'Predictive efficiency assist' system that could potentially improve your fuel economy by as much as 10%. It works with the Navigation package and analyses any given route, once set, to decide how the journey could be undertaken more efficiently, taking into account things like the speed limits, traffic signs, bends and roundabouts you'll be encountering along the way. The set-up then offers driving tips that'll help you achieve that: perhaps, for example, a junction is out of your sight around the next bend and you could take your foot off the accelerator a little earlier. Get onto the motorway and with the optional Adaptive Cruise Control system activated, 'Predictive efficiency assist' will automatically make all the frugal driving adjustments for you. If it knows you're going to be travelling for a few junctions, it'll even disengage the engine at cruising speeds for greater efficiency, then re-engage it immediately and almost seamlessly when you either accelerate or brake.
You could drive an S5 for the whole of its motoring life without suspecting the beast that lies beneath its bodywork. Some owners will - and that's a pity for this Audi's split personality can also promise a remarkably agile driver's car. True, it isn't quite as track-focused as a BMW M3, but then, it isn't as expensive to buy or to run either. As an ownership proposition, it's quite simply a more complete choice that sounds great, looks brilliant and is quite beautifully engineered. Audi's S badge always delivered a special experience. Now it's a properly sporting one too.