When one thinks of European luxury sports coupes most will immediately start thinking in German. After all no one can mistake a Fiat or a Mini Cooper for something close to anything with a hint of luxury. It is the Germans after all who dominate this arena with their BMW’s and Mercedes; at least those are the names that come to mind.
There is another German luxury car maker however. And if you’ve never driven one, you might not even consider it. But you should.
We had never driven an Audi. Sure, we had driven all manner of autos; all the American brands, Korean and Japanese and many of the European including Alfa-Romeo, Ferrari, Lamborghini and the aforementioned BMW and Mercedes. But an Audi? Nope , sorry never even sat in one. So, we didn’t know what to expect recently when we were delivered an Audi S5 to drive for a week.
The Audi S5 is the sport variant of the A5, a pretty successful model on its own. With the S5 you get a more aggressive design, especially in the front. The first impression from this more aggressive design was very positive. Although a black interior and exterior isn’t always a favorite choice for tooling around Central Florida, especially in the middle of August, the look of this S5 was a very pleasing one. That positive impression continued inside. There is enough headroom in the front to feel comfortable and the Leather/Alcantara seats provide good support and as we would later learn, enough side support to hold you firmly in place during aggressive driving maneuvers. The dash layout is a little reminiscent of a Mercedes, but with one major difference. While a Mercedes dash contains a nearly confusing array of knobs, buttons and selectors, Audi has what seems to be just the right amount of whatever’s needed by the driver.
Audi uses something they call the Multi Media Interface (MMI) which includes navigation and a rearview camera. This is akin to the BMW ConnectedDrive system; although it can be a bit confusing, five minutes of time to learn how it operates is all it takes. New for this year is the standard Audi Drive Select that allows the driver to select driving modes including efficiency, automatic, and dynamic. You can fine tune this all to your liking and save it, but we didn’t have cause, or time, to use all so kept it in the dynamic mode. The Bang & Olufsen (whoever they are) sound system delivers great performance and connecting our phone via Bluetooth was easy to figure out and took very little time. Our model also had the Competition package that features a three-spoke flat-bottom multifunction sport steering wheel; piano black inlays; the leather/Alcantara front sport seats with S line embossing; black cloth headliner; Aluminum door sills with S line badging.
While the interior was impressive, on the road is where we got the most enjoyment from our S5.
For the 2014 model year the standard engine is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine rated at 333 hp and 325 pound-feet of torque. Yes, supercharged. And that seems to make all the difference in the world. For the uninformed a supercharger is basically a unit that uses intermeshing, high-speed rotors that pump air directly into the engine's intake system to generate more power. It’s like a turbocharger, only much, much better. All we know is that having a supercharger under the hood delivers a kick that puts a normal turbocharger to shame; there no lag like a turbo, only the pleasant sensation of a rocket ship taking off.
Although there is a six-speed manual transmission available, our S5 had the seven-speed S tronic transmission. Rare is the instance when an engine and automatic transmission can perform as one flawlessly acting in concert with one another. All seem to have some little quirk, a little hesitation maybe, or a low downshift. Not so with the S5. During our week under varying conditions, the engine and transmission combination performed impeccably.
Then there was the sound.
An aggressive push of the pedal delivers a low growl that is music to a motoring enthusiast’s ear. It’s as is Beethoven is riding in the trunk conducting an orchestra. Between shifts, which are nearly seamless, there is a very pleasing backfire pop like a wink maybe, or Keith Moon finishing a drum solo. We made straight line speed runs of 120 miles per hour (Allegedly for you law enforcement types) over a 2 mile course with a 0-60 MPH time of just under 4.9 seconds.
All combined the power, the sport suspension and seating along the all-wheel drive (hence the ‘quattro’ designation) makes the S5 easily one of our favorite cars of the year. It navigates traffic as if it owns the road, handles aggressive cornering with a smile and a nod from Keith Moon, and makes you want to take the long way to work every day.
Audi is majority owned by Volkswagen and once this fact was known we understood why we liked this car so much. The VW CC we had recently was surprising as well. It’s also a very well made machine that gave us a good lasting impression.
There are other luxury sport coupes in the $59,000 price range; the BMW 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class or an Infiniti Q60 (which we drove recently and in our opinion doesn’t hold a candle to the S5); all can be had for about, or even less than the S5. Heck, for about the same money you can get your driving hands on a Corvette Stingray. However if you need a little more room than a Q60 or Stingray and you’ve visited the BMW and Mercedes dealers, the Audi S5 is definitely worth a look.
People might think only of the BMW and Mercedes when thinking of high quality German engineered cars, but there are other Germans who can easily park beside their more famous compatriots, and they are called Audi.
The 2014 Audi S5 Coupe Quattro S tronic
(One of our top 10 of 2014 so far)
MSRP(as tested): $59,545
The 2014 Audi A5 is offered in four-passenger coupe and convertible models. There is a base Premium trim level, you can add the Premium Plus and Prestige option packages, which determines the availability of other option groups.
Three-zone automatic climate control
Three-spoke multifunction flat-bottom sport steering wheel with shift paddles
Tilt and telescopic manually adjustable steering column
Power windows with one-touch up/down operation and pinch protection
Decorative interior inlays
Black cloth headliner
Panoramic tilting sunroof
Dual front sun visors with lighted vanity mirrors
Auto-dimming interior rear view mirror with digital compass
Aluminum door sill inlays
Safety | Security
Driver and front passenger dual-stage airbags, front thorax side airbags, knee airbags, and Sideguard® head curtain airbags
Front passenger occupant detection for airbags
Power central locking system with safety unlock feature if airbags deploy
Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD) and brake assist
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with traction control (ASR)
Anti-theft alarm system with immobilizer
Tire-pressure monitoring system
Safety belt reminder for driver and front passenger
Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) in rear seats
Electromechanical parking brake
Leather/Alcantara® seating surfaces
Twelve-way power front sport seats, including four-way power lumbar adjustment
Split folding 60/40 rear seatbacks
Heated front seats
Driver seat memory
Infotainment | Technology
Audi concert radio with ten speakers and single CD player with MP3 playback capability
SiriusXM® Satellite Radio with 90-day trial subscription3
Cruise control with coast, resume and accelerate features
Audi music interface with iPod® integration
BLUETOOTH® wireless technology preparation for mobile phone4
Garage door opener (HomeLink®)
Audi advanced key—keyless start, stop and entry5
Audi drive select
Rain/light sensor for automatic windshield wipers and headlights
Xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights
LED taillights and rear fog lights
Power-adjustable, auto-dimming, heated exterior side mirrors with memory
Front fog lights
Quad exhaust outlets
Aluminum trim around exterior windows
LED turn indicator lights integrated into the exterior side mirrors
Heated windshield washer nozzles
Audi S exterior appearance (Platinum Gray Singleframe® grille, Aluminum-optic front/rear blades and exterior side mirror housings, body-colored door sill blades and integrated rear spoiler)
Engine: 3.0 Liter supercharged V6, 333 hp @ 5500 rpm and 325 ft-lbs. torque @ 2900 rpm
MPG (EPA estimated): 18 city, 28 highway 21 mpg mixed
MPG (as tested in mixed conditions): 26
Transmission (As Tested, 6 Speed Manual Available): 7-Speed Automated Manual (All Wheel Drive)
Width 6 Ft. 1 In. (73 In.)
Height 4 Ft. 5.9 In. (53.9 In.)
Length 15 Ft. 2.7 In. (182.7 In.)
Wheel Base 9 Ft. 0.3 In. (108.3 In.)
Front Head Room 37.6 In.
Front Leg Room 41.3 In.
Front Shoulder Room 54.3 In.
Rear Head Room 36.0 In.
Rear Leg Room 31.7 In.
Rear Shoulder Room 52.8 In.
Epa Interior Volume 96.2 Cu.Ft.
Cargo Capacity, All Seats In Place 12.2 Cu.Ft.
Curb Weight 4045 Lbs.
Basic 4 Yr./ 50000 Mi.
Drivetrain 4 Yr./ 50000 Mi.
Free Maintenance 1 Yr./ 5000 Mi.