It has been a busy six months for Audi, introducing Q2 and S4, and then the A5 and S5 sibs, followed by RS 3, TT RS and Q5. We recently drove the A5 Sportback TFSI 2.0 which impressed, and subsequently have been piloting the sportier S5 coupe, another stunning design from Audi.
A decade ago the A5 Coupe dotted down and this is a pleasing update of the beautifully proportioned two-door hardtop. The new variant features a wider single-frame grille, and a wavy character line that highlights the bulbous wheel arches. Inside is equally a designer zone, the obvious drawcard being the quilted leather seats, which are powered, heated and have a massaging function too. There’s also the Virtual Cockpit which is being fitted to pretty much all new upmarket Audis nowadays. We prefer the Sport view which features a central tacho, with gear position and digital speedo within. If you’re navigating somewhere the Classic view is preferable as the entire instrument panel fills with the colour map. In this situation, having the head-up display is handy for a quick gauge on speed.
As to how it goes, there was nothing too much awry with the previous iteration, but a new turbocharged mill is 14kW stronger and the S5 has shed over 100kg, despite being bigger all round. The interior is 17mm longer, offering increased occupant and luggage space, the latter now out to 465L which Audi reckons is best in class. That’s a fair amount more than the E-Class coupe we drove recently (425L), and that car (the E 400 at any rate) is also significantly heavier and not as quick, though to be fair is also a bit larger. Still, you could get a couple of moderately sized adults in the rear of the S5, not that egress is simple. You sit higher than you might think in the driver’s pew, and you’re securely wedged in.
With less weight the S5 is a fair amount quicker both by the seat of the pants, and also by GPS measurement. It’s rated to hit one hundred in 4.7sec, and comfortably managed that, with a best of 4.6sec. The rapid-fire eight-speed automatic transmission helps, as does launch control when the ESP Sport mode is selected. The kicker is that Audi claims the new S5 Coupe is five per cent easier on gas, with overall fuel use a claimed 7.3L per 100km. We saw low eights at times, and rarely managed figures higher than 11. Where the old model felt quick this is palpably faster, its turbocharged 3.0L V6 kicking out 260kW and 500Nm. It’s not scalding, like RS models, some of which now sprint to 100km/h in under four seconds.
The S5 is no one-trick pony; this has many arrows in its quiver. With the latest iteration of quattro 4WD spitting out more torque to the rear wheels, and with a variable torque split, along with torque vectoring by brake, it’s a hard thing to unsettle, even if there’s a bit more weight over the front axle than desirable (58/42). On dry roads, most will never come close to experiencing its grip limits, nor see ESP intervention. A touch of the stability control button activates a Sport setting, reducing the threshold for ESP triggering and intervention is even less likely. That’s perhaps because torque vectoring is beavering away in the background to keep things pointing in the right direction.
The upshot is a coupe that simply devours corners, especially with the dampers set to Dynamic which keeps body roll composed. Steering heft can be altered too, in the Drive Select Individual setting.
Two things surprise here; even with the dampers ramped up, this rides with subtlety and despite the generous sportswear tyre roar is well contained. It’s a class GT act this, crossing country in easy, loping, refined fashion. We’d hoped for a bit more steering liveliness but this Audi isn’t alone in that regard. Compensating some are brakes that bite good and hard. It jets along at an easy pace the S5 so it’s pleasing to have all the active safety bits on hand, including active cruise control with stop and go functionality, lane keeping, RCTA, autonomous braking, you name it. Fancy bits include matrix LED headlights, surround camera, MMI functionality and a premium sound system.
Finally, if you decide that maybe the 2+2 Coupe is not quite practical enough, there’s the less sexy but more voluminous S5 Sportback five-door option that’s mechanically identical, and priced exactly the same as the Coupe at $122,900.
|Engine||2995cc, V6, T/DI, 260kW/500Nm||Drivetrain||8A, AWD|
|Fuel Use||7.5L/100km||C02 Output||173g/km|