2013 Audi S5 Ride and Review
By Dan Poler


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Audi S5 Coupe

By Dan Poler
The Auto Channel
Rocky Mountain Bureau

...there’s no doubt that the S5 is a blast to drive, this is a driver’s car first and foremost.

The Audi “S” line represents high-performance variants of Audi’s vehicles – performance with a distinctly Audi flair. In the S5, our friends from Ingolstadt have brought us a two-door, four-passenger coupe. For 2013, Audi has made some modest updates to the car, including an updated front end and some minor refreshes to the cabin. Perhaps the most major change, however, is the omission of the 4.2 liter V8 in favor of the 3.0 TFSI 6-cylinder engine – more on that in a moment.

Our 2013 S5 came very generously equipped with Audi’s Prestige trim, which includes adaptive xenon headlights, side assist for lane changes, keyless entry with pushbutton start/stop, a Bang & Olufsen audio system, and an upgraded Audi MMI navigation system with satellite radio. The vehicle was also optioned with the Drive Assist package, providing for a tunable driving experience as well as adaptive cruise control, and the sport differential.

From the outside, Audi’s vehicles have always been pleasing to the eye. The S5 is no exception, with no curve, line, or seam out of place. Inside the cabin is the same. There is a certain mix of luxury and austerity to the cabin – well appointed, functional, sophisticated, everything just so, in its place.

Front passengers will enjoy S-exclusive power-adjustable sport seats with manually adjusting leg bolsters. The seats are firm and supportive, a comfortable place to spend hours behind the wheel. In our test vehicle, the seats were Nappa leather, although a leather / Alcantara option is also available.

Throughout the S5 there are touches of practicality that are surprising for a performance coupe – and that lend themselves well to daily-driver usability. The back seat is surprisingly comfortable for a performance coupe – while taller adults will not be comfortable for long trips, we found that a forward-facing car seat could be easily accommodated. The trunk is positively cavernous for a vehicle of this class, a nice touch.

Most of the vehicle’s functions, including navigation, audio, and manipulation of Drive Select settings for tuning vehicle performance are accomplished through Audi’s MMI – Multi Media Interface, a screen in the dash and a control knob and series of buttons between the front seats. MMI takes some getting used to. It’s not a bad system at all – in fact more intuitive than most car control systems we’ve encountered – but its operation requires a lot of button presses and wheel turns for basic operations, such as changing a radio station. This can necessitate glances down to make sure that you’re actually pressing the button you meant to press.

There’s no doubt that the S5 is a blast to drive. This is a driver’s car first and foremost; it can be as engaging (or not) as the driver desires and as the circumstances warrant. Long highway cruise? Set Drive Select to “Comfort” and turn on the Adaptive Cruise Control. In the canyons? Turn the Drive Select to “Dynamic” and turn to the paddle shifters while you enjoy the feeling of the sports differential pushing the outer rear wheel just a little faster through the corners. Suspension is excellent – firm, without being harsh. Perhaps the only quibble we found with driving the S5 was a fairly minor one – the Side Assist warning system for lane changes is quite sensitive, sometimes notifying the driver about vehicles two lanes away, which can be distracting.

Purists may decry the loss of the legendary 4.2 liter V8 in the S5, but it is not missed. The V6 produces a silky-smooth 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque without the slightest hint of turbo lag – a reduction of only 22 hp from the V8, with torque numbers the same. It also has the added benefit of sounding amazing, with a deep rumble and a strong snarl to the exhaust. So amazing, in fact, that we found ourselves wondering why Audi also included the great B&O stereo when one can just listen to the engine. When paired to the seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission, the V6 is capable of decent fuel economy, too – we found that economy was heavily dependent on driving style, but we were able to average 24 MPG overall – including quite a bit of, uh, spirited driving.

In addition to the host of performance features the S5 is equipped with all of the standard safety features for which Audi is known, including the Quattro all-wheel drive system, front and rear side airbags, side curtain airbags, and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger.

Not everyone will find the S5 to be the perfect car, but we found it to be a pleasure to drive – an engaging driver’s car built for long periods behind the wheel, whether cruising the highways or tearing it up on the track. For those in the market for a sport coupe, the S5 definitely warrants a close look.

Specifications

2013 Audi S5
Base Price: $52,300
Price as Tested: $66,895
Engine Type: 24 valve TFSI
Engine Size: 3.0 liter
Horsepower: 333
Torque (lb-ft): 325
Transmission: Seven-speed S tronic with sport and manual shift modes
Wheelbase / Length (in): 108.3 / 182.1
Curb Weight: 3,858
Pounds per HP: 11.59
Fuel Capacity (gal): 16.9
Fuel Requirement: Premium unleaded
Tires: Pirelli P Zero; 255/35YR19
Brakes, front/rear: Disc / Disc
Suspension, front/rear: Multi-link / Multi-link
Ground clearance (in): N/A
Drivetrain: Quattro permanent all-wheel drive with 40:60 torque split
EPA Fuel Economy - MPG
city / highway / observed: 18 / 28 / 24
Base Trim Price: $52,300

Options and Charges

Package – Prestige model: $6,650 (Audi adaptive light, Audi side assist, Audi advanced key,
Bang & Olufsen Sound System, Audi MMI Navigation Plus)

Package – Driver Assist: $3,250 (Audi adaptive cruise control, Audi drive select controls, Audi dynamic steering)

Option – Fine Nappa leather upholstery: $1,250

Option – Sports differential: $1,250

Option – 19” 5-segment-spoke wheels, summer tires: $800

Option – Carbon Atlas inlays: $500

Delivery: $895

Price as tested: $66,895


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