2009 S5 New Car Test Drive
The Audi A5 and the high-performance S5 are mid-size coupes, larger than the TT. A handsome, distinctive shape identifies the A5 and S5 models from virtually any angle, with flowing curves bringing musculature to sleek, aerodynamic forms and arresting light patterns. Viewed from behind there's a chance of mistaking an A5 or S5 for a British GT, but from any other angle it's unmistakably Audi.
These are grand touring cars designed to cover lots of ground at high speed while coddling a pair of occupants. They seat two-plus-two; the rear seats are for the occasional adult passengers or for bringing small kids along. The A5 involves the driver physically, audibly, and mentally though never to the point of making it a chore or less than inviting. The Audi S5 can be hustled down virtually any road at a good clip, but it is unfair to expect these coupes to behave like small sports cars.
Audi interiors have been racking up awards for a long time and the A5 (and S5) is in the same mold. It has the features expected, good ergonomics, a central interface system that won't drive you to cursing, and it's all assembled to a high standard using appropriate materials. Despite the standard all-wheel drive it also has more trunk space than some Lexus sedans, so you can enjoy a road trip of just about any length or destination.
An A5 delivers confidence and luxury in a package not likely to be seen at every intersection and very likely to come across as a good value; the S5 delivers more performance and luxury yet still has a certain value quotient to argue.
By price, concept, and execution one of the S5's nearest competitors is the Mercedes-Benz CLK550, with a bit more power but no choice of transmission, no all-wheel drive, and costing about $5,000 more. While the $40,700 A5 and $51,400 S5 may be judged on paper against the Infiniti G37, CLK350, or BMW 335i coupe, the amenities, cabin finish and room are such that the Audis may also be shopped against the Jaguar XK, BMW 650i, or Porsche 911. And while each is a fine car and may offer more speed or perhaps technological gadgetry, only the 911 matches the Audi with the availability of all-wheel drive, and for a $6,000 premium.
The A5 and S5 were launched as 2008 models and have been on the market for only a short time, so there are no significant changes for 2009.
The Audi A5 ($41,700) features a 265-hp V6 engine, six-speed manual gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive. The 2008 Audi S5 ($51,400) uses a 354-hp V8 engine. Both versions are available with a six-speed automatic transmission ($1,300).
The A5 comes with leather upholstery, including the steering wheel and shifter, and wood trim. Also standard are three-zone climate control, power front seats, 60/40 split-fold rear seat with ski bag/pass-through, tilt/telescoping steering column, glass roof with shade, four-way adjustable center console, monochrome driver info center, AM/FM/CD/satellite/SD-card 180-watt 10-speaker stereo, fog lights, 18-inch wheels, heated windshield washers, cruise control, power windows/locks/mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers.
A5 options include a Premium Package ($1,900), which includes a garage-door opener, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, power folding mirrors, heated front seats, and memory for the driver’s seat and mirrors. Another option is the S line Package ($2,900), with firmer suspension, 19-inch wheels, different trim in and out, sport seats, aluminum trim, and a multi-function, leather-wrapped steering wheel. To get the S line Package you must also have the Premium Package.
Optional on both A5 and S5 are metallic paint, adaptive headlamps, Advanced Key (stays in your pocket), Audi side assist, navigation, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The S5 includes everything on the A5 plus 19-inch wheels and 255/35YR19 tires, bigger brakes, rear spoiler, Silk Nappa leather sport seats with integral headrests and optional Alcantara inserts, two-position driver memory system, color screen driver info center, bi-xenon headlamps and LED daytime running lights, auto-dimming power-folding mirrors, headlight washers, heated front seats, and aluminum interior trim with carbon, wood, or stainless steel available. The S5 manual transmission model carries the mandated U.S. gas guzzler tax ($1,300).
Safety gear that comes standard on all A5 and S5 models consists of two-stage driver and adaptive passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, Backguard headrests, electronic stability control, ABS, EBD, all-wheel drive, and tire pressure monitors.