New Car Review:
Audi is renowned for building small A4, medium A6, and large A8 sedans.
Replace the letter A with an S and you get the sporty, more powerful
model. So, the S5 is the powerful version of the A5, and is a brand new
coupe in the Audi family.
Coupes are less
practical than sedans, but sexier. Walter de’Silva, head of Volkswagen
Group Design, claims that “The Audi A5 is the most beautiful car I have
ever designed.” You can take him at his word. The S5 attracted a
generous sampling of oohs and aahs from other drivers. In a rich Meteor
Gray Pearl Effect paint, with Magma Red interior, I got thumbs up from
guys in BMW M3s and Subaru WRXs.
The S5’s 4.2-liter V8
engine puts 354 horsepower to the ground through all four of the car’s
19-inch alloy wheels, good for 5.1 seconds from zero to 60 mph. It emits
a sonorous muted growl as it does it - more subtle than a Mustang or a
Corvette. Peak torque of 325 lb.-ft. comes at 3,500 rpm. I found myself
starting in second gear to avoid wheelspin.
Audi is celebrated for
its all-wheel-drive Quattro system, which provides traction with
variable torque distribution. The default setting is 40 percent torque
at the front and 60 percent in the rear, but the system can adjust in a
fraction of a second to reflect changes in driving conditions. With 354
horsepower, you really appreciate having twice as many ways to get it to
The S5’s V8 earns EPA
fuel economy ratings of 14 City, 21 Highway, with an average of 16 miles
per gallon. I personally averaged 14.4 mpg. The sticker includes a
$1,300 gas guzzler tax - a small price to pay for so much entertainment.
The EPA Green Vehicle
Guide gives the S4 a 6 for the Air Pollution score and 4 for the
Greenhouse Gases score. Considering the V8’s size and power, that’s
The S5 upgrade sharpens
the coupe’s already stunning shape. The tall grille gets vertical chrome
inlays over platinum gray. The slim LED strip of daytime running lights
is very cool and futuristic. The bumpers are tweaked to look more
ferocious, and aluminum-look external mirrors glimmer in the sun. I had
one person say they didn’t like the non-body-color mirrors, but they
were the exception. Four oval tailpipes in back convey a powerful
statement to the people you leave in the dust.
The S5 encourages you
to use some of its vast potential. You can stomp on the gas and shoot
ahead like the human cannonball. Special high-performance brakes with
black calipers pull you down quickly. The S5 boasts a 200-mph
speedometer, but I didn’t get far into the second third of it.
A six-speed manual
transmission guarantees a week of fun and more jealous questions than
usual at work. I was surprised to see an upshift light, which told me
when to change gears. It even said to skip gears sometimes when
If you’re used to the
airy quality of an Audi sedan, the S5 looks and feels small inside. The
EPA rates it as a subcompact. There is a set of two rear seats, but
legroom is tight - think 2 + 2 here. The slim, high windows and fat rear
pillar are very stylish but restrict visibility.
The cabin has no
shortage of comforts or attractions. I detected some BMW styling cues,
but everyone is doing that now. The detailing is a little more exuberant
than past Audis. First-rate materials and construction help the design
sing. The S5 gets unique sport seats, sport wheel, gray-faced gauges and
custom sill plates. My tester had optional carbon atlas decorative
inlays in place of brushed aluminum ($500).
My tester also had the
optional Navigation Plus system with a music interface. I used it a few
times and it worked well. The system employs a turn-and-push dial to
enter information rather than a touch screen. I noticed that the route
guidance voice said the more conversational “take a left” instead of the
“make a left turn” I have heard in other systems.
Prices start at
$50,500, but with options, including a premium sound system and that gas
guzzler tax, my test vehicle came to $58,490.
The S5 is fast and
comfortable, but is also was one of the test cars I would stand and look
at after parking it. The side detailing, especially along the rear
flanks, is simply gorgeous. Of all the cars I drove recently, this one
really stands out.
By Steve Schaefer ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Audi Home Page
Byline: New Car Review provided by Tony
Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: This one really stands out
Topic: The 2008 Audi S5
Word Count: 825
Photo Caption: The 2008 Audi S5
Photo Credits: Audi S5 Internet Media
Series #: 2008 - 21
the Microsoft Word version here:
2008 Audi S5
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2008 Audi S5