Audi S5 Coupe first drive

Audi S5 CoupeAudi’s new and replacement model introduction programme continues with the recent arrival of the A5/S5 Coupe.

The A5/S5 Sportback arrives with customers during March followed by the A5/S5 Convertible and there are more models to follow. At this week’s opening of the Geneva Motor Show Audi had all the variants on display plus the long awaited RS5 Coupe with its 2.9-litre, V6, 450hp TFSI petrol engine and their DTM German Touring Car RS5 Coupe.

For now we have the longer, lighter, more powerful, and more fuel efficient A5 two door Coupe priced from £30,700 through SE, Sport and S line spec levels with a wide range of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engine plus a 3.0-litre TDI, some with front wheel drive and of course others with quattro all wheel drive with prices topping out at £41,375. Until the RS versions arrive the range currently tops out with the S5 Coupe 3.0-litre, V6, 354hp petrol TFSI quattro priced at £47,000.

The five door A5 Sportback arrived in January with the same spec levels and most of the same engine options as the Coupe and prices start at £33,050 and rise to £47,000 for the S5 Sportback variant, the same price as the top S5 Coupe.

The A5 Cabriolet two door arrives in April with similar engine transmission choices and SE, Sport, S line and S5 spec levels priced from £35,235 up to £51,835.

The RS5 variants due later this year have an estimated price of around £60k. Gone is the 4.2-litre, V8, 444bhp engine and in comes a 3.0-litre V6 480/500bhp new engine based on the new engine in the S5 but with electronic boosted turbocharging and an RS5 Cabriolet is also rumoured.

Robin Davies, Audi UK’s Product Affairs Manager said they do not give sales forecasts but last year the A5 Coupe sold 3,200 units, the Sportback 5,200 units and the Cabriolet around 1,200 vehicles. The most popular engine for mainstream versions was the 2.0-litre TDI 190bhp unit and S line was the most popular spec level. The S5 variants accounted for between 5 and 7% of sales in the A5/S5 Coupe, Sportback and Cabriolet ranges.

My new A5 test drive experience was scheduled to be with the best selling 2.0-litre TDI 190 Coupe but unfortunately that was damaged with a rear end shunt so Audi UK very kindly substituted it with the most welcome S5 Coupe with its new 3.0 TFSI V6 354hp petrol engine which is the only power unit available for the S5 models. This has quattro all wheel drive and an eight-speed tiptronic auto gearbox as standard and is priced at £47,000. But fitted with a comprehensive array of extra cost options the final on-the-road price was an eye-watering £57,895.

The A5/S5 Coupes were first produced in 2007 now we are now onto the second generation which offer a shade more space with a slightly longer wheelbase but they are still best described as 2+2 seaters. It does however have a large 465-litre boot claimed by Audi to be the largest in its small sector where the BMW 4 Series Coupe and the Mercedes C-Class Coupe are its main contenders. Not only has the length increased with a longer wheelbase it is marginally wider inside for improved passenger space and it is a shade lower for improved aerodynamics and it’s lighter to support more performance, better fuel economy, lower CO2 emissions and to help with its agility in the handling department. The well appointed S5 Coupe is still more of a ‘cruiser’ than a muscle-car ‘bruiser’.

At the heart of the latest S5 is a new 3.0-litre, V6, TFSI direct injection petrol engine which replaces the old 3.0-litre, supercharged 333hp V6 unit with the new engine being the basis for the forthcoming RS road versions and DTM touring car machine. In this road going form it provides 354hp from 5,400rpm but also a massive 500Nm of torque is developed from only 1,370rpm. This power is 6.5% more than the old engine with 13.5% more torque. A single twin-scroll turbocharger sits inside the V of the engine layout with each scroll routing blown air/petrol via short inlet ducts to each bank of cylinders. This provides instantaneous engine response. The zero to 62mph acceleration time is 4.7-seconds and the top speed is restricted to 155mph.

This new engine in the S5 Coupe will officially return 38.2mpg in the Combined Cycle and during my week long driving experience the overall figure was 28.7mpg and that was not as a result of ‘hard’ driving due to the appalling winter weather of ice, snow, fog and rain. Thankfully the standard quattro all wheel drive system provided all the grip the Coupe needed in my hands. It was also fitted with an optional £1,200 sports rear differential which splits the driving torque between the rear wheels as required but I never got to the stage where it was of benefit due to road conditions and the persistent heavy traffic which blights our roads today. The CO2 emissions are 170g/km so currently VED road tax costs £300 for the First Year rate reducing to £210 thereafter. Company car executives will pay 31% Benefit-in-Kind tax. These tax costs all increase of course for a new S5 Coupe bought after 1 April with VED going up to £500 First Year rate and then to £140 Second Year onwards BUT plus the additional £310 rate every year for five years to be applied to new cars costing more than £40k. BIK goes up to 33%.

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The S5 Coupe uses a new version of Audi’s eight-speed tiptronic auto box, not the seven-speed dual-clutch unit fitted to other engine options for the A5. It now has a shift-by-wire function which comes with a fuel saving Coasting Mode. When the foot comes off the accelerator this mode is engaged and the engine idles with the drive-line disconnected. Touch the throttle and the system reconnects instantly. A new torque converter is used to maximise on the extra torque available. The gearbox also adapts its performance to match the driver’s driving style changing the appropriated gear-shift points. There are two gearbox operating modes, D for drive and S for Sport. D mode can be further tuned by selecting Efficiency mode in the Audi Drive Select function and most of my driving was done in its Comfort mode due to weather related speed limitations.

With the sports suspension lowered by 23mm over the A5 Coupe versions and 19-inch alloy wheels fitted as standard, ride was on the firm side and the 8.5J 255/35 low profile tyres tended to follow the ruts of our poor road surfaces hence my selection of Comfort mode for most of my test drive time. Styling wise the S5 can be recognised from the outside by its specific-design larger bumpers and sports side sills and the front bumper has larger air inlets. S specification dual chrome oval tailpipes exit either side of the rear diffuser. There are S5 badges on the honeycomb grille, black brake callipers, front wings and at the rear.

Inside it is another Audi design high quality masterpiece with S instrument dials, multi-function flat bottomed leather bound steering wheel, a curved fascia similar to that used for the A4 range with an 8.3-inch high resolution colour screen mounted centrally and a little above the top of the dashboard. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit with its 12.3-inch full digital instrument cluster for flexible display options right in front of the driver in the instrument binnacle. This includes the duplicate sat-nav display if required as well and is a £900 option and a similar cost gets you the useful head-up display. On-line communication technology and an array of safety functions, driving aids and alert functions are also fitted. Audi’s MMI navigation Plus system is standard fit as is leather upholstery, electronically adjustable front sports seats with massaging function and the rear seat backs fold down to increase the load capacity. Although the wheelbase is a shade longer for this generation A5/S5 Coupe rear seat legroom is still limited for adult passengers and access in and out of the Coupe for rear passengers is not that easy.

But forget rear seat passengers the S5 Coupe is a high speed sports cruising machine designed for the driver’s enjoyment. It is not the most hard-core coupe, even with its new 3.0-litre V6 turbo engine. It has undoubted pace, is well balanced and with its high specification and eye-catching exterior design it’s a ‘cruiser’ at heart. Given the amount of time we spend in our cars these days trundling along at 50mph due to traffic congestion, road works or speed restrictions, performance is almost secondary. Driving refinement in a nice environment are more realistic and important features. In these areas the S5 scores highly. Refinement sums up the Audi S5 Coupe’s looks and performance.

MILESTONES: Audi S5 Coupe 3.0 TFSI, quattro, tiptronic auto. Price: £47,000 (£57,895 as tested with options). Engine/transmission: New 3.0-litre, V6 turbocharged TFSI direct injection petrol, 354hp, 500Nm of torque from only 1,370rpm, 8-speed dual mode tiptronic automatic and quattro all wheel drive. Performance: 155mph restricted top speed, 0-62mph 4.7-seconds, Combined Cycle 38.2mpg (28.7mpg on test), CO2 170g/km, VED road tax currently £300 First Year rate and £210 thereafter, BIK company car tax 31%. Insurance group: 41E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,692mm, W 1,846mm, H 1,368mm, boot 465-litres, 2-doors/ 2+2 seating. For: Attractive, high quality, high specification 2+2 cruiser, massive high torque engine response, impressive acceleration and quattro grip. Against: Not a ‘hard-core’ sports car, nice to drive but lacks the involvement and pure cut-and-thrust agility for when the mood takes you, future higher VED tax costs for cars bought after 1 April. Miles Better News Agency

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