Neener, neener, I banned your title!
- Oct 8, 2005
- Wherever the Coast Guard sends me.
- '07 Volvo XC70 Polestar, '01 Miata SE
Again, great review paired with brilliant pictures...
The site has more pics of the car in red and white. Very stunning.
Verona, Italy ? ?FIGHT!? It?s that one word yelled at the top of the lungs that can bring every kid in the schoolyard running. On the playground of the auto industry, there?s no better grudge match than two-door performance coupes. Whether it?s the brawl of American muscle cars, the Judo sparring of high-tech Japanese sportscars or the rapier dueling of European performance coupes like Audi?s new S5, it?s enough to make any red-blooded car buff drop his dodge ball and crowd around.
For years, Audi has chosen to stay out of the ring, with nothing to pitch against BMW?s own 3 Series coupe. But now, Ingolstadt is back to square off against its Munich rival, not to mention the rest of the field. The company has fast-tracked the new S5 coupe to market, arriving months before the much-vaunted next-gen M3.
An S-badged coupe is kind of a big deal. It?s been twelve years since the European-only S2 coupe left market, and a full 23 years since the original ur-Quattro marked the most recent offering in this segment for the U.S.A. Since then, BMW has enjoyed a mainly un-rivaled dominance. Whereas the first Quattro taught the original M3 that blistered fenders were cool, today?s S5 finds itself more squarely facing the turbocharged BMW 335i, leaving the M3 fight to the rumored, much-anticipated and highly likely RS 5.
Audi?s Nuvolari concept of 2003 served as the styling inspiration for the A5 and S5 coupes. However, with the A5/S5, design chief Walter de'Silva broke with Audi?s tradition of bringing cars to market true to concept form, as it has done with the original TT and the R8. Instead, the car changed significantly, evolving it into ?the most beautiful car I have ever designed,? according to the Italian designer. It is certainly sexy, with its swooping fender lines and dimensions that would make Cruella de Ville cackle.
To the voluptuous two-door design of the standard A5 coupe, Audi has added its S-car touches, and a few additional touches that are becoming key elements of Audi design in their own right. The subtleyet muscular body kit, side wings below the doors, grey and chrome grille, and quad-tipped exhaust denote the car as an S model, while a spoon-shaped line of LEDs at the lower end of the headlight give it the same menacing look as the more exotic R8.
Another reflection of the R8 is the optional 19-inch ?star styling? wheel design. The standard 18-inch ?S styling? wheel design ? while not quite as dynamiclooking,- offers a little smoother ride on rough pavement and is still quite handsome.
Open the S5?s long doors and you?re treated with an interior as striking as the car?s outside. We experienced one fitted with Audi?s softer Silk Nappa Leather in a hue of ?Magma Red? and complemented with their interesting new ?Stainless Mesh? interior trim ? a very dynamic spec that brings life to the conservative Ice Silver Metallic exterior tone.
A new intelligent key marks the next evolution of the fob design for Audi. Now lacking the switchblade-element, the now bladeless fob can either be slipped cartridge-style into the dash at the right of the steering wheel, or left in the driver?s pocket while he sets the motor a-rumble via a handsome satin aluminum start button located on the center console.
Slide into the scintillating scarlet seats with their embossed ?S5? logo and you?re greeted by a cockpit that has amazing tactile touch and feel ? even for Audi. Ingolstadt?s familiar Multi-Media Interface (MMI) proliferates down the line ? it is standard equipment in the S5. This is particularly good news for those with iPods and the like as the Audi Music Interface system will also be available.
Of the intelligent drive systems on the market today, MMI generally stacks up well. However, the center console is starting to look a bit busy, and the stylized buttons of the S5?s system, quite different from the more uniform A6, A8 and Q7 MMI setups, had us first fumbling for buttons when attention to the road trumped attention to the center console.
Also like other higher-end Audis, the S5 and A5 will get the added benefit of an optional audio system courtesy of the Danish high-fi specialists Bang & Olufsen.
Whereas the B&O system in the A8 and S8 is both more extensive and expensive, the S5?s setup is more akin to the simpler system offered on the R8. The speaker design is virtually identical to that in Audi?s supercar, and the sound, while not as clear or as controllable as the A8/S8, ups the ante in both clarity and bass from Bose systems previously experienced in the S4.
The S5 foregoes the familiar Recaro sport seats found in the previous S4, in favor of a design more consistent with the company?s own design language ?similar to those found in the R8, TT and S6. The optional Recaro shell seats offered in the European RS 4 and R8 will not be available from the factory for S5 buyers. The lack of any obvious Recaro-branded seat shouldn?t leave enthusiasts bothered though. With generous bolsters, integrated head restraints and 4-way adjustments for lumbar, height, length and back angle, the new Audi seats will likely not leave you wanting.
Though the front seats are a delight, the back seats may be found as a little lacking. While contoured shape, the center armrest design and cupholders moulded into the seat base at each corner help make for an attractive environment, the lack of room for both legs and head should be noted. Yes, you can carry four passengers, but you?ll likely want to put either the shorter or the more flexible members of your party in the rear.
Unlike rear seat room, the trunk is generous in its capacity of over 16 cubic feet. The folding rear seats add to that space should you need it, making the car fairly utilitarian.
A side-effect of the low-slung roofline is the lack of availability of a traditional sunroof. Audi has stayed away from a full sliding sunroof fitment in the A5 and S5. In Europe, owners will be able to choose between no sunroof at all or the expansive but tilt-only Open Sky sunroof with manual sliding sunshade. For Americans, Open Sky will be the only option for now.
Fixed also are the A5?s rear windows. There?s no Alfa GTV-style lowering rear windows, nor a B-pillarless design like the ?60s Dodge Chargers. Too bad, as this may have added to the extravagance of the car, though looking at the size of the rear windows and the rear side panels, Audi would have had to have been miracle workers to find the space to stow the glass. Still, you have to figure they?ll be finding stowage space for that glass on the upcoming A5 Cabriolet.
There?s been much ado about Audi?s new Modular Longitudinal Chassis (a.k.a. MLB). A brainstorm of outgoing Audi boss Dr. Martin Winterkorn, the architecture is tremendously scalable and will provide component sets for cars of the traditional B, C and D platforms of the past. In as much, improvements you see on the A5 and S5 are a hint at what else you?ll see on future Audis from the A4 on up the range, with the exception of the Q7 and R8.
Many changes have been made to improve the dynamics of the MLB. Employing a trick learned with the current-generation A8, Audi has moved the front wheels forward in relation to the engine and transmission by locating the differential ahead of the clutch. This allows for improved appearance with less front overhang. More importantly, it transfers a greater amount of weight to the rear axle. The S5 is left with a much sought-after 50:50 weight bias. No kidding.
Also aiding the car?s handling is a lower center of gravity thanks to the relocation of the car?s steering gear ? lower and ahead of the front axle. In addition to bringing some weight closer to the ground, this configuration also helps improve a traditional Achilles Heel for Audi in regards to handling dynamics ? the S5 exhibits less elasticity and delivers a more direct feel.
Finally, the car?s front suspension has also been improved with the implementation of MLB. The A5 marks the first fitment of a five-arm front suspension design.
Under the hood, the S5 gets further improvements, most importantly the addition of FSI. No, it?s not the high-revving monster found under the aluminum hood of the RS 4. However, the benefits of FSI seen in 4.2-liter applications of the A6, Q7 and A8 do apply. Horsepower is conservatively raised to 354 bhp at a 7000 rpm peak, while it?s turbocharged BMW rival has only 302 bhp on tap. The 4.2 with FSI also benefits from a more liberally improved 325 lb ft of torque from only 3500 rpm. That?s good for an Audi-claimed 0-60 mph just 5.1 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.
When it hits North American shores next fall, the FSI 4.2 will be mated solely with a manual six-speed gearbox and priced in the $50K range. It?ll be followed in early 2008 with a six-speed Tiptronic. Likely, there will be a seven-speed DSG, but not until 2010 at best.
Depress the polished silver start button to the left of the shifter and the S5 comes to life with the familiar roar of Audi?s 4.2-liter V8, set to a more aggressive exhaust note than most Audi 4.2 models, save the RS 4.
The shift action was a bit notchier than previous 6-speeds we?ve driven from Audi, perhaps due to our car?s pre-production status. Clutch uptake was trickier than the S4, hopefully attributable also to the hand-built status of the cars. Even still, it was something we were already acclimating to during our short drive time logged in hours, rather than in the days, weeks or years of normal ownership. we?re hoping this will be improved once the S5 is in series production.
Out on the road the A5 feels bigger and heavier than its aluminum-based Audi siblings. The car?s body is all steel, so its size and mass take their toll in the twisties, particularly the tight curves on the twisting mountainside roads outside of Verona.
On the highway though, the car is in its element. In true grand-tourer style, the S5 is the best Audi coupe to utilize while ticking down the kilometers on the Italian Autostrada or ticking away miles on an American Turnpike. The generous torque on tap easily brings the S5 into triple-digit numbers? and we?re not just talking pansy-ass metric system triple digits either. Even at those triple-digit numbers, the GT nature of the S5 shines, with little noise from the rubber rolling beneath or the air molecules blasting by, bouncing along the car?s curvaceous profile. Even the S5?s exhaust, more aggressive than we?ve experienced on previous S-cars, is relatively muted at cruising speeds.
Perhaps the only shortcoming of the S5 during high-speed cruising would be its relatively short sixth gear - great for immediate torque on the Autobahn, though lower revs at cruising lower-speed American highways would certainly help fuel economy.
Getting into the curves, the S5 feels quite stable. There?s much less lean than other non S-line A5 variants, but you don?t give up comfort thanks to dampening that seems just about perfect.
While previous S-cars have felt rather numb at the wheel, the S5 has much better steering feel. The finely stitched leather wheel feels more naturally weighted and communicative. Turn-in is improved, and there?s much more of a direct feel between driver input and reaction on the part of the car.
Set to be the third coupe birthed from Audi?s ?year of passion?, the S5 has some tough shoes to fill. Not surprisingly, the S5 doesn?t handle like the scythe-like R8, with its aluminum-body and mid-engine layout. Nor does it have the light and tossable nature of the aluminum-bodied and transverse-engined TT, itself so light on its feet with easily inducible oversteer.
The S5 can be convinced to oversteer, but it requires more traditional Audi maneuvers. Yes, it?ll do so, but not simply by lifting throttle mid-turn as in the TT. The new MLB architecture makes things easier, but you?ll still need a sharp turn, a low gear (probably first) and a side-stepped clutch at generous throttle to get the 40:60 differential to kick out the tail in a rather muted fashion. The traditional pendulum effect of tossing the car first one way, then the next in order to throw the weight about also applies as you might expect.
Winding the car out between sharp left and right-handers, the S5 gets downright mean. The S5?s V8 pulls strong, on up to its 7,000 rpm redline. At wide-open-throttle, the most striking note of the car?s exhaust is not the bass grumble, but a more pronounced fwap-fwap-fwap as the eight cylinders fire in orchestral harmony.
Some of the more ardent kids on the playground may be a bit let down, expecting a scuffle with the M3. For those instigators, we say wait for the RS 5. If the RS 5 is to the S5, what the RS 4 is to the current A4, there will be a major brawl indeed, with no teachers around to break things up. For now, the S5 will offer a strong competitor to the BMW 335i ? a back-to-back comparison we can?t wait to make.
The site has more pics of the car in red and white. Very stunning.