2013 Audi S5 Road Test & Review

2013 Audi S5 Road Test & Review

It’s an undisputed fact of life a pretty woman is welcomed just about anywhere she goes.

The same can be said for a good-looking car.

You want to find your ride out front at the valet stand? Best show up in something capable of swiveling crania, otherwise it’s destined for conscription to the deepest recesses of the back parking lot.

And yeah, when its time to for you to go, you WILL find yourself facing a 20-minute wait while the valets draw straws to see which of them will grudgingly pack a lunch to sustain them on the hike they’ll have to make to retrieve it. However, if your ride is an Audi S5, valets won’t have to go retrieve it, you’ll find it steps away from where you got out of it — parked right out front — classing up the joint.

(And yeah, in case you hadn’t figured it out, that’s exactly why it takes so long to retrieve your 1998 Corolla every time you valet park it. You might want to stop doing that.)

Now, even though said pretty girl may be welcomed, she won’t be respected for very long if it turns out she has no soul. And again, the Audi shines. Possessing substance in equal measure to style, the 2013 Audi S5 may well be the most complete package in its segment.

Yes, the BMW 3-Series is an absolutely wonderful drive, the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe is magnetically dynamic, and the Mercedes E-class coupe has great heaping dollops of cachet, but the Audi S5’s fluidly organic combination of style, performance and comfort is singularly compelling — while simultaneously encompassing the best qualities of all of those other cars.

(Just in case you couldn’t tell, we’re very enthusiastic fans.)

2013 Audi S5 Road Test & Review: Models & Prices

A subset of Audi’s A5 range of cars, s of 2013 the S5 is now the middle 5 since its high achieving RS5 sibling just acquired its green card. Available in both coupe and convertible formats, we tested the S5 coupe.

Within the S5 range, two levels of trim are offered, Premium Plus and Prestige. Pricing for the Premium Plus S5 Coupe with a six-speed manual transmission starts at $50,900. The Prestige packaged S5 comes in at $57,550, should you elect to shift it for yourself.

If you’d prefer your S5 equipped with Audi’s excellent seven-speed automated manual “S-Tronic” transmission like our test car, you’ll break off $52,300 for the Premium Plus and $58,950 for the Prestige package.

The destination charge for all 2013 Audi S5 models is $895.

Our Prestige-trimmed test car was also laced with the Driver Assist package ($3,250); Nappa leather upholstery ($1,250), the sports differential ($1,250), 19-inch wheels and summer tires ($800), and carbon inlay interior trim ($500).

Its as-tested price was $67,370.

2013 Audi S5 Road Test & Review: Design

Clothed in the automotive equivalent of a finely tailored suit, the Audi S5 radiates an aura of exclusivity, grace and authority. For the 2013 model year, the S5 presents an all-new face to the world, thanks to the acquisition of an updated version of the signature Audi single frame grille. This new one is distinguished from the previous one by a pair of angled upper corners.

Contributing further to the revised appearance is a new front bumper featuring a pronounced set of air inlets, revamped grille coverings, an air splitter, and a set of flat fog lights. While we’re on the subject of illumination, the 2013 Audi S5 is also fitted with a new sharply drawn headlamp treatment — at once more sleek and more dynamic. The new LED daytime running lamps design endow the S5 with a threatening glare, telegraphing your intent to the slower-moving cars in your path are as you approach.

(And trust us, most cars on the road fall solidly into that category.)

Long story short, as graceful as its fluidly flowing profile appears when it’s parked, the 2013 Audi S5 looks extremely mean coming up fast in a rear-view mirror.

2013 Audi S5 Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo

Contributing hugely to the dynamic personality of the Audi, the S5’s interior is outstanding in its beauty and craftsmanship, in addition to being highly comfortable. The magnificently sculpted sport seats do an excellent job of providing support—yet they’re also easy to get in and out of. Freshly reupholstered for 2013, new hide offerings include perforated Milano and Fine Nappa leather.

Rear seat occupants will rely heavily on the generosity of front seat passengers for legroom. As is to be expected in a sport coupe that commodity is rather scarce. Also the Audi’s sleek profile incurs an intrusion upon headroom for people seated in the rear. Odds are this will occur rather infrequently, so it’s not a huge negative from our perspective — but it is a wart nonetheless.

Conversely, trunk space is quite generous; there are an abundance of storage cubbies inside the Audi as well.

2013 Audi S5 Road Test & Review: Features & Controls

The tasteful carbon accents in our test S5 announced clearly this was the performance version of Audi’s coupe, while the secondary controls grouped around the shift lever quietly reminded us no other manufacturer is capable of besting Audi when it comes to interior design and ergonomics.

Our test car’s upgraded Bang and Olufsen audio system (part of the Prestige package) was rivaled only by the engine’s exhaust note for sweetness of sound. Meanwhile, Audi’s MultiMedia Interface (MMI) for communications, navigation and other key functions of the car remains the easiest to use on the market.

The S5 comes standard with a sport suspension and braking system, Xenon headlights, a tilting glass panel roof with a sunshade, heated auto-dimming exterior mirrors, heated 12-way adjustable sport seats, a three-spoke flat-bottomed steering wheel, and an auto dimming inside rear-view mirror with a compass readout. Other standard kit includes Bluetooth audio and telephony, satellite radio, a CD player, and an iPod interface.

The Prestige package our test car carried brought adaptive lighting, side assist, keyless entry and start, a Bang and Olufsen sound system, and navigation. To this was added the Driver Assist package’s adaptive cruise control, drive select controls and dynamic steering.

Stand-alone options offered on our test car included 19-inch wheels, a sports differential, a power rear sunshade (coupe only) and a choice of carbon-fiber (fitted to our test car) or stainless steel interior trim.

Oh, BTW, the 2013 Audi S5 is also configured to serve as a mobile WiFi hotspot.

2013 Audi S5 Road Test & Review: Safety & Ratings

Standard safety features for our 2013 Audi S5 test car included front-seat side and knee airbags along with full-length side curtain airbags. Antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control are standard fare as well.

The Prestige package fitted to our tester endowed us with blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. Our S5 would also stop itself if it sensed it was about to hit something (at speeds under 19 mph). The system sounds an audible warning before attempting to stop the car.

Neither NHTSA nor the IIHS have crash tested the Audi.

2013 Audi S5 Road Test & Review: Engine/Fuel Economy

Powered by a 333-horsepower supercharged V6 producing 325 ft-lbs of torque, the S5, revels in its gloriously polished aural signature, while harboring a level of execution wholly in keeping with the promise of its exterior styling.

Previous iterations of the S5 Coupe were powered by a 354-horsepower 4.2-liter V8; the supercharged V6 used to be fitted only to the S5 convertible. If you want a V8 in your Audi coupe now, your only choices are to get a pre-owned S5 or a current RS5.

Fuel economy ratings are 18-mpg city/28-mpg highway and 21-mpg combined with the seven-speed semi-manual direct shift gearbox and all-wheel drive system with which our test S5 came equipped.

2013 Audi S5 Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions

Out on the road, acceleration is strong, the engine winds way more smoothly than any V6 is entitled to, and the gear ratios are nicely spaced—with just the right amount of overlap. You never find yourself struggling to find the right gear in hard charging circumstances.

While the bubbly burbling V8’s exhaust note has been replaced by the growl of a high winding V6 — overlain with the song of a supercharger, the sound is wholly evocative of a high performance automobile. Full throttle operation still excites the right set of synapses, competently delivering the pleasure one expects to derive when piloting a high-performance European automobile.

What’s truly fantastic though is the dichotomous fashion in which the engine behaves. When there’s room to rock, it’s a great party date, but the V6 also chills demurely when the situation dictates decorum. Put it on an open road and, well, let’s just say the party girl comes right out. But, trundling around town, the S5 proficiently does domestic duties displaying utter sophistication.

In other words, the 2013 Audi S5 proves a party girl can be a housewife too.

Of course, we typically come to dance, and as we intimated, when the beat goes funky the S5 loves to get down. The all-wheel drive system (Quattro in Audi-speak) is biased to the rear to impart that classic rear-drive high performance feel—except when the back end can’t get a grip. Then, the front end bites to keep the party rolling right. Additionally, Audi’s engineers have incorporated lateral torque transfer (side to side in addition to front to back) to help the S5 mitigate understeer, enabling the coupe to turn into corners crisply and predictably.

The steering and braking systems are very generous contributors to the fun, bringing, as they do, a nice amount of control and accuracy to the mix. While some will decry the electro-mechanical steering system as devoid of feel, nobody questions its accuracy.

The S5’s sport suspension system, while endowing the coupe with tremendous agility, also keeps that voluptuous body stable—regardless of the maneuver—enabling all four tires to bite ferociously. That it does so without inducing a jarring stiffness of ride is another plus.

Our test car’s S-tronic seven-speed automated-manual transmission was a miracle of modern technology. Left in its automatic (“D”) mode, the gearbox delivered smooth changes, while striving to achieve the best possible fuel economy. Slide it one notch farther back into its (“S”) sport mode, then attack a twisting stretch of pavement and you’ll marvel at its ability to faithfully find exactly the right gear for each and every cornering situation.

You’ll beam at the way it downshifts (complete with rev-matching throttle blips) as you brake to enter, settling in precisely the right gear to facilitate your exit riding the crest of the engine’s torque curve. Further, should you place the S-tronic in its manual mode and take over gear changes for yourself, you’ll very quickly learn the transmission is better at its task than you, and it’s faster at it too.

2013 Audi S5 Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts

It’s important to note the S5’s overall demeanor is more GT than sports car. The S5, at 3,900 pounds isn’t exactly a tossable roadster. Within that however, the curvaceous Audi coupe is more than capable of plastering grin after grin across your face as you rocket from apex to apex relishing the massive waves of thrust generated by the 3.0-liter supercharged V6.

Audi is known throughout the automotive industry for the quality, style and craftsmanship of its interiors. Many an auto manufacturer has cribbed off of Audi when it comes to interior design. You’ll never wonder if you paid too much when you drive an Audi — any Audi.

That it is clothed in some of the most attractive sheetmetal on the road is another very strong plus. Few cars are as good-looking as the two-door Audi. You’ll look back over your shoulder in a self-congratulatory fashion every time you walk away from the car.

2013 Audi S5 Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons

Pros

• Brilliant style

• Powerful engine

• Beautiful interior

• Reasonable fuel economy

Cons

• The basic media interface setup is a bit clunky, get the MMI

• Back seat a perfect fit for Hobbits and/or Munchkins, but hardly anyone else.

• Muted road feel from the steering system

By Lyndon Conrad Bell