Audi churns out some of the most serious driving delights that you can put a pedal to. So the arrival of a duo of all-new big coupes should make driving nuts flock to spin their metal. First out of the gate is the V8 promise of the S5, followed by the only slightly tamer V6 A5.  It’s a tempting pair of two doors to be sure, and we won’t resist.

Buyers tempted by luxury coupes expect sporting style and performance to be essential elements of any brand’s appeal, and Audi designer Walter de’Silva has worked hard to give the S5 and A5, Audi’s first large coupes in 13 years, a seriously satisfying sporting edge.  The development of that athletic personality started back in 2003, with the Nuvolari concept car. Its low, bold, yet sharp edged design set it apart from most larger two-door of the time. 

And much of that ground breaking style carries over into our S5 test car. Like the Nuvolari, the S5 wears muscular, sharply focused lines.  From the deep signature single-frame Audi grille and sparkling LED’s that act as daytime running lamps.  Across the racy, high shouldered flanks to the silky smooth rear with its sharply raked rear glass, the S5’s look is one of the most dynamic in the luxury performance coupe ranks.

Built on the new short-overhang B8 platform also used on the new A4, the S5 is 182.5-inches long, almost as long as the A6 sedan. Wheelbase is 108.3-inches. 

Power is effortlessly provided by Audi’s superb 4.2-liter direct-injection V-8.  In the S5 it delivers 354 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque.  Gearbox choices are our car’s standard 6-speed manual, or an optional 6-speed Tiptronic automatic with manual paddle shifters.  Power reaches the standard 19-inch alloy wheels through Audi’s world class quattro all-wheel-drive.

With all four wheels spinning, the S5 hits 60 in a brief 5.5 seconds and rips through the quarter-mile in 14.2 seconds at an even 100 miles-per-hour.

The 4.2 V8 delivers instant punch, though the sharp clutch engagement requires you to ride it on launch for a smooth getaway.  Likewise the slightly notchy shift mechanism requires a smooth hand for quick shifts. Get it right, and the S5 really flies.

Out on the road, the S5 exhibits a big refined autobahn thrust in all gears. Passing is effortless, and there’s never a shortage of grunt out of tight corners.

But the price is a pretty big thirst. Our S5 manual has government fuel economy ratings of 14 city/21 highway on Premium.

On both road and track, the S5 provides drivers with an ultra-solid connection to the pavement.

Steering, suspension and chassis balance are sports car sharp, and the Quattro system delivers copious grip that allows you to push the S5 much harder than the average luxury 2-door. Yet the response is as refined as it is immediate. This is after all, a luxury sport coupe.

Our one performance disappointment was in braking. Our S5 stop from 60 in a rather long average distance of 137 feet. The pedal was soft, with noticeable ABS pulse, but the chassis remained straight and solid.

Still, the S5 is overall a sharp performer. But, this car is about much more than just speed. It’s about wrapping the occupants in an upscale world, filled with superb standard features that range from Nappa leather to a power sunroof and include options that range from navigation to a premium Bang & Olufsen stereo, plus a rear seat that is actually sized for a pair of adults and a healthy 16.1 cubic-feet of trunk space to boot.

All for a price that starts at $52,575. Not cheap, but still an impressive combination of luxury and sporting performance for the money.

A combination that remains functionally intact in the less expensive 2008 Audi A5.  Starting at $40,675, the A5 lacks little of the S5’s appeal.

Our A5 packed the S-Line Package, and Audi’s 265-horsepower 3.2-liter V6 and 6-speed Tiptronic paddle-shift automatic.

And like its big bore sibling, the A5 S-Line delivered tight, sharp handling. The V6 engine doesn’t have near the grunt of the S5’s V8, but the Tiptronic transmission still squeezes out plenty of performance. Plus, it has a solid gain on fuel economy with ratings of 16 city and 27 highway on premium.

And like the S5, the A5 offers all the amenities that a luxury car fan demands, and then some.  So whether you opt for the wild S5, or the milder A5, you’ll be satisfied with one of the top end 2-doors of our times.

A seriously sporty premium coupe that offers a superb blend of performance and luxury. Thirteen years in the making, and well worth the wait.



  • Engine: S5 4.2-Liter Direct-injection V-8
  • Horsepower: 354
  • Torque: 325 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 5.5 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.2 Seconds @ 100 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 137 Feet
  • EPA: 14 MPG City/ 21 MPG Highway