The official Audi A5 and S5 coupé launch event was recently held in Portugal. On the surface, it appears that Audi has pulled out all the stops in attempting to make certain this second generation is well received.
Hitting showrooms in the UK come Autumn, the new flagship model holds a number of surprises. The basic shape of this new model can be traced back to the 9 year old outgoing model, but the similarities end there. This is a completely new design and it shows. The new A5 is longer and wider than its predecessor. The signature hexagonal grille has been flattened and widened with the newly shaped headlights sitting slightly higher, giving the car a lower, more menacing look. Those newly shaped headlights house standard xenon lights or the optional fantastic LED matrix lights.
The bonnet is longer with a sculpted central bulge better suited to a muscle car. Somehow, it doesn’t look out of place, especially from the driver’s seat. The side profile offers up larger wheel arches made prominent by the curved shoulder line running above – paying homage to the original Quattro. The precision of the surfaces and accuracy of the shut lines and trim inserts is close to perfect, this car looks and feels like a quality product.
The rear of the car completes the sharp image Audi were aiming for. The new LED rear lights hint at the fact this A5 is part of the new B9 generation A4 and maintains the strong feeling of presence. Audi made no secret of the fact that, in styling terms, they did not want to stray too far from the original A5 – a success story for the company with 330,000 sold over its lifespan. They wanted to make the new model more elegant and shaper looking, a goal I certainly think they have achieved.
From spending some time behind wheel it’s clear that Audi can tick another box on design philosophy checklist – making the car more sporty. During the time spent in Portugal we tested a number of cars from the entry level diesel to the S5, very different cars yet all providing an underlying sporty feel.
The new car shares its chassis with the latest A4. That’s no bad thing. The chassis is both stronger and lighter than in the model it replaces. It is a five-link construction design apparently 30% stiffer than previously. Audi claim that this can offer a more precise feel whilst simultaneously offering greater comfort. From the experience in the cars we tested, I have to agree. However, all the cars we tested were equipped with optional suspension damper control, the standard setup may differ.
The A5 now offers a choice of three diesel and two petrol engines. It is claimed they provide up to 17% more power alongside economy savings of up to 22% over the units used in the outgoing model. The petrol lineup includes the latest evolution of Audi’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with either 187bhp or 252bhp. We tested the latter matched to the 7-speed S tronic dual clutch gearbox with Quattro. It was an impressive and surprisingly good set up. Refinement was good and the quick witted gearbox really suited the engine. This model can sprint to 62 in just 5.8 seconds whilst returning a combined 39.9mpg and only emitting 136g of CO2 per kilometer.
The diesel entries start with a 187bhp variant of Audi’s widely used 2.0-litre four-cylinder. It lines up alongside the silky smooth 3.0-litre V6 diesel, offered with the choice of either 215bhp or 286 bhp. The four-cylinder engine and lower powered six-cylinder come as standard with a six-speed manual or the optional seven-speed S tronic in both front wheel drive and Quattro forms. The range topping 286 bhp six-cylinder diesel comes as standard with the class leading eight-speed ZF gearbox and Quattro.
We tested the entry level four-cylinder oil burner in front wheel drive guise. Don’t be fooled, the car will not break any records, and yes, at low speeds refinement is not great but it is as good as it can be with a four-cylinder diesel. This aside, the car doesn’t feel like a poor man’s A5. The S tronic gearbox gave the engine a sporty feel and the car pulls itself along at a surprising pace, more accurately, to 62 in 7.2 seconds. The car felt composed and comfortable, the new chassis providing good levels of grip, inspiring confidence. It must also be noted that in this set-up, the car only emits 107g of CO2 per kilometer and boasts a combined 53.5mpg. These figures may in part be due to the fact that the new car is up to 60kg lighter than the outgoing model and boasts a class leading drag coefficient of 0.25.
2017 Audi S5 Review
The most potent A5 variant at present is the S5. Its all new turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 produces 354 hp. This increase of 21hp over the previous S5 is enough to knock 0.2 seconds from the 0-62mph time, which now stands at 4.7 seconds. The power is channelled through the eight-speed ZF gearbox with a Tiptronic paddle shift function and onto the road through the Quattro system which comes with an optional sport differential. The S5 shoots you to 62 in just 4.7 seconds, a huge reduction of 0.7 seconds compared with the previous S5. Fuel consumption has also improved, dropping five percent to a combined 32.2mpg. This new powerplant shares very few components with the previous engine. The higher compression and twin scroll turbocharger increase the efficiency and output of the engine whilst the design manages to be much more compact and 14kg lighter than the outgoing unit.
We were able to test the S5 on a range of different surface types and settings. As you would expect, this is a very capable car. The gearbox is clever and fast, matching the low down torque perfectly – not once did the car feel unresponsive, power is always ready on tap. The car doesn’t manage to replicate the light and nimble feeling 2.0-litre petrol, but the levels of grip through corners is impressive giving no hint of losing composure. The optional damper control made most sense on the S5 with dynamic mode bringing the car to life. In comfort mode, the ride becomes noticeably supple – refreshing compared with fast Audi’s of old.
The steering feel of all the test cars was noteworthy, giving a good deal of feedback whist being sufficiently well weighted. Optional dynamic steering was fitted to our test S5. You can feel the system working, varying the gear ratio depending on speed and steering angle. It took some time to get used to, but aims to provide greater confidence through fast bends and adapt to your current driving style.
Driver aids like Stop&Go adaptive cruise control and lane assist give the A5 the ability to drive semi-autonomously. The new car also features various safety systems including multi-collision brake assist system, blind spot monitoring and camera based recognition of traffic signs.
On the inside, the interior adopts a similar look that that of the latest A4, with a layered dashboard helping to visually widen the cabin. Audi’s recent attempts at interior design have been among the most pleasant on the market. The brilliant Virtual Cockpit is an optional extra, while the majority of the car’s infotainment functions are displayed on an 8.3 inch monitor controlled by the familiar MMI rotary dial with touch sensitive pad. The use of high-end, soft-touch materials exudes an air of quality that is not matched by other mainstream manufacturers.
Further options include the Audi smartphone interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a wireless smartphone charging pad and an Audi connect SIM offering Wi-Fi hotspot data packages and EU-wide roaming. Our test cars were also equipped with the fantastic optional Bang and Olufsen 3D sound system – a must for music lovers.
Interior space is more generous than in the outgoing model. As the wheelbase has grown, front and rear legroom has increased, although the rear cannot be described as spacious. At 465 litres, the boot is 10 litres larger than before and provides 15 litres more space than the BMW 4 Series. It can be opened with the optional gesture control via foot motion and levers inside can be used to lower the rear seat, which divides 40/20/40, without having to climb inside adding an air of practicality to this sleek coupé.
2017 Audi A5 and Audi S5 Price
Pricing for the new A5 is yet to be confirmed. However, Audi estimate that prices will start at around the £30,000 mark climbing to roughly £45,000 for the range-topping S5.