Audi’s S5 is one of the best looking sport coupes on the market. However, its 354 hp, 325 lb-ft naturally aspirated V8 has fallen a bit behind the times. For 2013, the V8 has been replaced with the supercharged V6 from the Audi S4. The new engine makes 333 hp, with torque output remaining the same as the old V8. That said, maximum torque is now available between 2900 and 5300RPM, much longer than the outgoing engines max output at 3500RPM.
The only further mechanical change for 2013 is the shift from hydraulic to electromechanical steering. Steering weight can be adjusted, along with suspension stiffness, and exhaust note in Audi’s Drive Select settings. Other drivetrain options remain the same, with a choice of S-tronic dual-clutch automatic or 6-speed manual transmissions. Also retained is Audi’s optional Sport Rear Differential, a must-have option for enthusiasts. A few interior updates refresh the cabin, especially the new flat-bottomed wheel.
Outside, the Audi S5 sports a smart new face. Redesigned headlights with more LEDs set off the slightly reshaped one-piece grille. New double-set slats now run horizontally, hiding the front cross-member. Square fog lights replace the outgoing round ones, now encased in trim closely matching the LED outline in the headlights. We love the new-found aggression in the S5’s face.
Our friends at Langan Audi invited us to test drive their new demo vehicle. Driving characteristics are superb. The car feels smaller and more balanced than before. Steering was a bit light at low speed, and the clutch uptake was quite high. The steering problem can be fixed by setting the Drive Select option to Dynamic. This has the added bonus of improving the S5’s exhaust note. At wide-open-throttle, the supercharger whine is just audible above the sweet raspiness. Quick upshifts also produce a lovely burble. The car has a muted sense of straight-line speed. Highway cruising is quiet and smooth. Unfortunately, this might get you into a little bit of trouble. We experienced a bit of understeer as we entered a highway off-ramp with a bit too much spirit. The quattro system stepped in and righted the situation quickly. Brakes are also predictably effective.
The 2013 S5 starts at $50,900. Our car was a nearly fully loaded Prestige model with Audi’s Drive Assist package, Nappa leather interior, the Sport Rear Differential, and 19″ wheels, coming to $66,320. We’re not sure we can justify that price, but a lesser optioned Premium model would have all the go for quite a bit less money. The family man also has the option of saving a few more dollars by opting for the S4, achieving nearly all the same performance, albeit without the drop-dead looks of the new S5. The cars are beginning to appear in dealerships now. The only other person to test drive this demo car has already placed an order. If that isn’t enough of an endorsement, we don’t know what is.