The Audi A5 might be one of the best-looking coupes introduced in the last decade. The clean lines, LED running lights, and the overall sleekness were just something that you associated with Audi design. That sleekness remains, but Audi’s design has morphed into something that could be called cookie cutter. To spice things up here in the US, Audi has taken a page out of the German playbook book and brought its four-door coupe along with the traditional coupe. Now offered in A5, S5 and even RS5 guise, the new Sportback is a larger step forward than you might think. We spent some time with new 2018 Audi S5 Sportback to learn more.
On the outside, you’d be forgiven if you can’t tell the S5 from the regular A5. The quad tailpipes, grille, and side mirrors are really the only dead giveaways. Styling is good, but not groundbreaking, like the first generation car. The 2018 feels more like a safe restyle, and adding extra two doors seems to help the design of this new car. The Sportback is now slightly more attractive than its two-door counterpart in our opinion.
Our week with the S5 Sportback was one of wintery weather. The standard Quattro all-wheel-drive was a fine companion, and the winter tire package was a welcome addition. Behind the wheel, you immediately gain confidence with the excellent driving position. You feel like you’re in the car rather than on top of it, and you have a great view forward. The interior continues the trend of superb Audi quality, with Virtual Cockpit and MMI taking center stage. The former is a completely configurable gauge cluster with different layouts for the navigation, speedometer, tachometer, and stereo information. These screens can change with the drive mode you select as well.
First thing you notice with the new S5 Sportback is the exhaust. It is not a quiet car inside or out when you’re having fun. It is loud, with pops and cracks on upshifts and downshifts. The audible excitement of the car brings a smile on your face every time. The 3.0L V6 engine may sound familiar, but this time it’s got a turbocharger strapped to it rather than a supercharger. Power figures are 354 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. All the power is routed to the Quattro system through a ZF-sourced 8 speed automatic. The shifts are incredibly crisp and offers seamless shifts in comfort and auto mode, or it can feel like a dual clutch in dynamic mode.
Though the driving position may be excellent, the drive itself left some things to be desired. We weren’t able to push the S5 Sportback all the way to its limits due to weather conditions and its M+S rated tires, but the baseline characteristics allowed us to get a pretty good picture. The steering is by far the weak point here. Our optional dynamic steering is one to leave off the options list. We felt like it lost the personality of the car considering how much fun the rest of the drive is. The motor is a gem with very little lag from the turbo, and the transmission is always keeping you in the right rev range. The S Sport Package adds the optional torque-vectoring differential and adaptive dampers, which serve to make the ride firm or firmer depending on what setting you have them set in. The whole package is extremely adept at bringing the sport out of this Sportback.
The S5 Sportback is certainly a strong contender in the ever-hot sport coupe segment. Dynamically lacking behind some, but higher in quality and composure than others, it seems to be stuck in the middle. Perhaps the RS5 can rectify the situation, and propel itself to the top of the class.
|2018 Audi S5 Sportback Presteige
|Fine Nappa leather seats in Magma Red with diamond stitching||$1,250|
|Carbon Atlas inlays||$800|
|Cold Weather Package||$500|
|Driver Assistance Package||$1,800|
|S Sport Package||$1,250|
|19″ 5-spoke wheels||$800|
|As Tested MSRP||$67,300|
Related: Rings Redux: 2014 Audi S5