[New Info] 2018 Audi S5 Review

At the media drive event for its new A5 and S5 coupes, Audi repeatedly proclaimed the cars to be design icons, as if looking to imbue them with an ineffable status. When Ingolstadt trotted out the first A5 at the 2007 Geneva auto show, jaws quietly dropped. It was a subtle car; its sinew was suggested, rather than paraded. It was an undoubtedly lovely automobile. Fine to drive, too, especially in manual-transmission S5 form, where it took on the character of a quietly brutish hooligan, more back-of-the-pub rude boy than flamboyant Ted or greased-up rocker.

This new S5, though, is more overt, its aggressively furrowed hood pulled down over its squat shield grille. From the side, the original car’s fine character line has been exaggerated into an overly defined, wavy crease that pulls double duty as the hood’s shutline—it seems a more impressive manufacturing feat than an aesthetic one. In back, Audi makes a big deal of its “3D” LED taillights, which look to be victims of a kick to the rump. In short, it comes across as a study after a masterpiece, bereft of fresh ideas. Audi’s bold claims on the design’s behalf had us looking at the car with more scrutiny and, at least at first glance, seeing more a caricature of its predecessor than a new icon. This design may yet grow on us, but it certainly doesn’t create the slack-jawed reaction the first one did.

The Gap between Good and Great
Inside, similarly, the visuals seem to settle for good rather than stretching toward excellent. The silvery door and dash trim seems cribbed from Lexus, while the dash topper resembles decade-old BMW surplus. Tech-wise, the S5 features Audi’s trick TFT-screen instrument cluster, offers a 3D surround-sound system, and gives the occupants 4G LTE connectivity. These digital pleasures, however, no longer wow. With BMW and Mercedes-Benz’s improvements in the infotainment space, the Audi only roundly bests the Lexus RC, the Infiniti Q60, and the Cadillac ATS in terms of pixelated gimcrackery that’s readily usable by the driver. Yes, the new car has more modern features, but the interface no longer leads the pack.

Comfortable at Speed
The performance model’s front end feels more planted than that of the A4/A5; the S5 tracks well and is easy to drive fast, although it’s more autobahn-attuned than it is a back-road barnstormer. Roads with tight curves and elevation changes don’t exactly upset the S5, but neither do they beckon to it. Long, fast sweepers and extended hours in the saddle seem to be the mission here, and we found the sporty coupe an exceptionally comfortable place to while away hours covering miles.

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