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2010 Audi S5 Quattro MT6 Coupe – NOT an M3… So, what is it?

It’s not really under debate as to whether or not the Audi S5 is a beautiful road going machine… (both inside and out) It really ‘is’. The current debate now centers on which vehicle the S5 comes closest to competing with and will we will miss the S5’s outgoing 4.2L V8?
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The short answer is a (3″) wider 335i with x-drive and NO we are not going to miss the 4.2L V8… except for maybe the exhaust note.
This particular S5 was equipped with everything from a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system to a navigation system and backup camera. The normally aspirated 4.2L V8 does slap you with a $1,300 gas-guzzler tax but if you can afford the car at $53K plus ($66,450 as tested) we’re pretty sure you can afford the tax. Well, all right, so maybe you are like many of our 40,000+ new vehicle respondents who say they want the same or better performance as now with better fuel economy. Not to worry!!! Audi promises to deliver the S5 with a 3.0L Supercharged V6 instead of the 4.2L V8…

The ‘S’ equation that turns an A5 into an S5 gives the car exterior and interior trim enhancements not found on the more pedestrian A5, such as light grey instrument gauge faces, shorter gears in the 6-spd gear box, bigger brakes, sportier suspension, and of course the 4.2L normally aspirated V8 which gulped fuel as if we were heir to the throne of an oil rich nation. The window sticker may have suggested 14-22 mpg but our real-time averages ranged from 14-18 mpg, as indicated by the car’s trip computer. A colleague took the vehicle to lunch and reported a real-time average of 10.2mpg (granted that was around town – but sheesh!).
When I think of Audi I think of a manufacturer whose role it is to be the anti-BMW, the quiet third party who just happens to be a genius. For the last few years it has been easy to say that I haven’t met an Audi that I didn’t like. Well, as of last weekend I’m sorry to say that I’ve found one that left me wanting. Wanting less weight, less girth and better fuel economy. Which lead me to my next question…
What is an Audi S5? Is it a Grand Touring vehicle, a Sports Car, a Sporty Car, a tertiary vehicle to run errands in? What does it want to be and who has the $60K to throw down on a two-door AUDI MUSTANG?
Well, I would submit that it is a Grand Touring vehicle with a sports car edge. We also found out using AutoPacific research data that most Audi A5 new vehicle buyers are males over the age of 50 and with a household income around $183K… Moreover, 71% of A5 owners are satisfied with their vehicle. Which tells us a lot…
Youth may have clouded my appreciation for such a finely tuned, sophisticated machine. The S5 felt a little too big, a little too heavy, and ended up being a little too thirsty. Not to mention it is simply so sophisticated and smooth that it lacks the feeling of being super quick. The weight, all-wheel-drive, and mechanical precision insulate the driver from believing the speedometer is accurately telling the tale of sub-five second 0-60 times.
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Another issue may have been that I expected the Audi S5 to be a BMW M3 coupe competitor as both have 4.0L+ V8s and base model prices that begin in the mid-50K range. But the S5 had too many BMW 6-Series similarities for the boy racer in me: 6-Series horsepower (360hp) width (73″) and weight (3800+ curb weight). The S5 is rated at 354hp (V8 is normally aspirated – whereas the M3 is forced aspiration), 73″ wide, and weighs over 3800lbs… interesting… It was the horsepower, width and weight that threw me off the M3 analogy.
After my weekend experience I believe a more apt comparison could be made between the S5 and maybe a BMW 335i with x-drive. My reasoning… well, the Audi S5 wheelbase is 108.3″ (BMW 335i x-drive coupe = 108.7″ WB) S5 OAL is 182.5″ (335i xdrive coupe = 181.1″) S5 width is 73″ (335i x-drive coupe is 70.15″) Audi S5 weighs in at 3935lbs. (335i xdrive coupe = 3759lbs).
Thank goodness the S5 is slated to receive the 3.0L supercharged six-cylinder this year (the same supercharged V6 that the 2010 S4 is flaunting). This will align the S5 more closely with the BMW 335i while Audi works on bringing an RS5 to market (confirmed for Europe, not confirmed yet Stateside) in an effort to truly go after the M3 market. The 4.2L V8 has that solid delivery of horsepower & torque, much like a punch delivered by John Wayne whereas the supercharged 3.0L V6 will probably deliver a punch more like that of Bruce Lee.
The 3.0L supercharged six-cylinder in the new S5 will offer 333 horses. Sure it will be fewer than the 4.2L’s 354, but it will also weigh less, accelerate quicker and consume less fuel. That’s a great combination! We may miss the 4.2L V8 exhaust note but I think we’re willing to make the trade off.
Note: We found that if the S5 were to have lost the extra 3″ of width (making it the same width as the 3-series BMW) it would have also lost about 160 lbs. Almost making up for the 176.4 lbs. more than the all-wheel-drive BMW 3-series. Interesting! Then again, in the past many Americans want the same size or larger vehicle next time they go to purchase their next vehicle.

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