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2014 Audi S5 Overview
Wedged between the comfortable and capable Audi A5 on one side and the performance-oriented RS 5 on the other, the 2014 Audi S5 could be considered in two ways. It's either a vehicle in search of a niche or the best of all worlds, depending on how you look at it. If you desire a competent luxury coupe or cabriolet at a relatively affordable price, the A5 might be your best choice. If top-of-the-line performance and handling are your prerequisites, look no further than the RS 5. But if you're seeking something that delivers a high level of performance, a luxury-oriented cabin and all the latest technical advances, along with decent fuel economy and a price comfortably between the upper and lower options, the Audi S5 coupes and cabriolets might just be the right choice for you.
The S5 coupes and cabriolets, available at Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels, receive only a few minor updates for 2014. Audi adds its Drive Select system as a standard feature for all 2014 S5 trims and introduces a new optional Black Optic exterior package, which enhances the S5's appearance with such features as a Black Optic high-gloss grille, glossy black exterior trim and 19-inch wheels with a Titanium Rotor design. Audi's advanced key system becomes standard equipment on the S5, and the Side Assist blind-spot alert system becomes a standalone option on the Premium Plus trim. It's currently standard on the Prestige trim. In addition, Audi offers layered aluminum and black interior wood inlays as a new option for 2014.
When it comes to power, the S5 straddles a potent performance line. It continues into 2014 with its supercharged 3.0-liter TFSI V6 engine, which produces 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. That compares to the A5's 220-hp 4-cylinder engine and the RS 5's 450-hp V8. In its standard configuration, the S5's V6 mates to a 6-speed manual transmission, which most testers prefer. However, owners can opt for a 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode. The S5's V6 emits a pleasant growl and delivers plenty of power, while still managing decent fuel economy numbers of 17 mpg city/26 highway with the manual transmission and 18/28 with the S tronic automatic. For comparison, fuel economy for the RS 5's V8 tops out at 23 mpg. On the flip side, the RS 5 makes the leap from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, while it takes the S5 slightly longer at 4.9 seconds. Owners who value both performance and fuel efficiency might find the S5 a better overall fit, with those additional 0.4 seconds barely noticeable. Audi limits top speeds for the S5 to 155 mph.
Audi's Drive Select system, which now comes standard on the S5, gives drivers the ability to adjust the vehicle's ride and handling. The system offers 4 driver-selectable buttons for Comfort, Dynamic, Auto or Individual settings. The Comfort mode provides a more relaxing ride, while the Dynamic mode adjusts steering and throttle settings for a sportier, more responsive performance. Auto adapts to road conditions, while the Individual setting allows for personal customization.
Most reviewers agree the S5 delivers a composed yet sporty ride that's comfortable enough for around-town driving yet firm enough for zooming along twisty roads. The S5's suspension features a 5-link setup and stabilizer bar in the front and S sport suspension calibration in the rear for a tight, controlled feel. Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, which comes standard, splits torque 40/60 front-to-rear under typical operation. Owners can add an available rear sport differential, which distributes power to the rear wheels as needed to improve grip and traction in tight corners and when accelerating out of curves.
The S5's speed-sensitive electromechanical power steering system, which switched from a hydraulic system in 2013, provides good response and feedback, although some testers say it feels light at times. Even the S5's ventilated disc brakes straddle the line between the A5 and the RS 5, with its front brakes measuring 13.6 inches, compared to the A5's 12.6-inch front brakes and 14.4-inch units on the RS 5. The S5 rides on 18-inch S-design wheels with summer performance tires, although owners can opt for a number of available 19-inch wheels, including ones with a titanium finish.
Outside, the sporty S5 coupes and cabriolets include a few exterior elements designed to distinguish them from their A5 counterparts. Both display clean, classic lines, with Audi's signature Silverframe grille up front. However, the S5 gets automatic HID headlights, as opposed to the A5's halogen units. Both get daytime running lights. The S5 also receives quad exhaust pipes, while the A5 makes do with dual pipes. The S5 also upgrades to LED taillights. The heated power-adjustable side mirrors add auto-dimming on the S5, and an S exterior package adds such additional features as a platinum gray matte Singleframe grille, aluminum front and rear diffuser blades and a rear spoiler. Front foglights and heated windshield wiper nozzles are among the other standard exterior features on all S5 trims, while the S5 cabriolet also includes a power-operated folding soft top, which drivers can raise and lower at speeds of up to 31 mph. The cabriolet also includes a pop-up rollbar safety system.
Inside, the S5 offers a quiet, comfortable cabin, with high-quality materials, soft-touch surfaces, decorative inlays and good fit and finish. The rear seats in both the coupe and cabriolet remain tight for taller passengers, with limited headroom in the coupe due to the sloping roofline. But both the coupe and cabriolet offer good legroom and headroom in the front. Leather upholstery with Alcantara inserts comes standard, and the S sport-contoured front seats feature 12-way power adjustment, 4-way power lumbar support and memory settings for the driver's side. A flat-bottom 3-spoke multifunction tilt-telescoping sport steering wheel adds a sporty interior feel, while Audi's advanced key system becomes a standard feature for 2014. All trims get 3-zone automatic climate control, while the coupe also receives a panoramic tilting sunroof, a black cloth headliner and 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks. Cargo space in the S5's trunk measures 12.2 cubic feet in the coupe and 10.2 in the cabriolet.
Tech features on the Premium Plus trims include a 10-speaker, 180-watt Audi sound system with a 6.5-inch color screen, HD radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth, a CD player and an iPod port. Prestige trims upgrade to a 14-speaker, 505-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system. The Prestige trims also include Audi's MMI navigation, an 8-inch color display and the automaker's new Side Assist system, which monitors blind spots and alerts drivers of approaching vehicles. The navigation unit also incorporates Audi's Connect system, which provides in-vehicle WiFi and localized weather and information. Owners of Premium Plus trims can add Side Assist as a standalone option for 2014. Other interior options include Nappa leather upholstery and the new aluminum and black wood inlays.
The S5 comes equipped with 8 standard airbags, including knee and thorax side airbags. Electronic stability control, traction control and antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist are among the other standard safety features. In addition, Audi offers a new optional adaptive cruise control system for 2014, which monitors vehicles ahead using long-distance radar and keeps the S5 at a safe distance. Although the 2014 S5 has not yet been safety-tested, the 2013 A4/S4, upon which the S5 is based, was named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS.
Like similar vehicles in Audi's stable, the S5 gets good marks for its overall balance of features. It might not be the quickest sport coupe off the mark, but its cabin ranks at or near the top of its class, and the combination of performance, luxury and efficiency should appeal to savvy buyers. While the S5 costs more than the A5, and doesn't deliver the top-shelf performance of the RS 5, it manages to stake out a comfortable middle ground between the two. Competitors to the S5 include the BMW 3 Series coupes and convertibles, including the 335i, as well as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, CL-Class and CLS-Class coupes. The Infiniti G37 coupe, Cadillac CTS-V coupe and Volvo C70 coupe and convertible, which features a retractable hardtop, are among the S5's other competitors.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.
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