Taking a Hard Look: 2011 Audi S5
By Aaron Mendelson
Audi has long been focused on dethroning the BMW M3 and its legendary status as the ‘performance king’ of the auto industry and the S5 coupe may just be its best shot yet. Stylistically, the Audi S5 brings a much cleaner look to the table when put next to the airbrushed BMW M3. While the M3 sports multiple bulges and creases, the flowing lines of the S5 really shine in comparison.
Inside all of the interior components are top of the line in terms of look and feel and the option for birch wood trim adds a nice touch to the interior. Potential buyers who love a dark interior will quickly be beaming, as the color of the dashboard, center console, carpets and doors are all black. Although the majority of the interior will always be black, those who like to mix and match will have the option of beige, brown or red leather.
When it’s time to hit the gas pump, buyers need to take their gas budget into consideration before purchasing. The 354HP 4.2L V8 that has been Audi’s V8 of choice for some time continues with the S5 coupe and has quite a thirst, with an average 18.1 MPG over 800 miles (80% highway). But the downside of a little pain at the pump is easily made up from the rich V8 sound, which is one of the best you will ever hear.
Speaking of which, when the petal hits the metal, it quickly becomes clear that the drive is where the S5 truly shines. Audi’s clutch and shifter action is right on the money: a slightly firm clutch and short shifts. While straight line performance and handling may lag slightly behind M3 standards, the V8 possesses excellent low-end grunt and epic, pucker-free grip.
Looking over the sticker price, Audi’s reputation for competitive pricing does not fail to disappoint. If your main concern is just finding a way to roll off the lot in your spanking new S5 coupe, a skin and bones model begins at $53,650. If your wallet is overflowing with greenbacks, the Prestige model can be had for $59,550, which adds keyless entry and ignition, Bang & Olufson audio system, navigation and the third-generation MMI navigation system. A comparably equipped M3 (keeping in mind the M3 is of course RWD only) would be around 10K more before dealer markup.
Even if the Audi S5 coupe does not achieve its goal of overtaking the M3, which no other car in its class has been able to do, it is still quite a beast in its own right. Having a V8 Coupe with AWD certainly packs quite a punch and should hold you over quite nicely until the long awaited arrival of the S5 3.0T coupe and its hyper charged V6 becomes a reality.