2008 Audi S5 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 8, 2008

The 2008 Audi S5 boasts performance like a BMW M3, styling like a Chevrolet Camaro, and a brilliant handling setup that's distinctly Audi--but only the well-heeled need to apply.

TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Audi S5 to write this comprehensive review. Our car experts also drove the 2008 Audi S5 to be able to deliver our definitive opinion on the car, to compare it with other cars in the class, and to provide you with the best information.

The 2008 Audi S5 is a stunning car. The hotted-up V-8 version of the A5 two-door introduced last year throbs with musclecar power--and especially from the rear, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the coming 2009 Chevrolet Camaro, with great proportions, curves, and crests to its sheetmetal.

The Audi essentials are on full display, however. The S5 cranks out 354 horsepower from a 4.2-liter V-8 engine that also spins out 325 pound-feet of torque. With either delightful transmission--six-speed manual or automatic--the 2008 Audi S5 thunders to 60 mph in a blink-quick 4.9 seconds and tops out at 155 mph.

The S5 has brilliant handling, with some occasionally harsh ride motions if you encounter potholes in mid-corner. It turns in flat and responds in a snap, even with electronic power steering, which TheCarConnection.com's editors have mixed feelings about. But the 2008 S5's braking is stellar, and Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system is standard.

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Inside, the 2008 Audi S5 sports a cockpit with a tight feel and a rather complex array of controls on the dash. There are plenty of buttons for radio controls and a generous application of aluminum and chrome trim, too, making the interior a little busy. The front seats are tight where they need to be, unlike the rear seats, which are merely tight and are completely at a loss when asked to handle adult legs. The trunk is large, but the view to the rear while driving is pretty dismal, thanks to the thick pillars and low roofline.

9

2008 Audi S5

Styling

The 2008 Audi S5 seduces the senses, starting with a polished silhouette and a well-finished cabin.

Without a doubt, the 2008 Audi S5 has the looks, the shape, and the sex appeal to rev anyone's engine.

The 2008 Audi S5 is a stunning car. The hotted-up V-8 version of the A5 two-door introduced last year throbs with musclecar power--and especially from the rear, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the coming 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, with great proportions, curves, and crests to its sheetmetal.

Edmunds points out at Audi, “an 'S' instead of an 'A' before a model's number indicates the performance version.” In this case, the S5 stands for “one sinister-looking performance coupe,” Cars.com says. Edmunds likes the “elegant design inside and out.” The S5’s rear spoiler is integrated into the deck lid, and the 19-inch double-spoke alloy wheels add a bit of flair. MyRide.com notes that the "alloys fill the wheel wells," and "a rising lower body crease gives the flanks a bit of added character." To round out the image of this sweet ride, "the low roof line gives the Audi a hunkered-down stance.” Cars.com calls the car's shape "sleek" and automatically recognizable as an Audi, with MyRide.com remarking that "up front is the familial grille, which sits forward of a power-dome hood and between other Audi signature styling cues," such as the "aggressive horizontal headlight housings with (optional) LED daytime running lights." The tail doesn't exactly pop out at you, but the "trim taillights and a clear fascia design" make for a "subdued" style.

Cars.com details the differences between the S5 and the 2008 Audi A5: “Even though the S5's lines are essentially the same as the A5's, a number of subtle cues will tip off informed bystanders to the fact that they're looking at an S model. Details include a revised grille, silver-colored side mirrors, quad tailpipes and unique 19-inch alloy wheels, in addition to S5 badges.”

Inside, the 2008 Audi S5 sports a cockpit with a tight feel and a rather complex array of controls on the dash. There are plenty of buttons for radio controls and a generous application of aluminum and chrome trim, too, making the interior a little busy. Edmunds reports, “of course, there's also an impeccably trimmed cabin with finely finished leather and aluminum trim.” Cars.com says the cabin is pleasing as well, with several soft touches in the interior, including options such as "two-tone leather/Alcantara and aluminum, wood or piano-black dashboard trim." Car and Driver calls it a “fabulous place.”

10

2008 Audi S5

Performance

The 2008 Audi S5 has a fantastic V-8 burble and surge; handling is wonderfully direct, though it can get busy at speed.

TheCarConnection.com's experts found the 2008 Audi S5 to be a high-performance coupe that has muscle and a surprisingly gentlemanly demeanor.

The Audi essentials are on full display. The S5 cranks out 354 horsepower from a 4.2-liter V-8 engine that also spins out 325 pound-feet of torque. With either delightful transmission--six-speed manual or automatic--the 2008 Audi S5 thunders to 60 mph in a blink-quick 4.9 seconds and tops out at 155 mph.

The Audi S5 is the more "athletic version" of the A5, according to Edmunds. The S5 has a 4.2-liter direct-injection V-8 "that makes 354 hp and 325 pound-feet of torque." The V-8 provides “eager response,” they say, while Cars.com observes, “The V-8 doesn't care one bit if you decide to wind it out to its 7,000 rpm redline, either — it just emits a turbine-like whir as engine speed builds. It's this smooth-spinning nature that is one of the V-8's most endearing qualities.” The car is quiet, "almost to a fault," notes MyRide.com, stating that the "V-8's sweet rumble is isolated from the cabin." This is a powerful vehicle with "all 354 horses work[ing] as intended." Car and Driver admires its engine note, calling it “alarmingly (and addictively) loud, bellowing its song at a volume no one would expect from a car so well dressed.”

The 2008 S5 comes with either the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Cars.com drove the manual and emerged with some minor quibbles: “The manual transmission's shifter slides smoothly between gears and engages with a slightly mechanical feel, but I found it more difficult than expected to creep along in heavy traffic in this car.” MyRide.com says you can "ram through the manual's six cogs," and even though the "throws could be a bit more precise," the smoothness is "hard to beat." Edmunds reports “the manual transmission's shifter has light, if somewhat long, throws with firm engagement.” No sources researched by TheCarConnection.com tested the automatic. With the manual, the 2008 Audi S5 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, Edmunds says.

“All this V-8-induced fun doesn't come without penalty at the pump,” Cars.com says. “The S5's EPA-estimated gas mileage is 14/21 mpg city/highway, and the coupe is subject to a gas guzzler tax of $1,300 for its fuel-slurping ways.”

The S5 has brilliant handling, with some occasionally harsh ride motions if you encounter potholes in mid-corner. It turns in flat and responds in a snap, even with electronic power steering, which TheCarConnection.com's editors have mixed feelings about. But the 2008 S5's braking is stellar, and Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system is standard. Weight distribution is better in the Audi S5 than in the previous S4, with 57.7 percent of the weight on the front, rather than the former 61.9 percent, according to Car and Driver. This, combined with "40/60 front-to-rear torque split in the standard Quattro drive system," means the Audi S5 has a great reduction in "nose heaviness," making for "balanced handling and a natural steering feel when driven swiftly.” Edmunds reports, “The wheel's effort is a bit light, but its precise action inspires complete confidence when unraveling a favorite twisty road.” Cars.com feels the steering has “too much isolation from the road” and notes “the S5's firm suspension makes for a bumpy ride on some surfaces, but it's not excessively rough. Enthusiasts will appreciate the minimal body roll in tight turns.”

8

2008 Audi S5

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Audi S5 delivers a well-crafted car with just enough room in back to qualify for four-seat status.

Most reviewers agree that the 2008 Audi S5 is a comfortable vehicle with a stunning level of interior quality, though backseat room is skimpy.

In TheCarConnection.com’s experience, the front seats are tight where they need to be, unlike the rear seats, which are merely tight and are completely at a loss when asked to handle adult legs. The trunk is large, though. Car and Driver praises the "highly adjustable seat" and a "tilting-and-telescoping steering wheel" that offer the driver a wider range of options. However, the "beltline is high," causing you to feel "a little buried in the car." MyRide.com also speaks of the comfort of the front seat area, citing it as one of the "selling points" of the vehicle; the "generous amounts of overall passenger room" is sure to capture serious attention. Cars.com says “the driver and front passenger get leather sport seats that have large side bolsters on both the bottom cushion and backrest. The seats proved comfortable for the duration of my week with the car and came in handy during aggressive driving.”

For a coupe, the S5 has a comfortable backseat, states Car and Driver, though "a six-footer will be touching knees and head when sitting behind another six-footer." However, getting in and out of the car is rather easy due to the "conveniently located seatback-mounted switches to move the power seats fore-and-aft." Cars.com says, “There's room for two in the back of the S5. Despite the car's low-slung shape, there's tolerable space for two adults here, and more than enough for kids.” Edmunds agrees, though noting “taller folks will find under-thigh support and legroom somewhat lacking.”

Cars.com feels “the S5's trunk is rather large, at 16.1 cubic feet. That compares to the BMW 3 Series' 11.1-cubic-foot trunk and the Infiniti G37's 7.4-cubic-foot cargo area.” Edmunds again concurs: “The trunk offers 16 cubic feet of cargo capacity (large for a sedan, let alone a coupe), and the rear seat flips down to accommodate more, if need be.”

MyRide.com stresses that it is important to "park with care." The S5’s long doors make it "a bit difficult to enter and exit in tight spaces."

The 2008 Audi S5 comes in a single "well-equipped" trim level, according to Edmunds. The leather is "finely stitched," the fit and finish are "impeccable," and the aluminum trim is real, making for an impressive cabin of obvious quality. Cars.com appreciates how the S5’s “Silver-colored trim encircles the gauges and dash vents, and high-end materials like aluminum, carbon fiber and wood are available in addition to the standard piano black accents.” Car and Driver reports, “Mucho aluminum trim has been smattered about, and we're particularly fond of the A5's take on Audi's ‘teardrop’ gauges.”

9

2008 Audi S5

Safety

The 2008 Audi S5 has a raft of safety features, but testing has yet to take place.

With no crash-test ratings available at the time of this writing, TheCarConnection.com still finds the 2008 Audi S5 packed with safety features that suggest good crash scores in the future.

Edmunds makes note of the standard safety features that come on the Audi S5, which are "Antilock disc brakes (with brake assist), stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags"--a good selection to come standard. Additional features include an optional "backup camera and Audi's Side Assist blind spot warning system," says Cars.com.

The "four-wheel antilock disc brakes [are] bolstered by electronic brake force distribution and a stability control system," keeping you safe on the road. "That's in addition to Quattro all-wheel drive," says MyRide.com, which praises the "sure-footed technology standard on every model." ForbesAutos reports, “The electronic stability program can be deactivated in two stages for enthusiasts who like to push the limits of adhesion during spirited driving.”

Cars.com makes note that there have been no published crash-test ratings for the 2008 Audi S5 by the government or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "but Audis generally do well in both such tests."

The S5’s score for safety will be updated when crash-test results are made available.

10

2008 Audi S5

Features

The 2008 Audi S5 is stuffed with standard gadgets—with more on the options list.

The Audi S5 is outfitted with a long list of standard features and offers more options to coddle any driver.

Edmunds lists the S5’s standard features as “19-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, a panoramic tilt-up sunroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, eight-way power front sport seats, leather upholstery, heated front seats, auto-dimming mirrors and a 10-speaker audio system with CD changer and satellite radio.”

The 2008 Audi S5 comes equipped with a Multi-Media Interface system that controls the climate, the audio, and the optional navigation system, says Edmunds. This can be a bit difficult to master but has an edge over similar systems because it is "mostly intuitive and is easy to use once the initial learning curve is overcome." Cars.com says, “MMI becomes almost second nature with use, but operations like entering an address into the optional navigation system remain tedious even after you've familiarized yourself with the menus.”

“Options include adaptive headlights, Alcantara-trimmed seats, alternative accents (including wood, 'Carbon Atlas' and stainless steel), Bluetooth, keyless ignition, park assist (with a rearview camera), a navigation system with a dedicated iPod interface, and a 505-watt Bang & Olufsen premium audio system,” Edmunds says. Car and Driver loves the "keyless start" and the "fine-sounding Bang and Olufsen stereo," but one thing irked them: the sunroof that "can't slide and only tilts open." MyRide.com agrees with this complaint, noting the sunroof is only "designed to tilt for a bit of fresh air."

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2008 Audi S5 2-Door Coupe Manual

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Being over six foot one, two doors are the cars I choose, awd,manual,v8 whats not to love first road Chicago to Florida, several winding roads were do overs glad I am in no hurry,it just gets better with each... + More »
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Styling 9.0
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