- Rumbling V-8 character
- All-wheel-drive traction
- Gorgeous styling
- Kids-only rear seats
- Lofty price tag
- Tight trunk
The 2009 Audi S5 looks like no other and performs as well as its top rivals—but you will pay for the privilege.
A stunning car, the 2009 S5 is a hotted-up V-8 version of the A5 two-door introduced two years ago. It throbs with muscle car power and, especially from the rear, bears more than a passing resemblance to the coming 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, with great proportions, curves, and crests to its sheetmetal.
The S5 is powered by a 354-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 engine that spins out a peak 325 pound-feet of torque. Rear-biased Quattro all-wheel drive helps the wheels get traction no matter what the surface, and helps neutralize handling in spirited driving. With either transmission—six-speed manual or automatic, both a joy to drive—the Audi S5 gets to 60 mph in a mere 4.9 seconds and tops out at 155 mph. It's the only car in its class to offer all-wheel drive with a manual transmission.
The optional Drive Select package enables drivers to tune suspension and steering response. The S5 has brilliant handling, with some occasionally harsh ride motions when you run into—well, run over—rough surfaces in mid-corner. Even with electronic power steering, it turns in flat and responds in a snap, though the feel is a little light. The 2009 S5's braking is stellar.
The cockpit of the Audi S5 sports a tight feel, paired with a rather complex, busy array of controls on the dash. Audio system control buttons are numerous; the designers have opted for lots of shiny aluminum and chrome trim, so it's not a restful place to meditate. The front seats cradle you in comfort, but the rear seats are merely tight and totally unable to accommodate adult legs. Thanks to the thick pillars and low roofline, visibility out the back while driving is pretty dismal. On the plus side, the trunk is large.
The 2009 Audi S8 doesn’t give up any conveniences in the name of high performance; expect everything that you would in a full-fledged luxury coupe, including power and heated everything, along with features like adaptive headlamps. TheCarConnection.com’s editors, some of whom are audiophiles, are very fond of the available Bang & Olufsen sound system.