- Powerful engine
- Gorgeous styling
- All-wheel-drive traction
- Cramped back seat
- High price tag
- Small trunk opening
The 2016 Audi S5 Coupe and S5 Cabriolet are among the best-looking (and best-performing) luxury coupes on the market.
The Audi S5 is the spicy, performance-oriented companion to Audi's A5 coupe and convertible. It's also closely related to the S4 sport sedan.
Compared to the A5, the S5 offers stronger performance, sharper looks, and more exclusivity and tech features.
The look of the Audi S5 is by no means fresh. For the past five years or more, it's been a design benchmark for luxury coupes, so it's no surprise that many of its cues and themes have appeared in newer models. That's however also a testament to how well the S5's design works. It has classic rear-wheel-drive luxury-coupe proportions (even though it's all-wheel drive), and the flowing, sculpted design is brought to its best (but not over the top) with accent trim, some blacked-out details, and special available Black Optic 21-inch wheels.
Inside, the switchgear can seem a bit excessive or cluttered, yet all of the materials and finishes still live and breathe quality, sportiness, and performance.
For both the coupe and convertible, the standard engine on the S5 is the 3.0T supercharged V-6, rated at 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration is just 4.9 seconds to 60 mph for the S5 Coupe, and 5.1 seconds for the S5 Cabriolet. Handling is excellent, although the steering is a bit too far on the numb and artificially weighted side. An optional Audi Drive Select system lets the driver select modes that include individual settings for the steering, transmission, and throttle (as well as those of the available adaptive damping suspension).
In nearly every other respect, the S5 feels like a versatile, spirited touring car from the driver's seat—and one that's particularly nimble and capable. Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system aids this, biasing the front-rear power split at 40/60 percent—which affords some all-weather ability—and braking performance is very good. The 3.0T engine doesn't require revving to tap into its torque, but sounds great when you do so.
The S5 coupe and convertible are like many two-door models its size: super-comfortable, provided you're in the front seat, yet sorely compromised in back. To look on the bright side, though, at least you'll have two usable seats in back if you're in a pinch. Comfort is excellent in the front seats of the S5 Coupe/Cabriolet; they're firm and supportive, and large enough for a wide range of body types. The rear seats, on the other hand, are too short in the legs for adults. Even in the S5 Coupe, the rear seats fold flat, and you'll find a locking glove box and console, as well as one-liter bottle holders in the doors (yes, in a German car).
Occupant-safety information for the S5—and the whole A5 lineup—is missing if you're looking for official crash-test ratings. Yet the S5's safety-feature set includes knee airbags; active pop-up roll bars in the Cabriolet; and a rear-view camera with parking sensors. From the driver's seat, visibility rearward is on the poor side due to the chunky C-pillars that look so good on the outside (although if you keep the well-insulated soft top down on the convertible, all is well).
While the S5's option list is missing some of the accident-avoidance and active-safety wizardry that's available in more recently updated models, all of the usual luxury suspects on board, including dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, satellite radio, and HD Radio. Noteworthy options include Audi dynamic steering, adaptive cruise control, and an excellent Bang & Olfusen sound system.
Audi's MMI infotainment interface is one of the best in terms of menu structure and general responsiveness, and you can opt for the Audi Connect system that brings wi-fi connectivity for up to eight devices plus Google Earth mapping and info access.
The S5 Coupe is rated by the EPA at 18 mpg city, 28 highway, 21 combined with the automatic, 17/26/20 mpg with the manual. The S5 Cabriolet, which is only available with the automatic, is rated at 18/26/21 mpg.