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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
power you can appreciate every time you accelerate from a stoplight
for all its style and speed, this car is not really happy on a racetrack
Car and Driver
the only car in the class to offer all-wheel drive combined with a six-speed manual transmission
Kelley Blue Book
a sharp-handling coupe, with nicely controlled body roll and tenacious AWD traction
In tests of the 2010 Audi S5, TheCarConnection.com's experts find a high-performance hardtop coupe and soft-top convertible that is plenty quick in either guise.
The Audi essentials are on full display: The S5 coupe cranks out 354 horsepower from a 4.2-liter V-8 engine that also spins out 325 pound-feet of torque. The S5 Cabriolet, meanwhile, gets a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 that puts out the same amount of torque, but loses 21 horsepower to the V-8. With either delightful transmission-six-speed manual or automatic-the 2010 Audi S5 routes that power to all four wheels, thundering to 60 mph in a blink-quick 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. The Audi S5 Cabriolet isn't too far behind, crossing the 60-mph threshold in just 5.6 seconds-and it offers Audi's new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to boot.
Edmunds points out that at Audi, "an 'S' instead of an 'A' before a model's number indicates the performance version." 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." 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." Differing opinions feel the engine is too 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, and "all 354 horses work as intended."
The 2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet gets a lower-displacement, but nearly as powerful, supercharged V-6 that fares very well with reviewers. Cars.com points out that they don't know "how much of that power will be missed by convertible drivers," since these consumers tend not to be as performance-oriented anyway. Regardless, Car and Driver says that the Audi S5 Cabriolet offers "nearly identical performance and 20 percent better overall fuel economy" compared to its coupe sibling.
Unique in its class, the 2010 Audi S5 coupe comes with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, both with standard all-wheel drive (quattro). The 2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet is, according to Popular Mechanics, available exclusively with "Audi's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (S Tronic)" and the same all-wheel-drive system, with the addition of "torque vectoring" that shifts power from side to side as well as front to back. Cars.com drives the manual and emerges 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." They do state, "Drive the S5 aggressively, though, and smooth shifts become easier." This is a car for enthusiasts. 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 2010 Audi S5 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, Edmunds observes. Audi claims the automatic S5 will hit 60 in 5.1 seconds, and Kelley Blue Book asserts "our seat-of-the pants evaluation gives us no reason to doubt this." As for the seven-speed dual-clutch on the Cabriolet, Car and Driver warns that it "makes take-off sluggish" and "responds painfully slowly to paddle requests"-exactly the opposite impression of the editors at TheCarConnection.com, who like the dual-clutch transmission's instantaneous responses.
"All this V-8-induced fun doesn't come without penalty at the pump," Cars.com says. The EPA lists the 2010 Audi S5 automatic at 16/24 mpg and the manual at 14/22 mpg. The 2010 Audi S5 requires premium fuel. "Using Audi's gear suggestion display, it's possible to shift at very low rpm to conserve fuel, but the EPA combined rating of 16 miles per gallon is the price you pay for having such reserves of power," reports Kelley Blue Book. Fortunately, the V-6 that rests under the Cabriolet's hood is significantly thriftier, returning an EPA-estimated 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
New for 2010 is the Audi Drive Select Package, which includes adaptive suspension dampers and dynamic steering. With or without the system, the S5 coupe and cabriolet turn in flat and respond in a snap, even with electronic power steering, which elicits mixed feelings in TheCarConnection.com's editors. 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." On the more comfortable Cabriolet, Car and Driver notes that the Audi "rides well but never feels floaty." The 2010 S5's braking is stellar. Kelley Blue Book calls the brakes "excellent and powerful." But while weight distribution is better in the Audi S5 than in the previous S4, with 56.9 percent of the mass on the front, rather than the previous 61.9 percent, according to Car and Driver, it's still hindered by heft. As Edmunds states, "Beefy curb weight and artificial steering feel hamper the car's sporting potential."
The 2010 Audi S5 / Cabriolet is a powerful sports car in either guise, but it could use less weight on its nose for better handling.