- Powerful engine
- Gorgeous styling
- All-wheel-drive traction
- Outstanding all-around performance
- Cramped back seat
- High price tag
- Small trunk opening
- Limited rearward visibility in coupe
The 2017 Audi S5 Coupe and S5 Cabriolet are among the best-looking (and best-performing) luxury coupes on the market.
As the sportier companion to Audi's A5 coupe and convertible, the S5 is closely related to the outgoing generation (last year's version) of the S4 sport sedan.
For 2017, the Audi S5 lineup continues unchanged; a completely redesigned model is due next year. Compared to the A5, the S5 ramps up everything but the interior packaging and fundamental layout—adding stronger performance, sharper looks, and more exclusivity and tech features. Of course, the price is higher, too.
The outgoing S5 gets an 8.0 out of 10 on our overall scale, which reflects our high opinions of its performance and features. Fuel economy takes a hit (expected for a sports coupe) and the styling is beginning to look aged to us. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The look of the Audi S5 is still attractive, but it's no longer fresh. For the past six years or so, the A5 and S5 family has 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.
Both sporty S5 variants are offered in coupe and Cabriolet (convertible) form. 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 for both of these models, although the steering is a bit too far on the numb and artificially weighted side. An Audi Drive Select system lets the driver select modes that include individual settings for the steering, transmission, and throttle (plus those of the available adaptive damping suspension).
The S5 especially manages to straddle two worlds, of entirely comfort-oriented models and those aimed for higher-performance pegs. From the driver's seat it's a versatile, spirited touring car—one that's especially nimble and capable. The quattro all-wheel-drive system aids this, starting with a power split that sends 60 percent of the power split to the rear wheels—which helps with handling yet allows all-weather ability. Brakes are strong, and the 3.0T engine sounds great.
This year's S5 Coupe was 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, was rated at 18/26/21 mpg.
Comfort, safety, and features
The S5 coupe and convertible are like many two-door coupe or convertible models this 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. Front seats are firm and supportive, and large enough for a wide range of body types. In back, cushions are too short and flat—a common complaint in this type of model, too. 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).
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.
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).
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.