2011 Audi S5 Review – A lot more than just a pretty face

Audi Expert Reviews

2011 Audi S5
By Twain Mein


  • Timeless styling. This is a beautiful car that will age well
  • Steering and road feel
  • Rear wheel bias gives rear wheel drive feel with all wheel drive safety
  • Ride quality


  • Rear seat room is tighter than Houdini’s escape coffin
  • You pay to play at the gas pump
  • Sunroof doesn’t slide back

The Audi S5 is the high performance version of the A5. It features 354hp vs. the A5’s 211, a whopping 67% increase. With this added horsepower, 0-60 times drop from over 6.5 to just under 5 seconds. This performance comes at a price premium, boosting base MSRP from $36.9k to $53.1k while dropping combined mileage (for the manual transmission variants) from 24 to 17mpg.

The model we tested had the upscale “Prestige Package”. The Prestige package adds the Multimedia Interface (MMI), driver seat memory, and parking assist with rearview camera. This car also had several additional options including the “Sprint Blue Pearl Effect” paint ($475), Navigation ($2,550), Sports Rear Differential ($1,100), and the 505-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system ($850). These options, coupled with the base price of $53,100, Gas Guzzler tax and destination charge, brought the total to $60,250.

2011 Audi S5

Introduced in 2008, after 3 years, the A5/S5 is still drop-dead gorgeous. Though somewhat controversial, the well integrated massive grill and trademark look for Audi, has perhaps become the most pleasingly executed of the entire Audi model line. The LED running lights add a distinctive eye brow to the front end while the muscular flanks look purposeful and are well proportioned. The overall shape is truly elegant yet aggressive at the same time. We found only one real drawback to the design; because there are no channels in the roof, accumulated rain water can pour down into the driver’s seat when opening the door. A small price for beauty.

Driving Impressions
With its all wheel drive transmitting feedback from the front wheels to the steering wheel, there is excellent steering feedback. Additionally, Audi has even engineered feedback into the seat itself; you feel muted bumps and road texture through it. As a result, the S5 has remarkably tactile road feel, far more communicative than the rear wheel drive BMW 3-series, from the seat to the steering wheel. At the same time, the adaptive suspension dials out body roll while still providing a firm though not harsh ride, truly miraculous considering the micro-sidewall 35-series tires.

Additionally, Drive Select allows the driver to fiddle with adaptive suspension, dynamic steering, and transmission shift points. There are 3 default settings (Comfort, Normal, and Dynamic) though these settings can be customized for 27 different permutations. We stuck with the default settings and found that dynamic mode provided the most dramatic differences in ride quality and steering feel.

2011 Audi S5

The fit and finish of the S5 was, like most Audis, outstanding. The leather interior smelled fantastic, and the stitching and dash materials reeked of high quality. Panel tolerances were very small and the car felt exceptionally solid. The white leather seats may be prone to attracting dirt but they are beautiful thrones to behold.


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  • Larry says:

    High praise on the steering if it’s really better feel than the 3 series bmw.

    I drove a base A5 however thought the seats to be less comfortable than my A3! Maybe the S is better.

    • Derek says:

      I drove the S5 on the track at Laguna Seca and the steering is good, really good. It had the right amount of turn-in response, feedback, and weight. I would have to do a side-by-side comparison of the S5 and 335is before making a judgment call as to which is better.

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