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

Audi Expert Reviews

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
Unfortunately, just prior to this test, I ruptured a disc in my back. So the aggressively bolstered and well-upholstered seats, while likely great for track use, were a bit firm and I had to try and dial in a position that put me low to the floor while upright, seat pushed way back.

Audi’s MMI (multimedia interface), though complex, is actually fairly intuitive, reminiscent of the iPhone/iPod interface. Much like a smartphone, you need to move your eyes off of the road ahead to see and interact with the multiple menus.

2011 Audi S5 2011 Audi S5 back seat not suitable for full-size people Audi S5 split fold-down rear seats

Speaking of iPods and iPhones, the glove box features a neat “net” that will hold your i-Device and adapters to plug it in to the MMI system. This said, if you want to use the nav function of your iphone, you’ll be out of luck as the device is too far away to control by hand.

Looking up, the S5 features a massive glass sunroof that gives an exceptionally airy feel. Unfortunately, the sunroof isn’t retractable, though it does tilt.

Moving to the rear, rear seat leg room is fairly limited though head and toe room was surprisingly spacious. Thankfully the S5 rear seats fold down to pass through large objects, like a bike, from the spacious trunk. They even include a ballistic quality ski bag, further reminding you of the versatility of the all wheel drive capability.

2011 Audi S5

Performance and Handling
Audi’s adaptive suspension is amazing. Using electronics and hydraulics, it magically dials out body roll. Yet it still provides incredible dampening over bumps. Notably, on the Bay Area roads around here, there are some dramatic undulations. I found that the Audi handled these undulations better in the Dynamic mode versus the Comfort mode. In Comfort mode, the Audi felt like it was pogo-ing over these bumps. In Dynamic mode, the car was firmly planted. The V-8 was delightful with plenty of torque at any speed to accelerate briskly with an exhaust note that subtlety builds. It is a blast to drive fast and on curvy roads. The one word that captures the S5 best is balance; while very powerful with 354 hp, the engine doesn’t seem to overpower the chassis. Conversely, the chassis provides excellent handling with a refined and quiet ride that instantly transforms from luxurious cruiser to aggressive canyon carver. This car is a joy to drive under any circumstance.

At over $60,000. the S5 is a serious financial commitment. However it offers a driving experience that is truly rewarding from commuting to track day. It is remarkable how this car can be so competent across the range of use cases—and will likely make most drivers better drivers. And while the rear seat room cuts down on people-hauling, the spacious trunk and foldable rear seat dial back in a dose of practicality. The only real downside is the fuel economy; at 14mpg city and gas over $4/gallon, it does give some pause for thought.

2011 Audi S5

More Than Just a Pretty Face
This is a great looking grand touring coupe that you’ll never get tired of looking at. Behind the wheel, you’ll be coddled in luxury while entertained and delighted with performance driving. If you don’t have kids or a need to haul more than one person, it’s an indulgent machine that you’ll relish driving at every opportunity.

RATING 5.0 5.5 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.0 4.8/A

2011 Audi S5 Photo Gallery

2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet

More Audi A5 / S5 Expert Reviews

AudiThe official Audi of America website – www.audiusa.com


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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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