2011 Audi S5 Road Test Review

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It's an undisputed fact of life a pretty girl is welcomed just about anywhere she goes. The same can be said for a good-looking car. You want to find your ride out front at the valet stand? Best show up in something that turns heads, otherwise it's liable to be conscribed to the lot. And yeah, when its time to go, you'll find yourself facing a 20-minute wait while the valets draw straws to see which of them will grudgingly retrieve it. Of course, if your ride is an Audi S5, valets don't go retrieve it, they leave it steps away from where you got out of it.

Now, while a pretty girl may be welcomed, she won't be respected if it turns out she has no soul (and yeah, we're talking about you Sarah P.). Possessing substance in equal measure to style, the S5 may well be the most complete package in its segment. Yes, the BMW 3 Series is an absolutely wonderful drive, the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe is magnetically dynamic, and the Mercedes E-Class coupe has great heaping dollops of cachet, but the Audi S5's fluidly organic combination of style, performance and comfort is both compelling and encompassing.

Clothed in the automotive equivalent of a finely tailored suit and powered by a 354-horsepower V8 producing 325 ft-lbs of torque at 3,500 rpm, the S5 emits an aura of grace and authority, revels in a gloriously polished aural signature, and harbours a level of execution wholly in keeping with the promise of its exterior styling. While its six-speed manual transmission's shift action is a bit on the numb side (and frankly this has always been an issue in Audi's cars) clutch take-up is light and positive. Even a manual transmission novice will find the S5 easy to set into motion.

Out on the road, acceleration is strong, the engine winds way more smoothly than any V8 is entitled to, and the gear ratios are nicely spaced-with just the right amount of overlap. You never find yourself struggling to find the right gear in hard charging circumstances. What's truly fantastic though, is the dichotomous fashion in which the V8 is a great party date, but chills demurely when the situation dictates decorum. Trundling around town, the S5 proficiently does domestic duties while displaying nothing less than utter sophistication. In other words y'all, the S5 proves a party girl can be a housewife too.

Of course, we typically come to dance, and when the beat goes funky the S5 loves to get down. The all-wheel drive system (quattro in Audi-speak) is biased to the rear to impart that classic feel-except when the back end can't get a grip. Then, the front end bites to keep the party rolling right. Additionally, Audi's engineers have incorporated lateral torque transfer (side to side in addition to front to back) to help the S5 mitigate understeer, enabling the coupe to turn into corners crisply and predictably.

The steering and braking systems are very generous contributors to the fun, bringing, as they do, a nice amount of control and accuracy to the mix. The suspension system, while endowing the coupe with tremendous agility, also keeps that voluptuous body stable-regardless of the maneuver-enabling all four tires to bite ferociously. And, while the S5's overall demeanor is more GT than roadster, the curvaceous Audi coupe is capable of plastering grin after grin across your face as you rocket from apex to apex relishing the massive waves of thrust generated by the 4.2-litre V8.

Rounding out the experience, the S5's interior is outstanding in its beauty and craftsmanship, as well as highly comfortable. The magnificently sculpted sport seats do an excellent job of providing support-yet they're easy to get in and out of as well. Lavishly upholstered in two-tone leather, they contribute significantly to the appeal of the Audi S5's interior ambiance.

Tasteful aluminum accents announce this is the performance version of Audi's coupe, while the secondary controls grouped around the shift lever quietly remind you no other manufacturer is capable of besting Audi when it comes to interior design and ergonomics. The Bang and Olufsen audio system is rivaled only by the V8's exhaust note for sweetness of sound, and Audi's MultiMedia Interface for communications, navigation and other key functions remains the easiest to use on the market.

If you're getting the impression we like the well-rounded nature of Audi's S5, you're very astute. Pricing starts at $59,900, but comprehensively equipped, you'll be looking at more like $65,000.

Hey, the best things in life might be free, but they ain't never cheap.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Audi, 2011, S5, $75,000 - $99,999,

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