2009 Audi S5: Drivetrain Isn't for Wimps
February 11, 2010
Just about everyone on our staff has driven our 2009 Audi S5 to Vegas. On Monday I joined the club. I've made the drive many times, but the S5 ranks among the most enjoyable cars I've driven there.
First, though, I had to get out of Los Angeles, and as usual, Interstate 10 loaded up in the San Gabriel Valley for no particular reason. In stop-and-go traffic, the six-speed gearbox's fairly heavy clutch and long takeup do get a bit tiresome. Not that I'd expect the clutch to feel any other way. The S5 has a serious engine -- the 4.2-liter V8 -- and a not insignificant amount of torque -- 325 pound-feet. A wimpy flywheel simply wouldn't feel right here.
Besides, once traffic cleared, and I could actually apply some throttle, life got a lot better. Shifting this transmission is quite satisfying once you're actually, you know, driving, and the setup makes for pretty natural heel-and-toe downshifts. I haven't gotten tired of the exhaust note, either.
And there are indeed opportunities to shift even during a long interstate cruise. Our Audi S5 isn't the sort of the car where you put it in 6th gear and let it go for the next 300 miles. As Ed has written, this car is quick, but not overwhelmingly so, and when climbing grades or biding time behind trucks, a downshift to 5th is often a good idea.
As usual, I was in a hurry. Given the S5's limited range (we've only had a couple 300-mile tanks), I knew I'd need to be smooth and a little conservative with my pace to avoid having to stop for fuel on the 280-mile drive to Vegas. This turned out to be no problem, as I made it there with almost a quarter of a tank to spare -- 20.6 mpg (our historical best is 22.3).
More thoughts from the road in tomorrow's entry.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 16,151 miles