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2009 Audi S5 Long Term Road Test

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2009 Audi S5: Expensive Car, Cheap Floormats

April 12, 2010

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Yes, I drove this lovely coupe all weekend and I'll have to talk about are the floormats. Well, after getting in and out of the thing for two days with that nasty tear staring me in the face that's all I remembered.

Upon closer inspection I realized that the tear was positioned right where your heel rests when working the clutch. Stands to reason this area would get a little extra wear which is why good mats have a little extra material there to compensate. Clearly these didn't and they just tore right through. Kind of disappointing for a $62K luxury coupe even if it does have over 20,000 miles on it.

To its credit, the rest of the car is rock solid. There's not a single rattle in it and everything in the driveline feels as sharp as it did the day we got it. A great overall piece that could use a minor upgrade in the textile department.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 20.189 miles

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2009 Audi S5: Stalk Cruise Control is Easy

March 29, 2010

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I normally don't use cruise control: it makes me lose interest in my driving and possibly sleepy. But on last week's trip to Vegas for the CTIA Wireless conference, I didn't want to run afoul of The Law, so I used it quite a bit.

There has been a trend lately towards steering wheel pad mounted cruise switches. That's because they're visible so intial use is very intuitive: you just look at the switches and press them. But you do have to look at them to operate.

Our long-term 2009 Audi S5's cruise control switches, however, are stalk mounted and incredibly easy to use. Press the switch on the end of the stalk to set speed, tap up/down to adjust set speed by 1 mph pitch, pull towards you to resume, away to cancel, and away past the detent to turn off.

After using 1 or 2 times, you can use the cruise control with blind operation: no looking required, unlike the steering wheel pad switches.

And this way the steering wheel pad and spokes leave room for the audio and other functions, as well as a cleaner appearance.

Which cruise setup do you prefer?

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 19,800 miles

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2009 Audi S5: Upside Down and Backwards

February 18, 2010

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With regards to ergonomics, two things about the Audi S5 are back a**wards -- the power door lock buttons and the sunroof shade. As I noted with other Audi vehicles, the power door lock buttons on the doors are upside down, the opposite of what convention (and logic) dictate. Normally "down" equals lock and "up" equals unlock. Heck, it's been that way since the old manual door locks...you know, the one's you'd try to pull up with a bent coat hanger -- slipped through the weatherstrip -- when you locked the keys in the car. And yes, that's a photo of another S5's door panel but apart from the two-tone trim, it's the same.

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2009 Audi S5: The Class of the Strip

February 15, 2010

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Here's the long-awaited Part 2 entry about my Vegas road trip in our long-term 2009 Audi S5. Like our long-term Dodge Challenger R/T, the S5 feels great on the open road. As you'd hope, though, for a car that costs $25,000 more ($61,915 vs. $36,310), the Audi feels that much more refined -- from the way its cabin materials look and feel, to the way everything fits together and operates.

I was surprised to find the ride quality in the S5 exactly to my liking. It has bigger wheels and tires (255/35ZR19 96Y) than our long-term A4 Avant, yet it doesn't share that car's busy, harsh ride over grooved freeway slabs. (Yes, yes, maybe it's the tire model -- Dunlop SP Sport Maxx on the S5 versus B'stone Potenza RE050A on our A4.) Whatever the case, the S5 has a comfortably firm ride and its suspension quickly and unobtrusively absorbs bumps and ruts.

The tires were a little noisy for my taste on I-15, but the 19-inch wheels are so attractive, I'd probably just put up with that if this was my car.

The seats in the S5 fit me perfectly and were never anything other than comfortable and supportive for the 5-hour blocks behind the wheel.

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2009 Audi S5: Does Riswick Fit?

February 02, 2010

Riswick in the back of the S5

Nope, not especially. Even though I sit relatively close to the wheel in the S5, I had to flip the seat forward to cram my legs in place. I also have to lean forward, crane my head to the side or a bit of both (picture) for my noggin to fit. So a 6-foot-3 person can technically sit behind themselves, but they wouldn't want to.

Still, it's far better than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe (especially headroom), considerably better than the Camaro (including seat comfort), about even with the 135i and much worse than the Dodge Challenger. So on the Riswickmeter of backseat space, the S5 can fit 0.84 Riswicks.

James Riswick, Stuffed into the back of the S5 @ 15,893 miles

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2009 Audi S5: The Passenger

January 29, 2010

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These blogs usually find us spending our words telling you what it's like to drive our long-term cars. Whether it be doing burnouts, parallel parking or pushing buttons, everything is usually told to you from the driver's point of view.

Well, I'm a rebel.

Late last week I found myself strapped into the right side of our S5 for three hours. Three hours is nothing for me when I'm behind the wheel but it's usually something I don't look forward to as a passenger; not so with the Audi. Don't worry, I'm not going to compare it to an S-Class, but I was never uncomfortable. The size and shape of the seat fit me perfectly - so much so I don't think I moved much at all in the three hours I was in transport. Too much sun can bake the inside of the car on a long trip, but with the narrow side windows and the nicely raked windshield, the sun's heat was never an issue. And with the addition of that giant glass roof and its semi-transparent shade, even the all-black interior never felt the least bit claustrophobic.

My only gripe was the silver quattro badge on the dashboard that happened to be right in front of me. In such a clean and well executed interior it really was the only gaffe.

I certainly wouldn't mind riding in this car again.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor

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2009 Audi S5: The Sun is Shining and I Got the S5

January 27, 2010

Audi S5 at Bergamot JR

The Red Sea parted, the gods smiled and Riswick got the Audi S5 for the first time. Cue the bells.

Though I've driven the S5 before, it is such a distinct pleasure to drive home even if my journey consisted of a mere 9.2 miles through the city. The S5 has all the ingredients of a car I would consider for myself. It's a coupe. It's absolutely stunning. It's German. Its V8 is robust yet refined. Its ride strikes that sophisticated balance of engaged firmness and comfort. The driving position is superb. I love the shifter, both in its design and action. It has a big trunk. It has a usable (enough) back seat. The interior is beautifully made. Did I mention it's absolutely stunning?

I know I'm gushing, but I don't get in the S5 much and figure I should heap whatever praise upon it while I can. Sometimes you just have to sit back, put aside whatever nitpicks you may have and revel in a car's greatness.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 15,572 miles

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2009 Audi S5: Seats Haven't Deteriorated a Bit

January 19, 2010

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Not that 15,000 miles of hard use is enough to make a set of expensive seats crumble, but come on, these seats look brand new. More importantly, they feel brand new.

I noted this mostly because the seats are one of the many things that make this car feel special every time you drive it. It's the most noticeable touch point a driver has apart from the steering wheel yet far too many luxury cars don't get it right.

I took a friend home over the weekend and the first thing he said after getting in was, "Wow, these seats are awesome."

Are they the best seats I've ever sat in? No, but they're close and that's what you would expect in a car of this caliber.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 15,256 miles

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2009 Audi S5: So Red, So Soothing

January 07, 2010

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For my friend's birthday last night, after dinner, I took her for a spin in our 2009 Audi S5. In lieu of a gift, heh. She's a former owner of an Audi A4, currently leases a Mercedes C300 and is now looking to purchase a new car after her lease is up. BMW? Another Audi? In any case, I knew she'd get a kick out of the S5 and she did, going on and on about how sexy it looks and how she fell in love with one that she saw in white. She liked how smoothly it shifted; a big deal since she usually hates being the passenger in "herky-jerky" manual-shift cars.

But the thing that really made her seriously consider getting an Audi again was the red interior lights. "It's so soothing. I miss that," she said wistfully, admiring the Audi's and noting that her C300 has white lights. I agreed. The red is definitely easier on the eyes at night. What do you think?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 14,215 miles

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2009 Audi S5: Mystery Slots

November 11, 2009

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A few of our readers had a question about the S5 and I was curious myself.

What are those slots just to the right of the gearshift lever?
They look like HVAC register vents or perhaps a microphone for the Bluetooth/navi interactive voice response.

I checked with the Audi guy and it turns out they are just fancy...coin holders.

Honestly, I was a little disappointed.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 12,250 miles

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2009 Audi S5: Fan Club

October 22, 2009

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I have mixed feelings about the design of the S5's HVAC controls, as they relate to modulating fan intensity. On one hand, the layout seems to involve an unnecessary step. Instead of just twisting a knob to control how hard the fan blows, you have to press a button; lift your gaze to a screen that shows a digital image of the control knob; and then twist the physical knob to modulate the fan speed, guided by the digital image that's presented. Kind of tedious and distracting, especially when you consider that there's a time-tested, simpler approach.

On the other hand, just look at the digital image. Cool, huh? Makes me feel like I'm living in sci-fi movie with impeccable art direction. And obviously, another plus is that you get a cleaner-looking center stack. Beauty has its cost, I suppose.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 10,650 miles

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2009 Audi S5: The Doors

October 19, 2009

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The S5 got so many awe-struck looks this weekend, I was constantly checking the passenger seat to see if Nicole Kidman or some other A-lister had snuck in to hitch a ride. The car's sheet metal is pretty stunning, but those admiring onlookers would likely have been just as impressed with its cabin. It looks clean and elegant without being too ostentatious, and gets most of the details just right when it comes to functionality.

Take, for example, the doors. They work well from an ergonomic standpoint -- the placement of the handles and the controls is ideal. They look great -- sleek and contemporary. And they close with a very satisfying thud. What do you think of your car's doors?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 10,617 miles

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2009 Audi S5: Nighttime Drive In Los Angeles

October 02, 2009

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Nighttime is my favorite time to drive in Los Angeles. It's hard to pin down, but there's a certain vibe that only exists when the sun has gone down. The overcast sky is aglow from the city lights, the air is still and, if you're on the west side of town, there's a bit of moisture to it as well. It's a relaxing calm after your work day is done.

It's also a time when that notorious LA traffic has slimmed. It never goes away -- this is LA, after all -- but this actually plays into the drive. The roads change from congested slog fests to roads with opportunities. Work the throttle. Make a few lane changes. If you've got the right car, you're the shark working your way confidently through minnows.

The Audi S5 is one of those cars. I had it a couple nights ago. After an evening with friends, it was time to go home. But after about 10 minutes of driving, a little voice in my head said, "Dude, you've got an S5." So I indulged the voice, changed directions and headed west to pick up Pacific Coast Highway. From here I went north, winding my way along this famous road and eventually turned right to head up Topanga Canyon Blvd that takes you twisting through the hills of the Santa Monica mountain range.

The S5 was in its element on this drive, the red cabin illumination giving off a classy vibe, the adaptive xenon headlights throwing out plenty of light, the shifter moving smoothly from gate to gate and the eager V8 strumming out its refined soundtrack. Later, on my return leg, I parked the S5 on the side of the PCH and listened to the ocean's waves crashing ashore.

Los Angeles' omnipresent traffic will burn you out, so sometimes you need to make a drive like this -- and have a car like the S5 -- to remind you that being behind the wheel is still fun.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2009 Audi S5: Child Safety Seats Fitment Issues

September 18, 2009

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We've already had a couple posts about our long-term S5's rear seats. Dan commented about the easy-to-use latch and nifty power switch for moving the seat forward, and Caroline said she liked the amount of storage space provided. But I'm here to tell you that the S5's backseat is no good in at least one area -- fitment of a child safety seat.

If you have a baby or toddler to cart around (and what S5 owner doesn't, right?), the S5's rear seat isn't very accommodating for a safety seat. The biggest issue is that the S5's rear head restraints can't be removed. This makes it impossible to position a forward-facing child safety seat so that it's properly flush with the seatback.

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2009 Audi S5: Two Little Things

September 14, 2009

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Audi's new running lights on the S5 and R8 are sure tough looking but I think they add an extra measure of safety the dim DRLs on other cars can't.

This weekend I was cruising the streets of Lakewood, California (read tree lined suburbia) and on more than one occasion I saw a driver start to pull out in front of me then do a double take and stop. If it were just 23 year old dudes I'd say it was b/c they were impressed by the S5 and wanted a closer look - but it was a dad in a minivan, grandmother in an Intrepid and a teen-age girl in a Geo Storm. I'm thinking the bright running lights helped to avoid an accident - can't say for sure but that's what I think.

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2009 Audi S5: I Call Backseat!

August 24, 2009

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I swear, I had already planned to do a post about our 2009 Audi S5's backseat before I saw Riswick's painstakingly detailed post of the 750i. In any case, here's yet another post today about a long-termer's backseat.

Well, the Audi's rear seats should be noted for their spaciousness and especially all the places you can store stuff. Critical, at least to me, for long road trips. Most importantly, TWO cupholders per person; for the iced grande soy latte you're sipping on now that you put in the center armrest, and the bottled water you're saving for later that you seat in the low cupholder by the door (just remember it when you're bolting out of the car for a bathroom stop).

The fold-down center armrest opens to reveal a small compartment, which seems too shallow to store anything substantial but could probably contain your iPod, cell, wallet and whatnot. And there's a netted pouch located behind the front seats for placing reading material if you're not the type to get carsick reading while in a moving vehicle.

Suffice it to say, although I wouldn't want to sit in the back while the driver is carving some canyons, erp!, I wouldn't mind taking a 5-hour-plus road trip whilst lounging in the rear. Not only for the comfortable seats, spaciousness and storage, but because I know I wouldn't be in danger of ever having to be wedged in the middle.

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2009 Audi S5: Now Seating

August 19, 2009

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The S5's seats look a bit chilly and futuristic -- I think of Darth Vader every time I lay eyes on them. But they're a lot friendlier than they look. Lumbar support is exceptional, and the side bolstering cradles without ever being overwhelming. Leaning into these babies like leaning into a supportive little hug. Kinda makes my day.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 7,589 miles

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2009 Audi S5: Put My Start Button on the Dash

August 04, 2009

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Keyless ignitions are fine, but their start buttons should always be on the dash. Why? Because the buttons in most luxury-brand cars are real metal, and when that button is fully exposed on the console and your car is sitting in the sun, said button gets hot, hot, hot. Yes, even if the sunroof's shade is closed. I almost didn't want to start our 2009 Audi S5.

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2009 Audi S5: Warning - Cupholders

July 27, 2009

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Anyone know what this means and why it's on the cupholders? It's faint but when you're sitting on the passenger side, you can't miss it.

I'm taking it to mean "Refer to owner's manual." So I did just in case there's some unknown scary deal with the cupholders I need to be aware of.

But nope, the only warning to be found on page 87 of the owner's manual was, "Spilled hot liquid can cause an accident and personal injury. Never carry any beverage containers with hot liquids... Use only soft cups in cupholder. Hard cups and glasses can cause injury in an accident. Never use the cupholder or adapter as an ashtray -- risk of fire."

Wow. Is this because of that time that lady sued McDonalds because she spilled her Micky D's hot coffee on herself?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 5,980 miles

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2009 Audi S5: The Details Make a Difference

July 13, 2009

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I stole this one from Inside Line Lead Senior Editor Ed Hellwig. Back in January 2008 he did a post about this same detail on our then long-term Audi Q7.

Ed wrote: "Whenever I drive our Q7, this little detail always impresses me. When it's fully warmed up, the temperature gauge reads dead on center. Not a little bit above or slightly below, but right on the middle hash mark. It's doesn't really give you any more information than a typical gauge, but it tells you something about the engineers who designed it...They could have let the needle rest anywhere, but it looks precise sitting there right on the mark so they took a little extra time to make it line up. A nice touch."

I think about Ed's insightful post everytime I drive an Audi. I find myself checking the car's temp gauge to see where the needle rests. Here's a shot of our S5's temp gauge and as you can see the needle is right on the mark.

Obviously this isn't a big deal, but it is nice detail that Audi should get credit for.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2009 Audi S5: Doesn't Like Heel and Toe Downshifts

July 09, 2009

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As you can see, Audi has gotten over its fear of unintended acceleration, or whatever that farce was that almost torpedoed the company in the U.S. In this case, the brake pedal is placed nice and tight with the throttle for easy heel-toe downshifts. There's still one small problem though.

That throttle is a little on the lazy side. Even when you dial up the sensitivity with the Drive Select system, the gas pedal requires a fairly substantial stab to get the ol' tachomter swinging. It's not the end of the world, but it makes the S5 feel that much more like the big GT that it is rather than a true sport coupe. I'm guessing it will only bother about .05% of the S5-buying population, so I don't think Audi has much to worry about here.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 5,267 miles

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2009 Audi S5: The Sounds of Silence

July 07, 2009

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Audi knows a thing or two about sound deadening. At highway speeds the cockpit of our 2009 Audi S5 is nearly silent. Aside from the V8 purr pervading its cabin above 4,000 rpm the driver is audibly isolated from the outside world. This is luxury.

This is also an S5. So Audi luxury wasn't all we had in mind when we ordered it. We wanted performance and we opted for the control of its 6-speed manual. An excellent choice if we drove windows down, V8 in our ears and wind in our hair 24-7. But the reality is that we don't. And based on our reality, we should have considered the automatic.

S5's quiet cabin is a disadvantage when it comes to the third pedal. Engine noise is discreet at lower rpm. Turn the radio on and its nonexistent. This doesn't allow for the use of engine note to anticipate clutch engagement. An issue further complicated by light clutch pedal uptake and an abrupt engagement point. We encountered similar driveability characteristics from our long-term G35 Sport. But that doesn't make it right.

Get the automatic.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 5,500 miles

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2009 Audi S5: A Pretty Great Escape

June 11, 2009

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My daughters rocked their year-end report cards, bringing home straight A's. So we loaded them into the 2009 Audi S5 and headed for their favorite restaurant. (That's them running for the door just above the mirror.)

They were able to make their rapid exit from the backseat of the 2-door S5 because they had access to easy-to-use front seat controls to let themselves out. The above rocker switch powers the seat fore and aft, and the lever releases the seatback.

My wife asked the girls if we should this car to Oregon. "No," came the reply, "There isn't quite enough room." Oh, they fit OK, but a trip to Oregon requires space for a lot of stuff, and they'd prefer a large window to look out of. They like it OK around town, though.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 3,837 miles

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2009 Audi S5: Breaking It In On the Way to Denver

May 25, 2009

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There are several reasons why I decided to drive from L.A. to Colorado for a friend's wedding in our new Audi S5 long-termer. With only a few hundred miles on the clock, it needed a little more break-in before we could track test it. It was also May, so the weather would be pleasant the whole way through. And if you're ever seen the Glenwood Canyon section of I-70 in the spring you know it's worth the drive for the scenery alone. Oh, and I kind of forgot to book a plane ticket.

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