What's New for 2013
The 2013 Audi S5 coupe now is powered by a supercharged V6 instead of a normally aspirated V8. There's a freshened look for all S5 models, plus a few minor revisions to the interior. Also a mobile WiFi feature has been introduced.
The Audi S5 has been one of the most elegant cars on the road, a shape that inspires you every time you see it. Thankfully, a freshened look for 2013 with restyled headlights and a reshaped front fascia hasn't altered the car's underlying seductive appeal. Sadly, the throaty burble of the S5 coupe's former V8 has disappeared, and now the same supercharged V6 that has always powered the S5 convertible is now used across the S5 model line. Thanks to comparable power and better fuel efficiency, the V6 will keep people from missing the extra two cylinders.
Underneath the sleek sheet metal, most of the 2013 Audi S5's hardware remains the same, and that's just fine by us. An artful blend of luxurious comfort and pulse-quickening athleticism, the S5 suits nearly any occasion. For the rare driver seeking a blast of more adrenaline from the S5 package, the high-performance RS 5 version of the coupe debuts this year. (The RS 5 is covered in a separate review.)
Yes, it's fair to say we're fans of the S5, and we place it favorably among some very impressive competitors. We would suggest cross-shopping the Audi with the BMW 335i and Mercedes C350 coupe, as there's really no way to lose among any of these choices.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Audi S5 is offered in coupe and soft-top convertible (Cabriolet) body styles. Both are available in Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels.
Standard Premium Plus features include 18-inch wheels shod with summer tires, xenon headlights, LED running lights, heated and auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof and a sport-tuned suspension. On the inside, you get tri-zone automatic climate control, leather and faux suede upholstery, heated eight-way adjustable front sport seats with four-way driver lumbar support, driver-seat memory functions, split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth, a dash-mounted MMI (multimedia interface) electronics controller and a 10-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio and iPod integration. The Cabriolet adds a wind blocker and upgraded leather upholstery, but goes without the faux suede interior.
The Prestige trim adds adaptive headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a blind-spot monitoring system and a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system. Also included is the MMI Navigation plus package (optional on the Premium Plus trim) that adds the console-mounted MMI, a navigation system, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, Audi Connect (enhanced Web-based navigation, information and WiFi hotspot) and HD radio.
The optional Driver Assist is only offered on the Prestige trim and includes adaptive cruise control, adaptive steering and Audi drive select, which provides adjustable settings for the steering and transmission. A Comfort package is offered on the S5 Cabriolet in either trim and adds neck-level heating and perforated and ventilated front seats.
Stand-alone options offered on either trim level include 19-inch wheels, a sports differential, a power rear sunshade (coupe only) and carbon-fiber or stainless steel interior trim.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering every 2013 Audi S5 is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The coupe comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while the Cabriolet receives a seven-speed automated manual transmission, which is available as an option on the coupe. Regardless of transmission or body styles, all S5s are all-wheel drive.
In Edmunds performance testing, an Audi S5 convertible accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Audi estimates the coupe with a manual transmission will reach 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, which is about average for cars in this class.
The EPA estimates fuel economy for the manual transmission at 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 20 mpg in combined driving. The coupe with the automated manual is rated at 18/28/21 mpg, while the convertible is estimated at 18/26/21 mpg.
Standard safety features for the 2013 Audi S5 include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side and knee airbags and full-length side curtain airbags (for the coupe only). A blind-spot monitor is offered only on the Prestige trim, as is adaptive cruise control that includes an audible warning and brake intervention (under 19 mph) in the event the system detects an impending frontal crash.
In Edmunds brake testing of the 2013 Audi S5, both the coupe and Cabriolet came to a stop from 60 mph in 110 feet -- solid performance for a luxury performance car of this type.
Interior Design and Special Features
As is the case with nearly all Audis, the 2013 Audi S5's interior receives high marks for its understated design and use of top-notch materials. In terms of functionality, however, some elements can be hit and miss. The standard dash-mounted MMI controller isn't nearly as easy to operate as the interface that comes with the optional navigation system. The standard MMI requires a few extra steps compared to the optional MMI, which benefits from simplified menus and a more favorable console-mounted controller.
The comfort of the front seats is quite good for long road trips, with plenty of lateral support to hold you in place during enthusiastic cornering. The lack of head- and legroom in the rear seats, on the other hand, makes them suitable only for smaller passengers.
Unlike other convertible adaptations, the S5 Cabriolet requires little in the way of sacrifices compared to the coupe body style. The tight-fitting, multilayer top is so well insulated from noise and weather that you may forget you're driving a convertible and requires only about 15 seconds to raise or lower. With the top stowed, the trunk can still accommodate 10.2 cubic feet of cargo, which is only 2 cubes less than the coupe. Both body styles feature folding rear seats for added convenience, which is a rarity among convertibles.
One of our favorite traits of the previous S5 coupe was the muted growl of its burly V8. With the current supercharged V6, that burble has been replaced with a less-inspiring V6 rasp, although we doubt most drivers will complain. Power is plentiful, while the handling inspires confidence. The S5 does, however, feel a bit heavy near its limits, making it less of a sports car and more like a sporty touring car. That said, the 2013 Audi S5 does feel more connected to the road and athletic than the A5 on which it is based.
The steering feels slightly muted in terms of communication from the tires, yet it's still very precise. It's likely most buyers will opt for the automated manual transmission over the traditional manual for the sake of convenience, and it delivers a sprint to 60 mph that's only a half-second slower. This gearbox reacts smoothly to commands and executes downshifts with clinical perfection.
Even with the Audi S5's sporting personality, its ride quality does not suffer. Whether on a twisting mountain pass or driving cross-country, this handsome two-door proves a worthy traveling companion.