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2009 Audi S5: What's It Like to Live With?

Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2009 Audi S5 as our editors live with this car for a year.

Audi S5 2009

What do you want to know about?


May 25, 2009

Even in spring, the Pacific Coast Highway is cold at dawn. The cool, damp sea air stings our skin through open windows, yet closing them would be an aural mistake. The V8 nestled between our front tires loves the cold sea air, however, and bellows its appreciation. An echoing howl reverberating from beachfront homes is the only evidence we'd been there at all. The V8's 354 horsepower egged on by a six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive has us tearing a bright red blur in the Malibu skyline minutes before the sun has a chance to. Yes, we're driving a 2009 Audi S5.

"Do you love it?" he says. We're in line for coffee just off the PCH and a young goateed man in khaki shorts is confusing us before we've had a chance to recharge. "Do you love it?" he says again, this time pointing to the near empty parking lot. A black Audi A5 has parked perilously close to our Brilliant Red 2009 Audi S5. "I've had mine for three months; love it! Sedans are so stuffy. I needed a coupe! What do you think?"

Not sure yet, pal. We work for Inside Line and that there's our newest long-term test car. Give us 12 months and we'll let you know. And as we walk out that café door and look north, we trace the path of the PCH until it bends behind a cliff. There are hundreds of miles left of scenic California cruising left and the S5 is designed to conquer them all.

What We Got
Blame the economy, cheap airfare or the green movement. Blame whatever you want, but our culture is changing. Car culture is dying. It used to be that a Cadillac was 42 feet long, had only two doors and would be driven across the country with no more cause than an impulse for a slice of Boston cream pie. But now the Griswaldian road trip is a farce. Compared with six hours in an airborne tin tube, the expense and complication of more than four days of driving, pit stops and hotel rooms are virtually unjustifiable.

Thankfully there are some cars still capable of being road-trip stalwarts. The 2009 Audi S5 (and the A5, for that matter) is one of them. A long 108-inch wheelbase and a laundry list of standard features including 19-inch cast-aluminum wheels with 255/25R19 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx summer performance tires, Bluetooth and automatic climate control ensure that even the longest drive never becomes grating. And to ensure that the drive never becomes boring either, our new test car is equipped with Audi Drive Select, a $2,950 option that drastically alters the nature of the beast.

There are dynamic settings for the engine response and steering, and the electronic dampers can be set to Comfort or Sport modes. With the addition of Audi's navigation system ($2,390), an Individual mode is added to Audi's Drive Select allowing you to tailor each facet — engine, suspension and steering — to your liking. (So far we like dynamic on the engine and steering but there's no sense asking for luxury-car comfort for the suspension, since SoCal highways suck, so whatta you want from us?)

In this day and age, every true GT car worth its salt has a navigation system. And like any luxury car worth its salt, the 2009 Audi S5 makes you pay big for such an option. Some $2,390 gets the discerning S5 owner a slick, high-mounted nav screen, voice-activated controls and Audi's music interface (a fancy name for an iPod adapter).

Once the navigation system is sprung for, the Technology package is unlocked. This $2,200 splurge combines a rear sonar parking aid with rearview camera, adaptive headlights, keyless entry/start and Audi side assist, a feature that alerts drivers to cars lurking in the rear blind spot.

The last option we checked is for the $850 Bang & Olufsen sound system. Reason? Our long-term 2009 BMW M3 has the upgraded sound system and we wouldn't want the S5 to lag behind. The comparison between the two isn't apples-to-apples, but we've done it before and we'll certainly be doing it frequently in the months to come.

Add the $1,300 gas-guzzler tax, because the V8-powered S5 gets 14 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, and then add the $825 destination fee, so the grand total for our 2009 Audi S5 stands at $61,915.

Why We Got It
We wanted an Audi S5 in our garage for many of the same reasons we want Megan Fox in our bathtub. We hope to impress our friends, anticipate a return homeward with pleasure after a rough day, and enjoy it as its maker intended.

We got an S5 because it's cool and because it's one of the sexiest, most elegant things we've seen in years. Oh, and remember, the S5 won an Inside Line Editors' Choice award. Can Ms. Fox say the same?

There's not a whole lot new going on with the 2009 Audi S5 compared to the 2008 version. The chassis is the same underpinning the new A4 (including our long-term A4 Avant and Q5. The 354-hp 4.2-liter V8 is found in the Audi S4 and a dressed-up version of the same motor sits in the middle of the Audi R8, including our recently departed long-term test car.

We've seen Quattro all-wheel drive before. We've seen the 4.2-liter V8 before. We've even seen MMI when equipped with an iPod adapter. New to us, at least insofar as the long-term fleet is concerned, is the six-speed manual transmission and Audi Drive Select.

Audi Is a Way of Life
Clearly, then, this test is less of mechanics and machines than it is of a lifestyle. It's a lifestyle we appreciate and one that, even with this 2009 Audi S5, isn't long to continue. Rumor has it that next year's S5 will carry Audi's new supercharged V6 in place of the fan favorite, the award-winning 4.2-liter V8.

Rushing north along the Pacific Coast Highway as it becomes California Highway 1, one thing becomes abundantly clear: This car was made for America. Not every day is a scenic tour, however, and few of us have the cash to own a car just for piloting on long jaunts. So what's it like to live with day to day, on normal roads, errand runs and slogging commutes? Check our long-term road test blog for our take over the next 12 months and 20,000 miles.

Current Odometer: 507
Best Fuel Economy: 15.5 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 11.8 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 13.4 mpg

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Breaking It In On the Way to Denver

May 25, 2009

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.

So I headed out at noon on a Thursday hoping to make it to Grand Junction, CO that night , a nearly 800 mile stretch. The S5 made the initial 300-mile leg to Vegas uneventful and comfortable. After five hours behind the wheel I still felt fresh even though the seats don't seem all that special when you first get in.

It's an exceptionally quiet car on the highway. The V8 hum that you hear at idle disappears at higher engine speeds, so phone calls and the Stern show sounded great. Like our A4 Avant, the S5 pairs with a Bluetooth phone in seconds, and it will do it on the fly too.

I also liked the fact that the navigation system works when the car is moving once you "accept" the warning that it's a bad idea to do so. Sure, people shouldn't be staring at their navigation screens on the way to work, but in the middle of the desert it's nice to have the option of calling up the nearest gas station, especially since the S5 only goes about 325 miles or so on a tank.

Our S5 features Audi's Drive Select system which offers "comfort", "dynamic" or "automatic" modes for the steering, throttle and suspension settings. I put it in comfort mode for most of the drive as the vast majority of the roads were nothing but flat, straight highway. In that setting, the S5 isn't quite as soft as our BMW 7 Series, which goes into old school Cadillac mode when switched to its softest setting, but the Audi soaks up most bumps without any cabin noise. The system also has an "individual" mode which allows you to tailor each setting on its own. I found that I liked it best with the steering on "dynamic" while the suspension and throttle remained on "comfort". No reason to have lazy steering if you don't have to.

Made it to Grand Junction around midnight and Denver the next day by noon. Sure, it took five times longer than a flight, but I didn't regret it for a second. More details to follow.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 1,476 miles

Enthusiasm Reborn

May 27, 2009

Will cars like this Audi S5 vanish due to a troubled economy? I hope not, it's the kind of car that makes life worth living.

So long as there are cars like the Audi S5, enthusiasts and automotive enthusiasm will thrive. I just spent a few nights with our new S5 - here's how it went:

After I meticulously adjust the 10 way power seats, I connect my iPod and hand pick a list of freshly downloaded tracks. I spin the 4.2 liter FSI V8 to life with the push of a simple looking button. At the same time the Bang and Olufsen stereo syncs up and Silversun Pickup's crunchy "Panic Switch" fills the cabin.

I cruise out of my neighborhood and onto the main street. Lakewood Blvd. is also state highway 19 but the speed limit is just 40 miles per hour. In second gear, I'm already technically breaking the law. After a long tunnel, there's an entrance to the 405 fwy. It snakes right then left, winds around and eventually dumps me out onto 5 lanes of open highway. As the horizon becomes uncluttered, I gradually add more speed and take the 3 to 4 shift. The opening chords of Van Halen's "Unchained" come pouring through the speakers and blend perfectly with the V8's exhaust note. I put the windows up and take 5th gear. After that, I drove to a place you can't get to by any road. A place where I endlessly lap the streets of Roseville, California in a fuel injected Fiat Spider with only about 100 hp and a handful of cassette tapes. Both then and now, the slight smile is unexpected and free. Thanks Audi.

Brian Moody, Automotive Editor

Not Enough Guts for My Tastes

May 27, 2009

After making the nearly 1,000 mile trek to Colorado, I was sure of two things: 1) the S5 is one of the best looking cars on the road today, 2) I probably wouldn't buy one for myself even if I could.

As far as the first one goes, it's purely subjective. Every time walked back to the car from a snack break, or stopped to take a picture, the S5 looked perfect, even with hundreds of miles of road grime caked to its nose. It has the right stance, perfect proportions and simplicity in its lines that are hard to argue with. And judging by the number of random thumbs up I saw, most are in agreement with me on this one.

So why wouldn't I buy it?

Pretty simple - not enough power. Sounds nuts given its 354-horsepower V8, but it's not enough I tell ya. You hear that big 4.2-liter rumble to life and you expect something dangerous to happen when you lay into it, but all too often you get nothing but a gentle nudge.

It's an irresistibly smooth nudge mind you, and the noises that go along with it are almost worth the effort, but with a passenger and a couple of suitcases on board the S5 feels too soft at wide open throttle.

Maybe it's the fact that there's only 325 pound-feet of torque trying to move nearly 3,900 pounds of car, but our M3 only has 295 pound-feet of torque and it rarely feels so overwhelmed.

I suspect that few will agree with me on the S5's lack of punch, but I did nearly 2,000 miles in the thing in five days, I know what the car can do. Bring on the RS5 please.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 2,322 miles

Our Favorite Caption

May 29, 2009

Thanks to ergsum once again for this week's favorite caption.

We also got a kick out of these:

Inside Line tested, Paul Bunyan approved! (e10rice)
Why does the Nav say I've reached my destination when I'm at the Brokeback Mountain Saloon? (vwthing1)
Parking reserved for Johann Deere (canadia)
Yee-haw! I mean Wunderbar! (subytrojan)
Der Flanell! Das Boot! (ergsum)
I like big boots and I cannot lie! (ergsum)
The S5 gets kicked to the curb. (funkymunky)
Audi S5: Kicking things up a notch. (greenpiece)
MMI needs a reBOOT (subaru123)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Speedway shuttle

June 01, 2009

I, too, made the 35 mile trek last week to the Industry Speedway motorbike races. It took more than 1.5 hours one way in SoCal rush hour traffic, ample time to get acquainted with our long-term Audi S5.

The S5 has a superb, well-controlled ride, and decent handling with some understeer. The steering is typical Audi-light, but you do get used to it. Unlike Ed, I had more than enough power. But the clutch take-up in 1st gear is tough to get smooth in stop/go traffic: the S5 wants the just right amount of throttle or it will buck like a pony. It's not a problem in any other gear. Longish gearbox throws and a huge sunroof that doesn't open (just tilts) are my only other beefs.

And the looks? I think it's one of the best looking cars on the road.
Certainly better than one of these Speedway specials (no brakes at all!!).

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Eval Engineer @ 3340 miles

Steering Failure?

June 08, 2009

We've had the 2009 Audi S5 in our test fleet for about 2 months now. And every other person to drive it has come to me with concerns about the steering feel. I've heard ten different descriptions, each detailing how the steering system in our Audi is approaching failure.

- "What's up with the steering wheel? It shudders until you turn the wheel, then drives like a normal car."

- "Right around 45 mph the wheel starts to shimmy. You might wanna check it out."

- "It starts to shake up until about 80 mph. But if you just power through then its fine."

- "Feels like our Enclave did just before the power steering took a dump."

- "You're all crazy. It drives just like our A4 Avant. This must be normal."

Let's see what the dealer has to say about this.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 3,500 miles

Track Tested!

June 11, 2009

(Photo by Scott Jacobs)

It took a while, but earlier this month we finally managed to break-in our Long Term S5 and take it out to our test track.

The 2009 Audi S5 has some 349-horsepower from a 4.2-liter V8, quattro all wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission. More importantly, perhaps, it's rollin' on super-sticky Dunlop summer tires. More importantly, certainly, this thing is nearly 4,000 pounds.

So what'd it do? Follow the jump for quarter-mile, slalom, skidpad and braking tests.

Vehicle: 2009 Audi S5
Odometer: 3430
Date: 06/02/09
Driver: Chris Walton

Price: $61,915

Drive Type: All-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 6-speed manual
Engine Type: V8
Displacement (cc / cu-in): 4,200cc (256 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 4,400 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 354 @ 6,800

Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 325 @ 3,500
Brake Type (front): Ventilated Disc
Brake Type (rear): Ventilated Disc
Steering System: Speed-proportional power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 255/35ZR19 96Y
Tire Size (rear): 255/35ZR19 96Y
Tire Brand: Dunlop
Tire Model: Sport Maxx
Tire Type: Summer performance
Wheel Material (front/rear): Alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,924

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 1.9
0 - 45 (sec): 3.4
0 - 60 (sec): 5.2
0 - 75 (sec): 7.6
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 13.5 @ 102.6
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.0
30 - 0 (ft): 30
60 - 0 (ft): 110
Braking Rating: Excellent
Slalom (mph): 66.8 (64.6 with traction control enabled)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.92 (0.91 with traction control enabled)
Handling Rating: Excellent
Db @ Idle: 42.2
Db @ Full Throttle: 72.8
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 66.1

Acceleration Comments: Prefers slipping clutch launches, but you only get a few before it begins to smell, but it never slips. First gear is pretty short, shifts are at the mercy of the clutch damper, but gates are easy to find. Throws are a little rubbery / notchy. Long, linear "legs" in comparison to the R8 that feels much sharper, snappier.

Braking: Strong brakes, medium-firm pedal, very good fade resistance, little dive in "dynamic" mode.

Skidpad: " With ESP off, the S5 can be steered with the throttle (e.g. lift to tuck the nose in). Steering is light and not very informative. With ESP on, the throttle closes and drives around with the gas on the floor.

Slalom: Little, minute brake applications w/ESP on, then throws the anchor. best run was tidiest run with as little upset as possible. With ESP off, it gets loose but is always catchable. Still, the quick run was the cleanses/closest to the cones. Steering is quick, precise, but lifeless.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 3,430 miles.

A Pretty Great Escape

June 11, 2009

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

Audi Music Interface

June 15, 2009

It wasn't that long ago that VW and Audi iPod connections were the most frustrating interfaces on the planet. But our 2009 Audi S5 has the new Audi Music Interface (AMI), which improves things dramatically, especially if your MP3 player of choice is an actual iPod or iPhone.

There's a short cord in the glove compartment, into which you plug your iPod. At this point you can shut the lid and forget it, as all further music menu selections are done from either the MMI control wheel and nav screen, or the steering wheel thumbwheels and instrument panel information screen.

The system recognizes podcasts and audiobooks as their own "thing" and every menu level has a back button. The system never throws you all the way back to the top-level menu indiscriminately, as our Honda Fit does, and the MMI wheel is a much better way to scroll through 500 artists than a touch screen that can disply only 5 per page. As an iPod interface, this is now one of the best.

But what if you don't have an iPod?

Never fear. There are 4 cords, here. In addition to the iPod cord, you can get cords for a 3.5mm mini jack, USB and mini USB. But there is a catch.

Each cord costs over $50 from you Audi dealer. Our car came with the option that provides the iPod cable, so the actual cost for that one was $0, not $65.10.

But the others are extra, including the basic one needed for a generic MP3 player. Other cars provide multiple inputs that are hard-wired in the car. Not here. There's one universal socket, and you have to buy the right adapter cord for your needs.

That's a bit of a pain in the butt, if you ask me.

Changing cords is easy once you know that this little flap in the glovebox opens like this. From here you squeeze the tab on the connector body and gently pull it free. Some other Audi models put this junction box beneath the center armrest.

Here I've switched to the standard AUX/MP3 mini jack.

Here's the AUX cord in use, plugged in to my iPod's headphone jack, as you would any other old-school MP3 player. Trouble is, song selection has to be done at the device when using this cord, and it's too short to allow the device to come out of the glove box. You can't use you own cord as an extension either, because the Audi cord has a male end, not a female end.

Audi should have done one of two things: They should have made this cord 4-feet long or they should have put a female end on it so we could all use the cords we already own as an extension. As it stands, I need to go to Radio Shack to buy a male-to-male adapter to use my 4-foot cord.

Here's the USB cord in action. I especially like this, because a basic USB memory stick is the best in-car MP3 player going when connected to a system such as AMI. Why? A memory stick has no batteries, no on/off switch to forget and no moving parts. They're tiny and cheap, too. You can carry a dozen of them, if you like, and it's no big deal if you drop or lose one.

And here, the AMI system allows easy menu control using the MMI interface or the steering controls, just like an iPod. Close the glove box door and forget it. Too easy.

The problem with this is you have to buy the adpater cord to do it. Hondas, Fords, and a growing number of other products are hard-wired this way.

And this USB socket won't let you talk to your iPod through its standard white USB cord, either. I tried. iPods only work with the Audi iPod cord (which thankfully is a standard part of AMI.)

In addition to 2009 versions of the A5/S5 and A4/S4, AMI was optional on some 2007 and later Audi A6 and A8 models, and it made a mid-year appearance on the 2007 Q7. In can be retrofitted to these models if the option wasn't bought initially (AMI is usually bundled with the Premium package), but only if the car has the MMI single-point control interface.

Our 2009 A4 Avant long term test car also has AMI and it has the same glovebox interface, but no one has yet tried-out the S5's library of swappable cords in that car. It should work exactly the same.

Audi's AMI interface has a lot of flexibility and control. It's awesome as-is for iPods, and it does work with other devices, even if this isn't obvious while you're sitting in the car at the showroom. But the need to swap-out cords (and buy each one at over $50 each) is a pain, especially if you have more than one person in your family using more than one type of device. I know I fall into that category.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 3,873 miles

Steering Saga Continues

June 16, 2009

There it is. Our 2009 Audi S5.

And there it goes. The S5 is off to Audi's regional tech-center for further diagnosis. In the coming days we hope to learn whether our vehicle has a legitimate problem. Or, whether the steering wheel vibration we experienced is merely a characteristic of the Audi drive select system. Stay tuned.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 3,880 miles

Steering Vibration Follow-up

June 25, 2009

It's back. Our S5 returned from the Audi technical center yesterday. The purpose was to address the steering wheel vibration we noticed in our long-term S5 and A4 Avant. Here's what we learned.

Audi began by explaining that the vibration we experienced was not a sign of impending failure. And this was not a safety related issue. Rather, it was suggested that wheel balance and tire wear were to blame. At the very least, they were contributing factors to the vibration. So the technicians replaced both front tires and balanced all four wheels. We were told three wheels were out of balance upon arrival.

But that's not all. The fix isn't complete. Additional parts are currently on order with our local dealership to further address the situation. We'll update the status of our S5 and A4 once installation is completely complete.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 4,200 miles

Steering Vibration't

June 29, 2009

We recently got our Audi S5 back from Audi's tech center to address its steering vibration issue that comes and goes depending on velocity and road surface. On Friday, I took the car home, and noticed some vibration still in it, but it was more of a "feel" thing rather than a "visual" thing. Additionally, I noticed the car would follow seams and grooves in the road. Well, it was almost fixed.

The next morning, before a 200-mile drive, I checked the oil, filled the fuel tank and, hey, why not check the tire pressures? Guess what? The the rears were spot-on but the fronts had been set 5.0 psi under spec. I know they were set by the tech center because they replaced both front tires.

Watch the video to see what setting the tires to the proper pressure (39.0 psi) did for the steering vibration. Excuse poor sound and the "brian phart" when I call it the Audi S4 at the beginning.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 4,805 miles

There's A Monster In There

July 02, 2009

Just look at it. Probably one of the prettiest engines out there. No lame plastic covers over the entire engine, just a small plastic "frame" emblazoned with the Audi logo around in the intake manifold.

Just staring at it you can hear rock guitar riffs blasting at 11, a chorus of angles singing or the theme of Jaws playing in the background. Yes, I think it's that pretty.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

5 Kilomile Update

July 03, 2009

OK, I admit it. This is a terrible image. The 5,000 mile threshhold caught me off-guard without a real camera.

Luckily, the 5k mark came just as I steered our 2009 Audi S5 into a fuel station. Well, almost: I had to drive a half mile past and come back to nail 5,000 miles exactly at the pump.

All I had with me was my Blackberry, and cell phone cameras leave a lot to be desired, especially if they spend much time in a pocket.

For the record, it drank 14.225 gallons and the trip odometer read 199.6 miles. That works out to 14 mpg; not one of its better performances.

On the bright side, I bagged some nice suspension shots (with a real camera) earlier in the day. Look for the S5 suspension walkaround next week. Several interesting twists reside in these wheelwells.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehilce Testing @ 5,000 miles


July 05, 2009

I once heard an Audi representative say that its odd numbered models are emotional.

Oddly enough, so are automotive journalists.

We get excited over the hum of a V8 engine, and just the mere mention of pounds-feet of torque is enough to get us all jittery.

Add style to that mix in the form of Brilliant Red paint and you've got yourself a car of the week.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

By a Landslide

July 06, 2009

It's official: The 2009 Audi S5 is the best-looking car in our long-term test fleet. Or so says the die-hard porch dwellers at my corner coffee shop, Java Joe's.

And the "voting" wasn't even close. The 2009 Audi S5 won by a landslide.

Disagree? Here's photographic evidence...

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 5,259 miles

Open Thread Part 2

July 07, 2009

What do you want to know about the 2009 Audi S5? Can we answer any questions for you?

If you've driven one, write a review in the comments section. We look forward to reading your responses.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

The Sounds of Silence

July 07, 2009

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

Is Drive Select Worth it?

July 08, 2009

That's one of the questions you wanted answered, so here's my take.

Is the ability to dial in different suspension, steering and throttle settings nice to have? Sure, without a doubt.

Is it $3,000 nice? Nope.

As I said after my drive to Colorado in May, there's no real need to adjust the steering. Give me the quickest, more accurate setting 100% of the time and leave it alone. Same goes for the throttle. If it's dialed in correctly to begin with there should be no need to back it off or quicken it up.

I'm guessing most buyers will make the decision based on the adjustable dampers alone. You know, go soft in the city and highway and then crank it up for a twisty backroad. Sure, it's nice to have and all, and the various settings do make a noticeable difference.

But you know, I rarely find myself wishing for adjustable dampers in our M3 sedan. Yeah, it has them along with an adjustable throttle, but I don't even bother with that half the time either.

So save your $3000, or if you really want to spend it, buy the optional navigation and audio systems, you'll get way more for your money.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 5,244 miles

Track Ready

July 08, 2009

Ever wonder what that specially shaped niche in the trunk of an Audi S5 is for? Transporting slalom cones, of course.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 5,244 miles

Doesn't Like Heel and Toe Downshifts

July 09, 2009

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

Where Have All The Dipsticks Gone?

July 09, 2009

Stand back, Audi's about to feel the wrath of the International Dipstick Lovers Society.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Sunroof or Moonroof?

July 10, 2009

What is the difference between a sunroof and a moonroof?

I always thought that a sunroof doesn't open, you can only open the shade to let in light. And a moonroof is one that pops up and slides open to let in air. Perhaps the terms are interchangeable nowadays.

So, what would you call this window in the 2009 Audi S5? Audi calls it a panoramic sunroof. Sounds so dramatic. But in reality it only pops up a couple of inches and does not slide open.

That's disappointing in a car of this caliber and price.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Who Needs Coffee?

July 10, 2009

Who needs caffeine when you drive an Audi S5 to work in the morning?

The sound. The feel. The bright red paint.

With a 354-horsepower V8 and six-speed manual transmission, the usual one-hour morning commute seems way too short. The cabin is nicely insulated from noise, but driving with the windows down is a must to hear that powerful engine note.

Here's a video walkaround of our red beauty:

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Creaky Window

July 13, 2009

Do you see that? Of course not, it's a window. If you actually saw the window that would means it's dirty and we never let our precious test cars get dirty.

Well, windows are supposed to be quiet too, but the passenger side window on our S5 has developed a bit of a grumble. Nothing too bad, just a faint grinding whenever it's on the way down. If you turn your speakers up to 9 or so, you might be able to hear the offending noise in the fascinating video after the jump.

Even if you can't, I can assure you it's there and will be attended to shortly.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 5,509 miles

The Details Make a Difference

July 13, 2009

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

Too Rich For My Blood

July 14, 2009

If I had a dime for every person who stopped in their tracks to admire the S5 this past weekend I might actually be able to afford one for myself. Not sure if that would cover the cost of replacing the window motors, but I digress. That is all.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 5,534 miles

The Invisible Jet

July 15, 2009

Never mind Pepper Potts in the Iron Man movie, this is who I feel like when I drive our 2009 Audi S5: Wonder Woman in her invisible jet! The Audi is so quiet, powerful, fast and floaty yet not detached. Its nearly quiet engine was kind of surprising to me since its competitor, the BMW M3, emits such a beautiful sound when pressed. With the S5, I'd be hitting 4,000 rpm and still not hear a peep from the engine. Of course, when I rev it to 6K there's some noise but not really.

In any case, even over bumps (i.e. that normally jarring imperfection on the on-ramp to 90 West from 405 North) the cabin is undisturbed. I'm flying!

BTW, re: Wonder Woman in her invisible jet, I always wondered why she just didn't turn "invisible," once she stepped inside. If it's a special plane you'd think they'd give it that power instead of making its pilot vulnerable like that. Kinda defeats the purpose of having an invisible anything.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 5,547 miles

Love the Shifter

July 17, 2009

In the past couple of weeks the clutch operation and throttle response of our long-term 2009 Audi S5 were called out as issues on this blog. Well, I disagree. It's true that the S5 isn't as easy to drive smoothly as some cars out there, but for me that adds to the fun. It tells me the car was tuned for people that want to concentrate on the driving.

I think Audi's attitude is that if you don't want to think about what you're doing behind the wheel don't buy the S5. It's our enthusiast model. Over here is our A5 automatic. It may be better suited for your needs.

Then there's the S5's shifter, which is just spectacular. Smooth operation. Mechanical feel. Nice hard stops. And a well shaped, high quality aluminum and leather shift knob that is undoubtedly one of the highlights of this beautiful car.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

The Cure For The Crappy Day

July 22, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I had a day that would have killed the average man. Anything and everything went wrong from the first blast of the alarm clock to the moment I hit the elevator button to leave the office at 8 pm.

All I wanted to do was get a bite to eat and hit the rack. Well, that was all I wanted to do until I saw our lipstick red long-term Audi S5 waiting for me down in the parking garage. For the first time that day I smiled. It was warm night and traffic was light. I headed off into the flaming streets of Santa Monica with the S5's windows down and its V8 at full song.

By third gear my bad day had washed away and I decided to take the long way home. Took a ride down by the beach, hit a local twisty road and stopped at a Del Taco for a Monster Cholesterol Burrito with extra heart disease.

Three hours later I was finally home and absolutely convinced that it's still worth having a fun car. Cars that make you smile remain a worthwhile part of life. A valuable commodity. Had I walked down to the Smart that night it would have been a very different story.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Pretty Pictures Edition

July 24, 2009

Just a few shots from last night plus a couple of random musings...

I'm addicted to the sound of the S5's V8, especially down low. It reminds me of the Formula One pace car's growl and grumble in a sea of high-rpm shreiks. For a moment I am Bernd Maylander. Even in the middle of a Southern California heatwave, I'm driving with the windows down — just to hear the muted baritone symphony of the exhaust.

It's even pretty underneath. Audi made the engine bay aesthetically pleasing without resorting to plastic cladding to hide the mechanical bits. Just look at those intake channels — like fiercely interlocked fingers.

If you haven't guessed by now, I'm smitten with the S5. It's the answer to, "What if the Germans built a Mustang?"

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 5,822 miles

Warning - Cupholders

July 27, 2009

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

Pulling Its Weight in the Showrooms

July 28, 2009

There's a reason most companies don't bother with midsize coupes: they rarely sell particularly well. Sure they look good, handle well and have that certain air of adventure, but when it comes to forking over the money, most buyers get all practical and buy a sedan instead.

Not so with the Audi A5/S5 coupes. Through June, Audi has sold 3,785 A5/S5s versus 3,099 A6/S6 sedans. Not a huge margin, but a rare circumstance in the industry.

It highlights the importance of design when it comes to desirability. The A6 sedan just received a refresh, yet it's still relatively unremarkable. The A5 and S5, on the other hand, are two of the most eye-catching coupes on the road.

Makes you wonder if some other upcoming coupes will do the same. The Cadillac CTS comes to mind.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, InsideLine @ 6,084 miles

Survives X Games

August 03, 2009

Parking in the overflow lot at the X Games seemed like a good idea until it was time to leave, and the Evo and WRX owners here went all Travis Pastrana on us (the owner of the rally-prepped Celica was above all that). Our long-term 2009 Audi S5 survived with a fine coating of orange dust; fortunately, Monday is bath day for the cars in our fleet.

Apart from getting dirty, the S5 coupe was a superb weekend car. Ride quality is perfectly judged for Southern California freeways — something I've never before felt, or said, about an Audi. Everything is neatly damped and under control over just about every surface, yet the ride is remarkably compliant. I could drive for days in this car and not get tired of it.

And I do like this 349-horsepower version of the 4.2-liter V8. With it, the S5 gathers speed effortlessly when merging onto freeways. Though it has been mentioned that the exhaust note is too quiet to deliver satisfaction during heel-and-toe downshifts, if you listen hard, you can hear the deep note during passing maneuvers. Sometimes I would drop down an extra gear or two just to enjoy it.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 6,375 miles

Put My Start Button on the Dash

August 04, 2009

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.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 6,390 miles

HDTV compatible

August 10, 2009

I found out this weekend that our long-term has fold-down seats. This gorgeous sport-coupe can be somewhat practical, but probably won't be useful for your next home remodeling job.

I was going to show some photos of a 42-inch plasma TV in the back, but it's not on sale right now.
So instead, I have photos of...

... a box. As long as the object you load isn't too tall, you can probably fit it in here.
(Is a big-sceen TV the benchmark of cargo capacity that most men [and some women] have in the their heads?)

The drawings from the Audi media site show the trunk to be about 39" wide by 42" deep, with the seats up. Audi lists the EPA luggage capacity as 12.0 cubic ft. There's also a trunk pass-through if you have skis or 2x4s.

So you have the means, but are worried about carrying a few things?
You may be able to make do with the sexy S5/A5 as your sole vehicle.

Albert Austria, Senior Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 6730 miles

Are the Days of the CD Changer Numbered?

August 13, 2009

Couldn't help but notice the substantial dashboard real estate being occupied by our S5's CD changer. I hadn't really noticed it before because I've never actually used it.

That got me thinking about the fate of the in-dash CD player. Now that new cars have almost universally rid themselves of the cassette deck, how long before CD players are banished to some obscure options list?

I mean, who buys CDs anyway? And even if they do, who doesn't just immediately rip them to some form of music player?

With no big CD mechanism to worry about, hopefully automakers will take the opportunity to clean up their dashboards, but I'm not counting on it.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 6,746 miles

Adjustable Suspension? Not Necessary

August 17, 2009

I've noted in previous posts that the Audi S5's optional adjustable suspension isn't worth it. Now I'm convinced.

See that insanely perfect road above? I took that route on my way up to Monterey this weekend. Went the whole way through with the suspension in "automatic" mode. Loved every minute of it, which is possible with pretty much any car on this road.

On the way back, I took the same route, only this time I used "comfort" mode for the highway stretches and "dynamic" mode for this particular section. Did the S5 feel great? Sure, but not any better than it did before. It still understeered at the limit and sent an occasional shock through the body on the highway, but it was fine.

So, in other words, give me a well-tuned standard suspension any day of the week and leave the adjustable stuff to the racecars.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @7,548 miles

Now Seating

August 19, 2009

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

I Call Backseat!

August 24, 2009

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.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 7,720 miles

Shoulda Been a Hardtop

August 25, 2009

What do you think? The top photo of our long-term 2009 Audi S5 is unmanipulated. It is a shot of the car as Audi sells it with a fixed B-pillar and rear side glass.

The bottom photo, however, shows through the magic of Photoshop how much cooler the S5 would be without a B-pillar and rear side glass that can be lowered. Just look at that thing with all four of its windows down and no pillar, the car goes from a 9 to a 10.

What do you think?

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Shoulda Been a Hardtop Part 2

August 28, 2009

On Tuesday I posted that the Audi S5 shoulda been a hardtop. Some of you agreed and some of you did not.

I think Mercedes agrees.

On Wednesday I drove home in this blue 2010 Mercedes E550 Coupe, a newly redesigned direct competitor to the Audi S5 and one of the few true hardtops still on the market.

Notice how sleek and this Benz looks with no B-pillar and all four windows down. I also noticed a huge visibility improvement whether the Mercedes' windows were up or down.

By the way, as you can see, the Benz's sunroof also slides open, while the Audi's does not.

What do you think?

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Electronic Parking Brake is great, most of the time...

September 04, 2009

I love electronic parking brakes (E-PKB) such as the one on our LT 2009 Audi S5.
E-PKB is on all Audis except the A3, TT, and R8.
Although they are more expensive, they're are also easy to use and they don't stretch out a cable like on mechanical PKBs.

The most important benefit is interior packaging. You can see in the photo how small the switch is and that there is plenty of room for 2 big cupholders and a handy slot for your phone or spare magazine.
And you don't have to package or deal with a silly foot parking brake.

However, there is a problem with our S5's E-PKB in its execution.

Here's the thing: in order to release the E-PKB, your must first depress the brake pedal. No problem, right? It's better from a safety standpoint.

But if you're robbing a bank or something or just want to make a quick getaway, sometimes you would rather just balance the clutch and throttle as you simultaneously drop the mechanical handbrake. I do this a lot and when I tried this on our S5 I got the above display.

Now what if you're on a hill? I verified with the Audi guy that our S5 does not have a hill-holder brake. If you want to use the E-PKB to hold the hill, you may be out of luck as you have to press the brake pedal first. Or you could balance the car with the brake, clutch, and throttle and risk frying the clutch.

I haven't tried this on any steep hills yet, so I don't know if you can quickly stab the brake on a hill start as you release the E-PKB. And BTW, our S5 has accel pedal override of the E-PKB, but there is quite a bit of resistance before it releases.

Dear Audi: add a hill-holder to your vehicles equipped with electronic parking brake and we're good.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 8300 miles

High Fashion

September 08, 2009

It's been a long time since I've driven a car that gets as much notice as this one. People in line for valet parking. Girls in crosswalks. Kids at lemonade stands.

Audi has become the signature of high-fashion European style. When people see an Audi, they imagine themselves in some kind of wacky fashion photo shoot in Italy. And that's the reason Audi AG commissioned its own series of fashion photos with models Natalia Worner and Robert Seeliger, from which this picture is taken.

When you see an Audi, you think of exotic Europe. When you see a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz, you think of the country club parking lot in Indianapolis. And this is why Audi is winning the design contest and BMW and Mercedes are losing it.

Michael Jordan, Executive Ediutor @ 8,345 miles

Even Feels Good Going Slow

September 11, 2009

There was a rumor going around that Audi was rethinking its decision to drop the S5's V8 in favor of a supercharged V6. The blown six makes about the same amount of power, but it does it more efficiently.

Seems like an obvious swap right? Well, it turns out people both inside and outside the company have lobbied for a reprieve for the V8. Why? It sounds good and feels good in a way the V6 never will.

I can't blame them a bit either. As sweet as the S5's ultra-smooth V8 feels near its 7,000 rpm redline, it feels just as satisfying at half throttle. I don't remember another engine that felt so good short shifting its way from first to fourth, it's that good.

It's not any one thing either, but the combination of its deep sound, silky power delivery and the smooth clutch take up and light, precise shifter that distribute the power. Can't imagine buying an S5 with an automatic. Actually, maybe that's the solution, make the V8 only available with the manual. It would buyers some incentive to use their right arms again, and they probably wouldn't complain a bit.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 8,339 miles

Two Little Things

September 14, 2009

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.

The second little thing I really like about this car is the power seat switch mounted on top of the seat - no stooping over to move the seat all the way up when hauling rear seat passengers. Here's the best part, when you press the switch that's on top of the seat, that seat moves forward or back more quickly than if you use the switch that's mounted at the bottom. Nice!

Brian Moody, Automotive Editor

Child Safety Seat Fitment Issues

September 18, 2009

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.

Interestingly, the rear head restraints also don't come out on our A4 Avant wagon. I've always disliked that, but at least with the A4 you can position the child safety seat in the middle where there isn't a head restraint. For the S5, though, there's just rear seating for two — no middle seat or middle seatbelt. The fixed head restraint also makes it much harder to secure the top tether point on the rear deck.

The upshot of all this is that in order to secure a safety seat for my two-year-old, I had to angle it in such a way that the base isn't flush with the seat cushion (the safety seat's instructions tell you to have the seat flush). I'm also not very keen on the Audi's seat cushion being so highly contoured (had to use a bunch of towels to equal everything out) and the way the child safety seat ends up being so close to the rear side-curtain airbag mounted in the C-pillar.

For adults and bigger kids, sure, the S5's rear seat should be just fine (though I have to disagree with Caroline in that I don't find it particularly comfortable — not enough headroom and the outboard armrests are too hard). But this is the first coupe I've driven in our long-term fleet where locating a child safety seat on the front passenger seat actually seemed like, if not a better position, than certainly equal in terms of fitment.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Say Hello To Gimpy

September 21, 2009

Yep, our long-term, oh-so-sexy 2009 Audi S5 turns heads all the time. It turns even more heads when its got a too-sexy-for-my-shirt spare tire mounted. Mildly amusing details on how and why this happened follow after the jump.

Last Friday morning, I was playing around with the S5's MMI interface and decided to check the Audi's oil level via the electronic oil dipstick. Officially, the oil level was "OK," but the graphic indicator bar had the oil level about two-thirds of a quart low.

(Note: Picture was taken while the car was at an incline; proper measurment on a flat surface after a couple minutes of engine shut-off resulted in a slightly lower level.)

So I drove over to my local auto-parts store to buy a quart of oil. Purchase successful, I got back into the S4 only to find the tire pressure monitoring system light lit up. A quick visual inspection of the tires revealed one very-flat left-front tire. D'oh!

Surely, you've seen guys wrenching on their vehicles in auto-part store parking lots before. In my experience, at least, these vehicles look like they're one anti-freeze fill away from the crusher. But hey, not today AutoZone patrons! For your amusement you get to watch an unshaven, flip-flop-wearin' dude change a tire on his new shiny-red Audi S5!

In the spectrum of flat-tire changes, I'd have to say this one was pretty easy — I'll take a change at an auto-parts store over a road-side change with semi trucks barreling past anyday.

Everything was pretty standard, and the S5 had all the required equipment in the trunk, including the spare tire, jack, lug wrench and the little pin you use to pull off the center cap. Even the lug nuts weren't too hard to loosen, which is always a concern with the dinky lug wrenches they give you in cars.

I pulled off the flat tire and inspected it. There was an impression and toothpick-size hole near the center of the tread width. A puncture wound, for sure, but whatever the offending item was, it was long gone. I'm not even sure when it happened as the tire deflation was pretty quick.

I drove over to my local Tire Pros shop a couple miles away to have them take a look at the tire. "Yep, we can patch that," said my advisor. I left the tire at the shop so I could get back to work. The gimpy S5 drove a bit differently with the space-saver on (some vibration through the wheel, altered ride quality) but otherwise it did alright. Pressure in the spare tire was fine, too.

I went back to Tire Pros and had the patched tire mounted later that day. Total cost was $25. The TPMS warning was still active, though. When I got home, I checked and set all four tires for the correct air pressure and then reset the sensor via MMI.

Oh yeah, and the oil. Topped off with Castrol Syntec 5W-40 (meets the owner manual's recommended VW 502 00 standard). Unlock the power in your gimpy sexy beast!

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 9,061 miles

For $62,000, I'll Pass, Please

September 28, 2009

I had a big junior-high crush on our long-term Audi R8. Loved that car. I'd back over editor Sadlier with our Honda Insight to have one (well, maybe.) So one might think I'd have a similar passion for our Audi S5. But so far ... meh.

The S5's styling and its V8 seem to be what most people like about it. But subjectively, the car doesn't do much for me. Is it classy looking? Sure. But plenty of other luxury cars are, too. As for the 4.2-liter V8, the real-world experience is a letdown. Gun it, and the S5 isn't any quicker than a Mustang GT. The ballyhooed engine note isn't any better, either, and its low audible output means you'll never hear it over a cracked window or the radio.

The Audi S5's standard all-wheel drive could be considered an advantage. It's no doubt nifty if you live in a place that gets lots of precipitation. But most of the time it's just along for the ride. AWD makes it tricker to aggressively launch the S5 from a stop, too. A clutch drop at 6,200 rpm? No thanks if it's my car.

Even with all this, I'll still admit that the S5 is a pretty cool grand-touring coupe. Taking one cross-country like Ed did to Colorado would be fun. But our long-term car's $61,915 price is the killer for me. If I had $62K to spend on a coupe from our long-term fleet, I'd use $37,145 for our now departed BMW 135i.

Plenty of our staff disliked the 135i's startled-top-hat styling and lower-grade interior, so I could see where someone might say the S5's extra price would be worth it just for those two reasons alone. But I think the 1 Series looks fine, and you're going to get nearly identical acceleration plus a more rewarding driving experience out of it as compared to the S5.

I'd also have $25,000 left over. With that, I'd have some cash on hand to pay Sadlier's medical bills to get that R8.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 9,190 miles

Nighttime Drive In Los Angeles

October 02, 2009

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

Tell Me Why I'm Wrong

October 06, 2009

Our 2009 Audi S5 is hands down the best looking vehicle in the long-term fleet today. In fact, from the inception of our long-term test program it is second to none. Every car. It turns more heads than all of them. OK, make it second to one. The R8.

Now I know I'm right, but let's hear it. Based on looks alone, what's your favorite long-term car?

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 9,200 miles

10,000 Miles And Counting

October 08, 2009
Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Cruisin' & Downshiftin'

October 09, 2009

Our long-term 2009 Audi S5 has a manual gearbox. It has cruise control. Those things by themselves are not remarkable.

The way they interact, if not remarkable, is unusual. Once set, the S5's cruise control does not cancel if you decide to downshift. The S5's cruise control resumes your set speed as soon as you've completed the gearchange.

This took me by surprise at first, only because so few manual-gearbox cars allow this. Typically the cruise cancels when you dip the clutch.

Because I'm a geek, I began thinking of what might drive an automaker's decision to adopt this "clutch-resume" strategy (as Audi has) over the usual "clutch-cancel" one.

Pro: On a steep freeway grade that requires you to drop down a gear to maintain your speed, "clutch-resume" allows you to do so without having to hit resume afterwards. One less button-press in this case.

Con: Downshifting for engine braking in a "clutch-resume" car requires you to hit cancel first, else you're in for a surprise when the car tries to re-accelerate to your set speed! One more button-press in this case, or use the brakes.

Any geeks out there that can think of other pros or cons to either approach?

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Nascar worthy?

October 13, 2009

I rolled to the Nascar race on Sunday in our long-term 2009 Audi S5. Last week, we posted on Straightline that Ford will introduce a Nascar version of their Mustang.

Huh. I wonder if Audi would like to enter the series with the S5. That's because due to its excellent suspension and Quattro all-wheel-drive grip, the production version at least is utterly stable and composed at speeds over 100 mph. (I mean, a professional driver on a closed course told me.)

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 10,500 miles

Blind spot detection

October 15, 2009

Our long-term 2009 Audi S5 is equipped with a blind-spot detection system (named, somewhat confusingly, Audi side assist). It's part of the Tech package ($2200) that includes back-up camera, adaptive headlamps (AFS), and smart keyless entry/start.

If another vehicle is in your blindspot (either side), the dots in the respective mirror housing light faintly (above pic). Signal a lane change while the other vehicle is there and the dots flash. Audi says the system range is 150 ft and your car must be going at least 19 mph. There is no auditory alert.

If you aren't aware of the system, the first time it flashes you may think you ran a traffic camera.
Or that perhaps paparazzi were interested in your business.

What's that? You don't like it because you're a Luddite?
There's a defeat switch near the A-pillar above the speaker.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer, Edmunds, Inc.

The Doors

October 19, 2009

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

That Feeling

October 21, 2009

The S5 manages to do something very, very few other cars have managed to do - it makes me feel like an adult.

It makes me feel refined and well-heeled. It makes me look like I have good taste and European sensibilities. It made me want to go buy a Barcelona chair.

After I drove it for the night, I wanted to do absolutely nothing to this car. It's just so... done.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 10,739 miles

Fan Club

October 22, 2009

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

Ideal GT Car

October 26, 2009

Cross-county road trip? Our longterm 2009 Audi S5 is the choice ride. This is isolation done right — think smooooth, not squishy. The downside of this for driving enthusiasts is that the S5's steering is mute, there's driveline lash from the soft engine mounts and the gearchange could be more precise. As a result, there's a slightly synthetic feel to the helm and the throttle.

The S5 isn't an M3, and that's precisely the point. It trades a bit of sport for an extra helping of refinement, and most people will be just fine with that. It's truly a sweet ride. Just not for me.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Waking Up to a Low Tire

October 29, 2009

What a way to start the day. Yesterday morning I was greeted by a low tire warning a minute or so after I left my driveway in the 2009 Audi S5. But that's not to say the tire went low somewhere in those first couple hundred yards — it doubtlessly dipped below the trigger point while the car sat overnight.

The delay comes from the way most TPMS systems operate. The in-wheel pressure sensors and their transmitters are battery powered, but the need for long battery life means they don't broadcast continuously. Update intervals range from once per minute to once every three minutes, and reports are not necessarily issued at engine start.

And that's why I got a half-mile or so down the road before the warning came on.

I drove directly to my neighborhood gas station, where the normal-looking left front proved to be at 28 psi instead of the 39 psi that's specified for an S5 front tire. I topped if off and drove on to the office without further incident.

The reason for this pre-dawn delay was a leaking plug/patch installed last month after Brent picked up a large hunk of debris.

According to our trusty local tire store, the guy who installed this plug went a little overboard and bored too large a hole, causing our slow leak and making it impossible to re-repair. So we've had to install a new matching Dunlop 255/35ZR19 tire at a cost of $330. Total damage with tax, tire disposal fee, mounting and balancing came to $396.18.

The good news is this: TPMS saved the day again. We've had more than a half-dozen experiences like this, in which leaking tires that never actually looked low never had a chance to develop into roadside flats.

My gripes? The S5's TPMS minimal system does not have position intelligence or a direct pressure readout, so I had to check all four tires with my own gauge to find the low tire. On top of that, the system requires a manual system reset through the MMI screen after you reset your pressure (and the trigger threshold) to whatever accuracy your handheld gauge possesses. Most cars do this automatically.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 10,985 miles

It'll Be a Sad Day When the V8 Is Gone

November 05, 2009

Audi has already announced that it will replace the S5's 4.2-liter V8 with the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that currently resides in the 2010 S4. Actually, convertible S5s have already made the switch. There are some internal discussions at Audi about keeping the V8 around in the coupe, but last we heard the V6 was still the engine of choice.

A shame really. I've said here many times that the power of the S5's V8 is often underwhelming, but that doesn't mean I don't like it. It's nice to be able to roll into the throttle in sixth gear on the way to Vegas for SEMA and feel the S5 pick up speed so effortlessly. Not sure whether it's the sound of the engine or the feel through the gas pedal, but it's too good to pass up.

That would probably explain my less than exceptional mileage on the 600-mile round trip (around 18mpg or so). It would also explain why I would tell anybody who's thinking about buying an S5 to do it now. They're not getting much better than this.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line

If Looks Could Thrill

November 08, 2009

With its 354-horsepower V8 engine, six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive, the Audi S5 has been a favorite in our fleet ever since it arrived.

It doesn't hurt that it has Brilliant Red paint and silver-painted details.

This car ain't just a pretty face, it's car of the week.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Unlikely Cargo Space

November 09, 2009

Here's something I don't normally expect from a coupe — even a decent sized one like the S5. That's a full suspension mountain bike with 29-inch tires. In other words, it's big. But it fits in the S5 when the seats are folded with no problems.


Josh Jacquot, Senior Road Test Editor

Open Thread

November 10, 2009

What do you want to know about the 2009 Audi S5?

Have you driven one or seen one on the road? Write your review in the comments section.

Are there any details you want us to take a picture of or perhaps a video?

Let us know.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor


November 11, 2009

You asked for it, so here it is. This is you view over the driver's shoulder of our 2009 Audi S5. In comparison to other coupes it really isn't too bad. As you might expect, the blindspot is more significant with a taller driver in the front passenger seat. In this picture the seatback is only reclined moderately.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

Mystery Slots

November 11, 2009

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

The Sound Clip You Asked For, Maybe

November 12, 2009

You asked for an audio clip of our 2009 Audi S5 "idling, revving, accelerating away, driving past at WOT."

Alas, our crack video team had a prior engagement, so we bring you this video (after the jump, man, after the jump) with yours truly in the cockpit and my colleague, Loren Wong (subytrojan) doing the camera work. This would be the "accelerating away" clip, and it was recorded on a closed course.

In addition to this video (and it's after the jump, remember), you could always go back and watch the original, professionally-shot track video of our S5.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 12,309 miles

I Need a 25th Hour

November 12, 2009

I realized this morning that I haven't spent nearly enough playing with the Audi Drive Select program on our 2009 Audi S5. Somehow this coupe always seems to come to me on a night when there's nothing more than freeways in the forecast.

Last night I thought about how much I like the precision and lightness of the Audi's steering, even if it's not terribly rich in feedback.

This morning, though, it occurred to me I could have reset the steering to "Dynamic" mode (rather than leaving it in "Automatic") and perhaps it would have felt even better. Damn. And then it was time to park and go to work. I have the keys to the Audi again tonight, though, so I've got another chance.

As an aside, the Bang & Olufsen audio system in this car is easily the best in the fleet. NPR's Carl Kasell might as well be in the passenger seat telling me about how things are in Afghanistan.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 12,310 miles

Mirror, Mirror, what's your best color?

November 12, 2009

Our long-term 2009 Audi S5 has an aluminum outer mirror shell.
Well, at least it looks amazingly like aluminum.

I gave it a rap with my knuckle the other day, then verified (once again) with the Audi Guy: the mirror shell is plastic. But you really can't tell by looking at it, even up close.

However, I think that mirror shell would look even better in body color. What do you think?

Let's vote!!

(Thanks to Mark T. for the photochop)

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 12,310 miles

Could Do Without the Stinking Badge

November 13, 2009

Not sure when Audi got into the habit of putting engine badges on the front quarter panels of its cars. Could be an old habit or one that just got started, but I wouldn't mind if it died a silent death.

Now I'm no badge hater. I've got a Chevelle that's covered with them. But when it looks as measly as the S5's "V8" it doesn't do much for me. Give the V8 a name or the badge a little more style if you're going to bother with it.

I'm not expecting much out of Audi though. The new S4 has a 3.0T badge on it and it's not even turbocharged. Oh well.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line

Sunroof Is Nice, But Not That Nice

November 16, 2009

From this angle it would appear as though the S5's sunroof is quite large. It is big, but unlike the blacked-out section you see here, the actual opening is not half the size of the car's roof.

From the driver's seat the sunroof opening looks quite normal. Tilt it up and the whole roof panel does raise up a bit, but the effect on the inside is no different.

So basically, Audi uses that big piece of glass for nothing more than a little decoration. Instead of an odd-looking square stuck in the middle of the roof, the designers went the extra mile and made it look like it belongs there. Nice.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 12,510 miles

Why is the IP so dark?

December 10, 2009

I had to make a run to the store last night, so I cranked up the S5 in the driveway, and noticed the instrument panel was only partially lit. Hmm. What gives?

It turns out, the LED DRLs — that's "Light Emitting Diode" "Daytime Running Lamps" if you're not up to speed on your TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) — are so danged bright, I mistakenly thought my headlights were on. Here's what it looks like with the HID (High-Intensity Discharge) Xenons on.

Sure, it is a big difference, but I could imagine driving a few miles at night with only the DRLs on. Have any of you done this?

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 13,218 miles

Winter is here; Let's Escape to Spring!

December 15, 2009

We had this year's Storm of the Century this past weekend in Los Angeles.
I had our long-term 2009 Audi S5 and it handled the rainy weekend quite well.

Of course, that was nothing compared to most of the country which has gotten pummeled with actual winter.

Already tired of the cold?

Let's fantasize and escape to a warm, sunny day in Sonoma, CA — that's Wine Country neighboring the Napa Valley.

What vehicle shall we tool around in? Hit the jump to find out.

Let's go for a preview spin in the 2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet, with a 333 hp supercharged 3.0L V6 mated to a dual-clutch transmission — that's the same powertrain package that's on the new S4 (which is also available with a 6MT.)

Happy Holidays! Remember that Spring and your new S5 Cabriolet are only five months away.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 13, 370 miles

Wide Open In One Press

December 16, 2009

Hit the remote trunk release on the key fob of most of the cars in our long-term fleet, and the lid simply unlatches. If you're lucky, it pops up an inch so you can give it a grab to open up all the way.

Not so in our longterm 2009 Audi S5, and in a good way — when you hit the S5's remote trunk release on the key fob, the lid rises fully up with no manual intervention required.

It's a nice little touch, especially when your hands are already full. And unlike the similarly wide-opening trunk of our uber-lux BMW 750i, closing the Audi's decklid is light and easy.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Can You Imagine Yourself in This Car?

December 17, 2009

Le sigh. Our 2009 Audi S5 sure looks good on my driveway. On the rare occasion that I get to take a fancy car home, I like to imagine that I own it. But what sort of person with what sort of job would I have to be to own this Brilliant Red sport-luxury car? A TV producer with one successful show under her belt? An entertainment lawyer? Or perhaps Heidi from The Hills?


Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 13,459 miles

Not Always Welcome

December 29, 2009

On the streets surrounding our Santa Monica offices, 2009 Audi S5s are a dime a dozen. But 80 miles east, in the Inland Empire, things are different. There is no ocean breeze. No marine layer. And out here, the S5 sticks out like a sore thumb.

I found myself in this desert oasis over the weekend. I'd been here 100 times before, but never in the S5. Horns were honked. Smiles were cast. Hands were waved. One poor kid even dropped her ice cream cone. The car drew so much attention it made me uncomfortable. I couldn't shake it. Not even a sale at this local statuary dustbowl could lift my spirits.

I don't welcome the celebrity status the S5 holds out here. Next time I'm taking the Ram. And next time I'm buying that Statue of Liberty lamp.

Mike Schmidt, Manager of Vehicle Testing @ 13,500 miles

There's An Actual Engine Under the Hood

January 05, 2010

I have long suspected there was a sizable V8 under the hood of our long-term Audi S5. It says so right on the quarter panel after all. But all too often these days, opening the hood of a luxury car reveals nothing but a picnic table of plastic that hides any sign of actual machinery.

Not so in the S5. Just look at those intake runners, gorgeous. And check out those cylinder heads hanging off each side of the block. It's pure mechanical bliss I tell ya. Sure, there is a small plastic cover on top, but even that looks like it belongs there. Nice work Audi.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 13,578 miles

So Red, So Soothing

January 07, 2010

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

Open Road Machine

January 11, 2010

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was in Las Vegas this past week, and I snagged the keys to the Audi S5 for a quick blitz from L.A., heading out Thursday afternoon and back late Friday night. My first extended stint in the S5, what struck me most was the sweet V8, strong brakes, high-levels of grip and poor fuel range.

A quarter tank got me from the office to just below the El Cajon pass via I-10 and I-15. Some mid-day maintenance on I-10 had me in gridlock for 40 minutes. Time to appreciated the smooth clutch and 6-speed shifter. Neither offer much in terms of feedback or satisfying engagement, but both work with low effort. The 4.2-liter direct-injected V8 is a jewel: smooth, linear thrust, and it sounds so sweet you almost don't mind sitting in traffic. Burbling between first and second, the motor remains tractable right down to idle.

Fueled back up and with traffic fading as the S5 clears the pass into the high desert, the S5 just eats miles. A Grand Tourer in the traditional sense, the S5 feels heavier than it looks (Audi claims 3,858 pounds for the manual), but rolls down the interstate with ease. The only hard part is keeping your speed down, as the six-speed seems geared for the moon. The Bang & Olufsen stereo in our S5 sounds quite good, and though it won't charge your iPhone, it does easy justice to mp3 files, and even XM is quite listenable. Using cruise control to stay out of the pokey, I make it to Vegas with just under a quarter tank.

Once in Vegas, the S5 is a massively cooler alternative to the blocks-long line for cabs, and I spend Thursday night shuttling our own CES rock-star Doug Newcomb between social events. Audi's nav system is a little clunky (MMI always seems to need one extra button push to get what you need), but steers us right, even in a town perpetually under construction. The valets perk-up when the S5 rolls in, and the rich red paint looks luscious, reflecting back the unending Sin-city illumination. I'm not fan of red cars, but the shade just works on the S5. Perfect for Vegas, no other car currently sports curves like Audi's coupe, as if the body was melted onto the chassis.

Friday night it's the same head-turning, event-hopping drill, before a late escape to L.A. on desert back roads. I'm sure to tank up just before abandoning the interstate, hoping I won't have to stop again before home. These flowing two-lanes are where the S5 really comes into its element. The V8 doesn't feel ludicrously powerful in the S5, but it pulls steadily, gear after gear. The muted thrust is deceptive, and before the next corner arrives, you are deep into the stout brakes, and thankful for the impressive amounts of mechanical grip. The brake pedal is money, initially firm, but linear with STRONG response.

As the empty desert roads unreel in the bright highbeams, the S5's sense of heftiness remains, but accurate steering, and hunkering grip under power makes swift work of the Mojave. The S5 never feels really light on its feet, but in these open spaces (I see two other cars in 127 miles), it's in its element ("Is the S5 more Monte Carlo than Mustang? Leave enraged comments below..."). There's some elevation involved, but the V8 again feels only adequate, pulling steadily but not particular hard at speed. It sounds awesome, but lacks the deep well of torque of brawnier, larger-displacement V8's (only 325 lb ft @ 3500 rpm).

I regain I-10 near Palm Springs and loaf it in sixth hoping to avoid another fuel stop before L.A., but the fuel light is on again 40 miles from home. I cave only 5 miles from the hacienda, adding 15.3 gallons after 298 miles, a respectable 19.5 mpg. According to the specs, I had another 1.3 gallons (maybe) to play with, but the needle was on empty. A couple more gallons for the S5's tank would be nice, but if it altered the exhaust note or shape of the car one bit, I'd live with the limited fuel range.

Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 14,879 miles

15,000-mile Service

January 15, 2010

On Wednesday our 2009 Audi S5 sent up a warning to let us know it was time to visit the dealer for routine scheduled maintenance.

As usual, we brought it to Audi of Santa Monica. The service was pretty routine: Oil change, in-cabin filter, inspection and a computer diagnostic check.

What was also usual, at least for an Audi dealer Santa Monica was the stratospheric cost: $448.76. $255 of which was for labor ($170/hr).

The entire process took them about 5 hours.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 14,993 miles

Deja Vu at 15,000 Miles

January 19, 2010

Is it just me? I swear I end up in more than my fair share of long-term cars on the verge of hitting a mileage milestone. I was in this very 2009 Audi S5 as is rolled through 5,000 miles, and here I am again as it clicks past the 15,000-mile barrier.

On the other hand, our long-term fleet does contain upwards of 20 cars. Maybe everyone else in the office is muttering the same thing.

In any case, the Audi S5 feels more-or-less the same at 15k as it did at 5,000 miles.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 15,115 miles

Seats Haven't Deteriorated a Bit

January 19, 2010

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

Grille Talk

January 21, 2010

"Nice grille."

"Thanks, I like yours too. Had it long?"

"Forty years. How about you?"

"Well, I only got mine last year, but some of my brothers got theirs back in 2006. Now I know where they got the idea."

"Really, do you think any of your designers have even seen me? I mean, I'm a Chevy."

"Of course they have. You're famous. You and than that um, that um...the one named after the horse."

"The Mustang?"

"Yeah, the Mustang. Everybody knows you guys. In fact, some say I'm just a newer German version of you."


"Sure. Same formula. I'm just a little fancier and more expensive, but I've got a front mounted V8 in a sexy coupe body just like you."

"That's so cool. How many gears do you have?"

"Six. Why?"

"Oh, I only have four."

"Hey man, don't let that get you down. You still got it goin' on. Heck, you even started the alpha numeric names we also use today."

"You know my name?"

"Of course. Z28. Everyone knows it. By the way, my name is S5. It's a honor to meet you."


"Hey, tell me something, when you first got your big grille back in 1970 was it liked right away."

"Well, it's a little hard to remember that long ago, but I think it was. What about yours?"

"Well, now it's a hit, but back in 2006 when my brother, the A4, got his facelift it was pretty radical. I mean, it wasn't hated like the Bangle Butt or anything like that, but people were a little taken back by it. But that's not surprising, you know how those humans are."

"Tell me about it."

"Speaking of humans, here comes mine now. I'll bet you ten bucks it dials up Playboy radio on the way to work."

"Really is he warped like that?"

"That's just the tip of the iceberg. He's a freak."

"Well, it was nice meeting you."

"You too. And don't let those four-speeds bother you. Six aren't all they're cracked up to be. Bye."

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 15,298 miles

Sweet Comfort

January 22, 2010

Hate to admit it, but I'm officially old. I like our long-term 2009 Audi S5 in Comfort mode. It rides a little nicer, the throttle isn't as sensitive and the steering isn't as heavy. Just call me grandpa.

Truth is the Audi's Dynamic mode feels a little forced to me. The throttle tip in becomes so aggresive it's almost impossible to change gears smoothly, the steering heavies up pointlessly and takes on an artificial feel and for me the ride becomes almost crude with too much surface intrusion. To use a technical term, it becomes jiggly.

I'll leave the Dynamic mode for younger staff members. Meanwhile, I'll keep the S5's keys in my pocket. I've signed out the Audi and its Comfort for the weekend.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Cool Reflection

January 25, 2010
Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

Beautiful Design — And I Can Still See Out of It

January 26, 2010

Clearly, I don't spend enough of my time in our long-term 2009 Audi S5 coupe. I like the way this car sounds, I like the way it feels and I like — and have always liked — its understated design inside and out.

And perhaps what is most remarkable about the A5/S5 design is that this coupe looks beautiful, yet I can still see out the back, over the hood and around the A-pillar. That's quite the deal, especially right now when highly stylized retro designs and pedestrian protection requirements are conspiring to turn coupes into land-based submarines.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

Even Bums Like It

January 26, 2010

So I'm driving to work through the bohemian village of Venice Beach. Windows are down. Sun is shining. And here he comes. I'm the third car in line at a red light and the homeless gentleman that calls this paticular intersection his place of residence is making a beeline for the rich guy in the fancy red car. My open window might as well be a formal invitation for free grub and a bottle of Thunderbird.

We lock eyes. He holds up his sign for my reading pleasure. It says something about being hungry.

Light is still red.

"Nice car," he says to me. "Love the color."

"Thanks," I say. "When will this freakin' light change," I think.

"Hey," he says taking a step closer. "It really is beautiful, but an M3 will still eat its lunch. It'll be a real shame if they don't bring in the RS5."

Stunned, I reply something lame like, "I agree" as I fish in my pants for a few bucks.

True story.

Even the bums are car guys in So Cal.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 15,524

The Sun is Shining and I Got the S5

January 27, 2010

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

The Passenger

January 29, 2010

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

Worth the Walk

February 01, 2010

After getting the S5 cleaned up over the weekend, it looked too good to get swiped by some contractor in a dually, so when I stopped by the local Lowe's to buy a few things I decided to put it where it would be safe.

That meant a slightly longer walk to the store, but it was worth it. Trust me, seeing that thing sitting out in the lot on the way back made me remember why people buy cars like the S5 in the first place. If I could, I would.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line

Does Riswick Fit?

February 02, 2010

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

Eight In One Hand, A Half-Dozen In The Other

February 03, 2010

I couldn't believe it when Audi first announced that the S4 would trade its V8 for a force-fed six. And I couldn't believe it again when I heard the S5's V8 was also on its way out (the S5 Cabriolet only offers the 3.0-liter supercharged V6, and the S5 coupe will may follow suit for 2011). Audi's 4.2-liter V8 is one of the best engines I've ever experienced, from the S4/S5 versions to the 420-horsepower R8 tune. It's the primary reason why the S5 is cooler than the 335i. What was Audi thinking?

But then I drove the 2010 S4. Ah. That's what they were thinking. What Audi's done here is create a considerably more fuel-efficient motor (27 mpg highway — same as my '01 Prelude — vs. 22 mpg for the S5 V8) without sacrificing a whit of performance. The engines are very similar in the way they build power, too: flat torque curves, linear acceleration, instantaneous throttle response (the supercharged six's sharpness must be felt to be believed). They're like two different flavors of the same product.

Personally I'd get a 2010 S5 while I could. One thing a six will never do is sound like a V8, and the S5 4.2's refined burble with the windows down is a thing of beauty. But Audi has really worked wonders with that supercharged motor. The S5 3.0T might still be cooler than the 335i; in fact, it definitely will be if BMW can't keep the N54's throttle lag out of the new single-turbo N55.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor @ 15,905 miles

Road Trip to Sweden!

February 03, 2010

Look how great our long-term 2009 Audi S5 looks parked in Gothenburg, Sweden, with a layer of snow on it. Oh, wait, no V8 badge on the quarter panel. And the sidewalls, they're kind of like, uh, sidewalls. And... only 2 exhaust pipes in back. OK, so it's an Swedish-spec A5 and it's not even ours. But still, it's stunning, and it's the only A5/S5 I've seen after 2 1/2 days of wandering in Gothenburg (or rather, Goteborg), which is of course Volvo's company town.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor


February 08, 2010

We had a company lunch last Friday, pizza and salad. As I was eating my sixth slice, someone asked me what test car I would be driving over the weekend. "S5," I answered.

Another co-worker at my table said, "I almost bought that car."

I replied, "Yeah, and?"

"The sunroof doesn't open," she asserted.

That was that. She ended up in a two-door 3-series.
For some people, fresh air is a matter of paramount importance.

For me? Don't care — I don't want to muss my coif.

And you? Will you, too, be like Liz Lemon and cry, "Dealbreaker!"

(Blue non-long term Audi A5 with moonroof pictured)

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 16,150 miles

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

The Class of the Strip

February 15, 2010

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.

Using the Multi-Media Interface's big rotary controller to scroll through iPod menus and destination options can be a bit clunky at times, but given the broad functionality here, I'd rather have MMI than not have it.

In addition, I found MMI useful for managing time with a destination entered in the navigation system. The time counter is far more accurate than most I've encounted, and I did indeed return to LA at about 2:25 p.m.

My fuel economy on the trip back was identical to my mileage on the trip there, so over 570 miles, the S5 averaged a respectable 20.6 mpg.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 16,722 miles

Not a Bad View If It's Yours

February 16, 2010

Aside from that stupid plant in the way of course. I almost walked outside to move it but figured that might be pushing the bounds of long-term photo orchestration.

Anyway, the point here is that the Audi S5 makes for some superior eye candy no matter where you park it. Had I not drove to the restaurant in the car itself, I would have sat through my entire dinner wishing I had. It's just one of those cars that makes you start running numbers in your head to see if maybe, one day, with the right finagling of your bank accounts, you too could manage one for yourself. I know I have and that doesn't happen very often.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line

Upside Down and Backwards

February 18, 2010

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 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.

The sunroof shade is likewise odd. Rather than pulling it towards the windshield to close it, you have to push it towards the rear of the car. One may argue, what's the difference? Either way, you're moving the shade to and fro. But for some reason, it's easier to pull it towards the windshield to close it, rather than vice versa. Maybe because you can grasp the front of it with your thumb as you pull it towards the windshield, something you can't do when pushing it towards the back. But look on the bright side — at least you're giving your triceps a little workout in the process.

Hey, when a car is this good, there's not much to complain about...

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 17, 197 miles

Effortless cruising

March 01, 2010

Made a quick trip to Vegas over the weekend for a friend's birthday celebration in our long-term 2009 Audi S5.

And it's a great car for a highway trip with a controlled ride that's not too firm, and that terrific 4.2 V8 with more than enough power. If you get stuck in stop and go traffic (inevitable) that doesn't come to a complete stop, you can lug the engine in 2nd and the engine will pull without protest. You can also climb moderately steep grades at speed in 6th without the need for downshifting, something our long-term Challenger doesn't like.

I met several people out in Vegas, one of whom was lucky enough to fly on his friend's Citation bizjet. The S5 is like your own personal land-based aircraft, cruising effortlessly and quickly with style.

But I would have rather flown on the bizjet too.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer at 18,200 miles

Is It Good to Drive Alone?

March 03, 2010

I enjoy driving alone. And I enjoyed my solo business trip to Vegas in our long-term 2009 Audi S5. Not all cars are good for solo driving, mind you. The S5 fits the bill, because it is quick and capable of turning a corner with haste and grace. Also, as mentioned many, many times, its 4.2-liter V8 sounds terrific. There's a big sensory component to driving this Audi and all these little things occupy the mind and keep the long, straight highways from being boring.

There are other cars in our fleet, though, that I don't like driving alone. And it's not just the ones with weak performance, either. Our underpowered 2009 Suzuki SX4 wore on me, sure, but I also don't care to be alone in our BMW 750i. I drove the latter to Albuquerque and back, and I've rarely felt lonelier. I never drove it after that unless I knew I was going to have a passenger. Somehow, the big 7, though fast and agile for its size, just wasn't enough of a friend.

Here's my list of current long-term cars that I like driving alone:

2010 Mazdaspeed 3
2009 Audi S5
2009 BMW M3
2009 Dodge Challenger R/T
2009 Honda Fit

Any thoughts on what makes a car good for solo road trips? And which car would you choose from our fleet, or your own fleet?

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

Why Won't You Tell Me What I Already Know?

March 05, 2010

For $60,000 I expect to get some redundancy out of a car. The fact that I know that track three is Jusiamere Farm off the album Howls From the Hills is besides the point - I want the car, this $60k German uber-coupe, to tell me that too. Hell, for that price, I want the album artwork ghosted behind the text as well.

Normally I wouldn't even notice the lack of album information but I played this same CD in our Challenger earlier this week and it gave me all the information, track names, album title and artist.

So I guess the Dodge is more advanced than the Audi...

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 21,610 miles

Speakers are No Substitute for a Real V8

March 07, 2010

Driving through some tight canyons this weekend in the S5 reminded just how fun it can be to play with its well-tuned V8. On and off the throttle, the S5 booms, hums and gurgles as good or better than just about anything out there. Windows up or down, it's a nice little bonus.

It reminded me of the recent introduction of the Lotus Evora Hybrid concept. In addition to its advanced drivetrain, the concept also features an audio system that can pipe in driver-selectable sounds in an attempt to mimic the exhaust wail of a real V6, V8 or even V12.

A nice thought maybe, but I doubt it will be much of a substitute for the real thing. Noise from speakers in the dashboard and noise from an engine bolted to the chassis are two very different things. Maybe some drivers won't even know the difference, but they won't know what they're missing.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 18,342 miles

Comes With The Right Connector

March 15, 2010

Our Audi S5 has this handy dandy mesh bag in its glovebox which contains interchangeable connectors allowing it to interface with virtually any MP3 player. Minijack, USB, mini USB, iPod, doesn't really matter what you need to connect, the S5 has got you handled.

Very nice.

Oil Level

March 17, 2010

I don't really consider myself a member of the International Dipstick Lovers Society, but our long-term 2009 Audi S5 has me considering an application for instatement.

It was easy enough to find the oil level menu in MMI, but I found it strange that what you see above was displayed, oh, four minutes after shutting down the fully warmed engine while parked on level ground.

So I re-started it for a bit and re-checked again a couple minutes later. Same screen. Hmm.

Maybe I'm doing it wrong. So I *gasp* consulted the owner's manual. To check the oil. Yes, you read that correctly.

Here's what it said:

No surprises here. Hmm. So I checked Hal one last time, and was rewarded with some kind of success:

Couldn't it just have displayed this screen in the first place?

A normal dipstick is fine with me. Call me a luddite if it makes you feel better.

Now send me my IDLS badge. And get those damn kids off my lawn.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Tire Check before Road Trip

March 22, 2010

This week I'm rolling to Vegas in our long-term 2009 Audi S5 again, this time to attend the
CTIA Wireless conference.

I decided to check the tire pressures before I went. The tires are high-po Summers sized 235/35ZR19 96Y all-around.

I was surprised to see that the fronts want 39 psi! That's the highest I've seen for a passenger car.
Do you know of another car that takes that much air?

Another surprise was the Mercury content on the S5, which I think would be common to many vehicles. Who knew?

Catch the CTIA coverage this week on Straightline.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 19,200 miles

Satellite Radio has Expired

March 26, 2010

When I got into our long-term 2009 Audi S5 for my trip to CTIA Wireless in Vegas this week, I tried the satellite radio and was greeted with this screen: our subscription has expired.

Regular readers know that this means two things: 1. The test term of our vehicle is also about to expire; and 2. If you take a long drive, you have to bring along your iPod.

The thing is, I prefer satellite radio to the iPod. So much so that I don't even own an iPod.
I like how with satellite radio you can always get pleasantly surprised by a song that comes up on your trip, and the variety of stations and genres that are available.

With the iPod, even if you have a million songs on it, there are no surprises with the playlists because you loaded them all.

So I planned on bringing some good-ole fashioned CDs for my trip, but of course forgot them.
I had to listen to — FM radio!

How about you? Anybody else out there who shuns the iPod?

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 19,400 miles

Stalk Cruise Control is Easy

March 29, 2010

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

20,000 miles

April 01, 2010

We made it. After 11 months with the 2009 Audi S5 we finally broke through the 20,000-mile mark. It happened at 75 mph on the highway, so we missed the money shot. But in truly un-S5-like fashion, we snapped this shot at the drive-through for In-N-Out Burger. Boo for us. Hooray for Double-Doubles.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 20,019 miles

The V8 Lives, For Now

April 05, 2010

There was some disheartening talk earlier this year that Audi was going to drop the V8 from the S5, something about the supercharged V6 having just as much horsepower and better mileage.

Well, cooler heads have prevailed apparently as the S5 coupe has won a reprieve and will keep its V8 for the time being we're told. Other rumors say that the even more powerful RS5 might be on the way.

I couldn't be happier. I've driven the S4 with the supercharged V6 and it is exceptional, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't want to have the choice. The V8 is such a different driving experience in terms of feel and sound. Trust me, it's highly addictive with enough seat time and something I would probably pay up for at this point. Actually, I would probably wait for the RS5 instead, if you're going to get a V8, might as well go big.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 20,110 miles

Expensive Car, Cheap Floormats

April 12, 2010

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

Non-iPod Interface

April 20, 2010

Who the hell uses something other than an iPod? I'm not really sure, actually, at least for MP3 files. However, I have a portable satellite radio.

Wait, doesn't the S5 have Sirius? Why yes it does, however, the MLB channels have not yet made the migration over there from XM. As such, I still need my Samsung Helix ... and a standard auxiliary audio jack to plug it in.

Thankfully, Audi provides a variety of different audio connections with its multi-media interface (though I'm not sure what the other ones in that little mesh pouch are for). The iPod wire popped out with a few tugs and the standard 3.5mm connector replaced it easily. As a bonus, Audi built in that little holder onto the glovebox door, which fit my Helix perfectly.

Of course, that iPod wire is far too short. How are you supposed to grab that from the driver seat (and sorry, that's a problem even if you're doing it while stopped)? It's not that big of a deal when listening to a baseball game, but even then, it requires that I leave the glovebox door open. If I were to drive the car more (or with a passenger) I'd have to buy an aux jack extension thingy from Radio Shack, but still, at least I get to listen to my baseball game.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 21,031 miles

Such a Sleeper

April 22, 2010

After all these months, I still can't believe the 2009 Audi S5 looks like this (beautiful, refined, understated, clean...) yet sounds like a muscle car. I lightly blipped the throttle during a downshift on the way to work, and the exhaust note was every bit as deep and yummy as if I'd done it in our Camaro or Challenger.

For those who can spend $60 grand (and I know that's no small sum), is there a better sleeper performance car out there right now?

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

Lights Out!

April 26, 2010

Our long-term Audi S5 lit up a warning light the other day. Ironically, in this case the warning light was telling me about an exterior light being out, but it didn't specify which one.

I'd seen this warning icon a few days earlier and forgot to check it. By the time I finally remembered the warning icon was out, so I figured it was a fluke (or maybe a loose bulb).

This morning the little light bulb with an "X' through it returned, and before I turned the car's engine off or turned out the lights I parked the S5 and did a quick walk-arould. It didn't take long to spot the problem.

At least it's not a headlight issue, but we'll get the car in for a lightbulb repair in the coming weeks.

Shooting and cropping these photos also reminded me of just how elegant Audi headlights look these days. Is there a car company out there doing better headlights? I don't think so.

Karl Brauer, Editor at Large @ 21182 miles

One Great Car That I'll Miss

April 27, 2010

Last night was probably the last time I'll drive our S5, and that made me sad. It's time with us is winding down, so I gave it a good shake-down run on my favorite roads above Malibu. What a great car. What a great sound. That's all I can say. Here are some outtakes from my first S5 blog post last July. I'm going to go curl up in the trunk and weep.

Mark Takahashi @ 26,225 miles

Makes Me Feel Successful

May 04, 2010

The other day I let my neighbor Bill drive our long-term 2009 Audi S5. He had been asking for a while and caught me in a weak moment, so I threw him the key.

Like most poeple that drive the V8-powered coupe, he loved it. But he expressed in a way I hadn't heard or really considered before. "When I'm in it," he said, "it makes me feel successful. Like I made the right decisions in my life. It feels like a reward for all my hard work."

I couldn't agree more.

Too often these days people think about cars as conveyance and not as a pleasurable part of daily life. People that do are missing out. More of them should sample an Audi S5.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

Parts Counter Experience

May 11, 2010

Karl first noticed the turn signal bulb was out in our 2009 Audi S5. We had our sights set on a DIY change so we stopped by the dealership to order a new one. While there we also planned to order up a new set of floormats.

"Oh. We're going to have to special order that bulb," started the parts counter clerk. "We have everything else, just not the bulb you need. These floormats will need to be ordered also." The ETA was two days and we could live with that. So we asked him to order them up. "No problem, sir. I will call you when the parts arrive. The front mats will cost $170 and the bulb is about $20."

The mats showed up on time but still no bulb. It's been a week now. I hope it shows up before the car is scheduled to be turned in.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 22,141 miles


May 25, 2010

Editor in Chief Scott Oldham didn't share the keys to our 2009 Audi S5 often. Who would blame him? One morning he came into the office and confessed, "I let my neighbor, Bill, drive our long-term 2009 Audi S5."

Oldham continued his story: "He loved it. Bill told me, 'When I'm in it, it makes me feel successful. It's like I made the right decisions in my life. It feels like a reward for all of my hard work.'

"I couldn't agree more," Oldham said. "Too often these days, people think about cars as conveyance and not as a pleasurable part of daily life. People who do are missing out. More of them should try the Audi S5."

Why We Got It
In 2008 Audi introduced the all-new Audi S5 to the U.S. This performance coupe catered to American tastes with elegance, charm and a 354-horsepower, 4.2-liter V8. Audi built the S5 for life at speed on the open highway, a high-performance version of the A5, the first Audi coupe in decades. But there was a problem: We couldn't get our hands on a 2008 Audi S5. Audi later announced the S5 would carry over unchanged into the 2009 model year and we seized the opportunity to add a 2009 Audi S5 to our long-term fleet.

We had our eye on the S5 since it first won a 2008 Inside Line Editors' Choice Award. But then Audi told us that the V8 was on its way out for the S5 and would be replaced by a new, supercharged V6 introduced in the S4 that offered much better fuel economy than the V8 and almost (almost?!) as much power. This made us nervous. If the V8 wasn't going to survive into 2010, then we better get into one now.

There were many reasons we decided to get a 2009 Audi S5; style, power and comfort all ranked highly. But most of all, this is the car with which Audi hopes to capture the market position carved out by the BMW 3 Series coupe. So when Audi offered us the car for a year, it didn't have to ask us twice. It soon found its way into our garage.

We stood divided when it came to our reaction to the way the S5 went down the road. A clear majority praised it as the best road-trip car in our fleet. Lead Senior Editor Ed Hellwig broke in the S5 on a trip to Colorado. He wrote, "It's an exceptionally quiet car on the highway. The V8 hum that you hear at idle disappears at higher engine speeds, so phone calls and 'The [Howard] Stern Show' on the satellite radio sounded great." Senior Editor Erin Riches offered similar praise following a run to Las Vegas, "The S5 is quick and capable of turning a corner with haste and grace. Its V8 sounds great. There is a sensory component to driving it that occupies the mind and keeps even the long, straight highways from being boring."

Nevertheless, a vocal faction within our ranks felt the S5's stop-and-go demeanor was nearly a deal-breaker. "This drivetrain isn't for wimps," the bunch quipped. One editor added, "Clutch-pedal uptake is long with an abrupt engagement point. I find myself riding the left pedal more than I feel comfortable with in order to complete a smooth shift from a stop. I'm going to guess I'm not alone." But even the dissenters agreed: "No matter how frustrating the 2009 Audi S5 might be to manage in rush-hour traffic, when the road clears, it becomes a completely different machine. Set the steering to dynamic, the suspension and throttle to comfort and point me to Vegas. This car is spectacular."

Twelve months of service generated a short list of issues with the S5. Interior materials, including its black-leather seats, proved impervious to wear. A mystery tear in the driver floor mat was the only item of note. But mats are installed for the purpose of being worn, so we didn't hold that against the Audi. There was another, more significant issue that arose. A pronounced vibration in the steering wheel at freeway speeds concerned us. The same symptom not-so-coincidentally developed in our long-term Audi A4 Avant. We worked with Audi of America and Santa Monica Audi to resolve the issue, which apparently had fielded similar complaints. With spin-balancing for the tires, about 90 percent of all issues were resolved, Audi told us. But we fell into the 10 percent that also required stiffer lower-front control arms to deliver the refinement we expected.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 12 months): $448.76
Additional Maintenance Costs: $596.18 for tire replacement and front floor mats
Warranty Repairs: Lower-front control arm replacement
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: 1 for control arm installation
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None

Performance and Fuel Economy
Our first test of the 2009 Audi S5 left us impressed. The 3,900-pound S5 reached 60 mph from a standstill in 5.2 seconds (5 seconds with 1 foot of rollout) and completed the quarter-mile in 13.5 seconds at 102.6 mph. From 60 mph the S5 returned to a stop in just 110 feet. All the while, this sport coupe maintained 0.92g of lateral grip on the skid pad before its tires cried uncle.

But time and mileage took its toll on the performance of our S5, as there was a significant decline in performance registered in our test at the conclusion of the S5's term with us. Under acceleration to 60 mph, the Audi proved 0.6 second slower, while the same margin held to the end of the quarter-mile: 14.1 seconds at 99 mph. Senior Road Test Editor Josh Jacquot lamented, "This clutch is obviously tired. It won't hold power at high rpm for a clutch drop with the stability control off, which prevents a good launch and quicker acceleration numbers." Brake stopping distance also grew to 120 feet. Jacquot continued, "The brake pedal feel is still good. Fade resistance is still good. But what happened to the distance?"

Dynamic testing provided the clue. Slalom speed actually improved from 66.8 mph to 68.6 mph over time — the kind of thing that we attribute to tire wear. New tires are sticky, and this contributes to shorter stopping distances, but the relatively tall tread blocks squirm under cornering loads, and this means less grip as the tires flex back and forth between transitions. Conversely, our S5's tires had 22,000 hard miles, which meant less stick under braking, yet also less tread squirm and so, better slalom speeds. (This is part of the reason why racers of showroom stock cars shave down the tread of their new street-spec tires.)

On the other hand, skid pad testing is more of a steady-state evaluation. The tire tread basically rolls to one side and remains pinned while the vehicle circles, so wear and stick are less of an issue. In the case of the 2009 Audi S5, this explains why its final test on the skid pad returned cornering grip identical to its first: 0.92g.

Best Fuel Economy: 22.3 mpg (326 miles on best tank)
Worst Fuel Economy: 10.8 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 16.4 mpg

Retained Value
Our long-term 2009 Audi S5 arrived one year ago with a "52" emblazoned on the odometer and a $61,915 adhered to the window. By test end, both the mileage and value fluctuated by over 20,000 — only in opposite directions.

According to Edmunds TMV Calculator, a private-party sale of the S5 garners the seller just 67 percent of its original MSRP. This level of depreciation is on par with that of a similarly equipped BMW M3 coupe. If you're in the market for either, resale value will not be a deciding factor. But reading our comparison of the two could help your research.

True Market Value at Service End: $41,493
Depreciation: $20,422 or 33% of original MSRP
Final Odometer Reading: 22,141

Summing Up
We've made up our minds. Cash in the 401(k). Send the kids back to public school. Take out another mortgage on the house. We'll do what it takes to get a V8-powered S5. As it turns out, Audi agrees with us because the V8 is still part of the S5 program, thanks to the enthusiasm of all of you.

We can cite numerous reasons as to why an S5 is worth our hard-earned cash. But more than any other, this car reminds us of our love of driving. It can induce a smile merely by glancing in your direction. Its engine is so melodic that the windows remain permanently submerged within the doors. It is the kind of car that makes you want to take the long way home.

Lead Senior Editor Ed Hellwig said it well: "I would tell anybody who's thinking about buying a 2009 Audi S5 to do it now. They're not getting much better than this."

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.