2009 Audi S5: 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