2009 Audi S5: 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