The premium compact sports coupe segment is shrinking. Once awash with players, many of them, such as the Infiniti Q60 and Lexus RC, are no longer in contention for class honors and the new W206 Mercedes-AMG C43 is not yet offered with two doors. That leaves us with essentially a class of two, the Audi S5 Coupe quattro and the BMW M440i Coupe, the latter available in both rear- and all-wheel-drive xDrive formats. The Audi brings a 349-horsepower V6, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and quattro AWD to the party and follows the current Audi "S" template of being well-rounded and refined rather than overly sporty, for better or worse. Is the edgier BMW what owners prefer in this in-between semi-sporty niche of the market, or will the elegant but aging Audi prevail?
The new 2023 Audi S5 Coupe undergoes a few changes for the new model year. The Bang & Olufsen 3D sound audio system that used to be standard on the Prestige trim only is now also fitted by default to the mid-range Premium Plus trim. Adaptive cruise control is added to the list of features contained in the base Premium trims' optional Convenience Package. The Black Optic Package is replaced with the Black Optic Plus Package; it is optionally available on the Premium Plus and Prestige trims and extends the exterior blackout treatment to all the exterior badging, the exhaust tips, and the rear lip spoiler. These two trims get a new optional Audi Sport Interior Package that decks out the interior in black with extended red stitching, also on the steering wheel. Last of all, Quantum Gray is discontinued and replaced with Chronos Gray. The S5 Coupe goes on sale in the USA at a starting price of $55,300 for the Premium trim.
Elegant, sporty styling
Punchy turbocharged V6
Very good handling and road-holding
Smart, high-quality interior
Less fun and exciting than most rivals
Too much tire noise
In-cabin storage nooks lacking
The separate infotainment touchscreen looks tacked on
See trim levels and configurations:
Considering its positioning as a fast coupe, the 2023 S5 Coupe is an unexpectedly refined car, with an unobtrusive engine note and compliant suspension, although tire noise intrudes a bit on the highway. Add rather uncommunicative steering and the S5 comes across as a little aloof, lacking the boisterousness of the BMW M440i xDrive. So, it comes as a surprise that the S5 Coupe displays such fine body control and high grip levels around corners, not lapsing into a mess of understeer but blitzing the line flatly, even without the optional S Sport adaptive suspension and rear diff. Its ride/handling balance is so good, you won't miss this package, but it can be added for that sporty focus the normal S5 lacks. We'd skip the oddly unpredictable variable-ratio Dynamic Steering though. Performance from the 349-horsepower/369-lb-ft turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 is better than expected. It launches with enthusiasm, its 4.4-second 0-60 time only narrowly losing to the M440i xDrive's 4.3, despite a 33-hp power deficit. Thank the snappy eight-speed auto, sorted quattro AWD, and slight weight advantage over the mild-hybrid BMW.
The slightly soft-spoken S5 Coupe is not as instantly aggressive as the M440i with its bucktooth grille and tense, alert, demeanor, and that might count against it in this class. But therein lies its charm and most onlookers would prefer its appearance to the controversial BMW's. There is a distinct lack of rivals in this space and a review of the Audi S5's competitors reveals that the only one of note is the M440i. The Mercedes-AMG C43 is not yet offered in a new-gen coupe and the old 205-based coupe is now old hat. So too are the aging Lexus RC and Infiniti Q60. Whether the S5 Coupe does enough to finish first in a two-horse race is up to you, but we think its excellent handling, refined ride, and elegant appearance might just win the day.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Audi S5 Coupe: