by Adam Lynton
The luxury sport coupe segment is dominated by German offerings such as BMW's 4 Series and Mercedes-Benz's C-Class. These are cars that offer striking looks, great comfort and strong performance at mid-tier pricing. The 2019 Audi S5 slots in between the standard A5 and the ballistic RS5 in terms of pricing, performance, and features, and comes in fresh from a 2018 redesign. The 2019 S5 is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 that boasts 349 horsepower, Audi's quattro AWD system, and a 4.4-second 0-60 mph time. Audi's superior build quality and stunning interior design are a continual highlight, as is the virtual cockpit, but the S5 Coupe is slightly let down by conservative styling and numb steering feel. The 2019 S5 Coupe is priced from $52,400, making it one of the more affordable luxury sports coupes on the market. Can a competitive price tag and a great interior be enough to persuade buyers to get in the S5 Coupe and not in the more driver-focused 4 Series?
For those who want to add some extra presence to the S5 Coupe's exterior, the Black optic package now includes 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 265/30 R20 performance tires as well as titanium black and high gloss exterior trim. The 2019 S5 is safer thanks to the inclusion of blind-spot monitoring in the Convenience package that comes standard on Premium Plus, and Prestige trim levels. The top of the line Prestige trim now comes standard with park steering assistance and rear cross-traffic alert.
See trim levels and configurations:
The S5 brands itself has a driver-focused version of the standard A5 coupe and does a convincing job of driving fast through twisty bits of road. The steering weight goes through appropriate shifts in resistance when selecting comfort or dynamic driving modes, but there is little road feedback sent back to the driver. The dynamic steering package makes everything feel overly assisted and unnatural, but that doesn't mean that the car is terrible at going through bends…
Even in dynamic mode, with the suspension at its most aggressive setting, this Audi offers tons of grip and a sharp turn-in that almost conceals its nearly 4,000-pound curb weight. The sports-orientated drivetrain and suspension setup doesn't undermine S5's ride quality, which is silky smooth, but opting for the more prominent 20-inch wheels can unsettle the S5's ride on rougher road surfaces. Audi's 19-inch wheel option should be considered the best compromise. Brakes on the S5 are competent, thanks to a six-piston caliper in the front. Brake feel is good, even under heavy use, and regulating brake pressure is done with ease.
Thanks to a recent redesign, the S5 is in prime fighting condition and comes packed with class-leading tech and safety features. The basic recipe of the S5 is one that strikes a good balance between outright performance, everyday practicality and comfort, but doesn't entirely draw as much attention as the bolder offerings from BMW and Mercedes. From the outside, the S5 looks fresh, although it won't turn as many heads as the BMW 440i xDrive. The understated look has a large fanbase, as does the interior of the S5, where it becomes apparent that Audi remains unrivaled for its quality of cabin architecture. The interior is a mixture of beautiful design and functionality, all wrapped up in premium materials that cocoon you like a lovely smelling scarf. Audi's MMI infotainment system is a pleasure to work with, as is the 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display. The S5 might not be the quickest kid on the block, but that force-fed V6 offers more than sufficient power, and inexperienced drivers will have to treat it with respect. A pleasantly understated package in a class that tends to focus on garish visuals and loud noises is appreciable, but many may lament the lack of involvement, leaving the S5 as more of a quick GT than a bona fide sports coupe.
Things the S5 and 440i have in common: a 3.0-liter turbocharged engine, an eight-speed auto transmission, all-wheel-drive, and a combined fuel consumption figure of 24mpg. That is where the similarities come to an end, though. The BMW has a slightly larger fuel tank and a considerably larger trunk even though it's a smaller car overall. BMW also offers more front and rear legroom and is 20 lbs lighter than the S5. Both cars present a long feature list and good safety levels. The BMW isn't as powerful as the Audi but remains a more engaging vehicle to drive, and you can get the BMW in rear-wheel-drive guise, too, presenting an even sharper driving experience the S5 can't match. Audi's S5 does a better job of keeping its occupants comfortable over long distances. The pricing on the BMW 440i starts at $51,350, making it cheaper, and making it our pick for a premium sports coupe.
The AMG C43 is a more expensive car, starting at $57,450, but the money gets you an extra turbo strapped to the 3.0-liter V6 as well as one extra gear in its automatic transmission. Fuel economy takes a slight hit, but that compensated for by a considerably more powerful engine than the S5's, while like the Audi, all-wheel-drive is standard. The C43 offers similar levels of interior room and cargo space, and while the Audi may offer more tech inside, the C43 just feels more opulent. Its high purchase price is justified by a more powerful engine and a good list of standard features, as well as marginally more driver involvement with equal amounts of performance. The C43 has a little more emotion, which could be the deciding factor, but both are incredible all-wheel-drive coupes.
The most popular competitors of 2019 Audi S5 Coupe: