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.
Audi has been designing clean-cut cars for decades, but ever since the B8 generation of A4s, Audis have taken on a more formal and elegant look that works well in a class overrun by beefy and brawny looking modern muscle cars. The S5's silhouette is classic sports coupe through and through. Sweeping lines from front to rear are intersected by touches of angular aluminum and polished plastics to give a uniformly mature look and feel to the exterior. Full LED headlights and taillights are standard across the S5 range, as are 18-inch alloy wheels, a body-colored trunk lip spoiler, side sills, and rear exit quad exhaust ends. As the middle child of the A5 range, the S5 looks purposeful enough for those who are in the know but will fade into executive obscurity when parked in an uptown mall parking lot.
The 2019 S5 Coupe rolls on Volkswagen's MLB Evo platform that it shares with several other Audi and Volkswagen models, including the A4. Dimensions for the redesigned S5 mirror pre-refresh numbers so expect decent, instead of class-leading space. The S5 Coupe is 184.7 inches long, 53.9 inches high, and 79.9 inches wide. That makes it one of the longest, yet lowest cars in its class. The S5 Coupe rides on a 108.8-inch wheelbase, shorter than the 2019 BMW 4 Series' 110.6-inches or the AMG C43's 111.8-inches. Audi's S5 Coupe weighs in with a curb weight of 3,847 lbs, 20 lbs more than the BMW 440i xDrive Coupe and 22 lbs heavier than AMG's C43 Sedan.
Keeping up with the business class appeal of its S5, Audi has chosen nine unostentatious exterior colors that compliment the clean lines and do well to hide the S5's performance potential. New owners will be able to have their S5 Coupe in colors including Brilliant Black, Quantum Gray, and Ibis White at no additional cost, while metallics like Glacier White, Mythos Black, Tango Red, Navarra Blue, and Daytona Gray Pearl add $595 to the overall price. The S5, and most modern Audis in general, lend themselves well to darker hues of silver and gray, and in the case of the Coupe, Quantum Gray or Daytona Gray Pearl does a great job of highlighting subtle curves and corners. For those seeking exclusivity, a range of outrageous Audi Exclusive paint options adds $3,900 to the price, with colors as customizable as you wish.
The 2019 S5's performance can be described as violently discrete. The combination of smooth power delivery, imperceptible gear changes, a surplus of mechanical grip, and a well-insulated cabin translate into a car that will flatter most drivers. Stomp on the loud pedal, and you'll be greeted by a few split seconds of inaction, before the mighty Teuton lunches forward with notable speed. Straight-line speed is on par with the rest of the class, and the S5 will get from 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds. Keep your foot on it and you'll be surprised at how fast the 155mph limiter is reached. With standard all-wheel-drive, there's all-season grip too, while BMW's 4 Series offers AWD, but only as an extra with RWD being the default setup.
Gone are the days of large naturally-aspirated V8s. In 2019 we are finding more and more force-fed V6s and four-cylinder motors. What these modern engines lack in outright character, they make up for inefficiency and immediate power delivery. The all-aluminum, twin-scroll turbocharged V6 found in the 2019 S5 delivers 349 hp, supported by a significant 369 lb-ft of torque between 1,370 and 4,500 rpm. The S5 Coupe sends its power to all four wheels via a ZF eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that shows slight signs of hesitation at low speeds but enacts lightning-fast gear changes once on the V6 engine spins into its torque band. The lack of a manual transmission option shouldn't dull the appeal of Audi's S5, a car that has always been more of an athletic grand tourer than a track toy.
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.
The 2019 Audi S5 Coupe has an EPA rated fuel consumption figure of 21/30/24 mpg city/highway/combined. Those aren't bad figures considering the other numbers involved: a 349hp turbocharged V6 powering along 3,847 pounds worth of car. The BMW 440i xDrive equals those claims, and the Mercedes AMG C43 is slightly thirstier at 19/27/22 mpg despite offering 36 more horsepower and 15 lb-ft more torque. Audi has fitted the S5 Coupe with a 15.3-gallon fuel tank, giving it an estimated range of 367 miles.
Audi has created a beautifully modernistic interior that continues with the understated exterior's theme of less is more. The S5 Coupe's interior feels more executive that its contemporaries, with class-leading fit and finish. Audi's genius behind the interior design and layout is only realized when you're on the move: button layout is grouped logically, and all other inputs are controlled via the MMI infotainment wheel, which means you rarely have to look down to find what you're looking for. Of course, Audi equips its signature virtual cockpit on higher trims, giving the S5 even more technological advancement than what rivals offer. Visibility is average for a car of this class due to the thick roof pillars, which is a common feature amongst the S5's competitors and a crucial structural rollover safety feature. The optional top camera system adds a bunch of new camera angles that will come in handy when you're in a tight spot and need to park without embarrassing yourself.
Getting into the S5 Coupe is made more accessible by wide-aperture doors, and once seated, handy seatbelt presenters make reaching back a thing of the past. Access to the rear seats is a less elegant affair, requiring back seat passengers to squeeze and dip below the S5's rather low slung roofline. Finding a comfortable driving position won't be challenging when you're presented with a twelve-way power-adjustable driver seat, with four-way lumbar adjustment and pneumatic side bolstering. The interior layout draws focus to the driver, as this is a driver's car after all, but manages to remain airy and open, especially in the front. Front passenger legroom measures 41.3 inches, ample even for taller drivers, but not class-leading. The headroom in the front is good, but the slanted roofline of the S5 cuts off a good amount of space for back seat passengers. The S5's seats are supportive and prove comfortable over long distances and short excursions, but the S5 only seats four.
An executive coupe deserves premium interior materials, and boy has Audi delivered. Standard S sports seats are upholstered in black perforated Milano leather with rock gray stitching and Alcantara inserts, but buyers can opt for Rotor Gray leather, too, as well as an all-leather option for $1,000. Higher trims unlock Magma Red Nappa leather with Granite Gray stitching, as well as a choice between brushed aluminum and carbon fiber decor inlays, while the Premium only receives the aluminum option. Optional on the upper two trims, less supportive sports seats are an option in the Warm weather package, upholstered in black Milano leather with Rock gray stitching.
It might look like a bigger car thanks to its sleek profile and large doors, but the S5 is based on the MLB platform car, so it is basically the same size as an Audi A4. The 11.6 cubic feet of trunk space pales in comparison to the 4 Series' 15.7 but is larger than the AMG C43. The somewhat compromised trunk space does, however, come with a flat loading floor and split rear folding seats that turn the svelte S5 into a rather practical everyday car. You'll be able to fit around 30 standard real estate agent sales boards, a fold-up chair and a small table stand in the back of the 2019 S5 Coupe. You won't find much space to store your personal item bar the glove box and center console.
Not only does the 2019 S5 offer buyers a lot of standard technology, but it also makes it easy to use. For 2019, the standard features list includes LED head and taillights, power-adjustable side mirrors, heated and power-adjustable front seats with massage functionality. Automatic three-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, cruise control, 12-way power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are some of the interior highlights. Higher spec Premium Plus cars get wireless phone charging, comprehensive navigation and a serious upgrade to the infotainment system. The Prestige model benefits from the addition of several electronic safety systems such as adaptive cruise control and parking assist. Inside the Prestige gets a head-up display and a trick camera system, while the upper two trims also get Audi's fully-customizable virtual cockpit, displaying everything from gauge readouts to navigation, all in the driver's instrument binnacle.
The MMI infotainment system found in the 2019 S5 Coupe has evolved over the years, and can now be considered to be one of the best systems of its kind. On the base Premium model, the system comprises a seven-inch display screen that's connected to Audi's music interface. There are two USB ports, and the system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. The seven-inch display is on the smaller side, but the image quality is crisp, and selecting and scrolling through menus is a breeze thanks to the intuitive MMI navigation cog mechanism. When you step up to the Premium Plus, the infotainment system gets a significant upgrade. Not only does the MMI display screen grow to 8.3-inches, but you also get rear USB charging ports, a 90-day SiriusXM trial, and most importantly, Audi's brilliant virtual cockpit display system that uses a 12.3-inch display screen to present all your navigation, infotainment and other settings. The full-house Prestige trim model sounds better thanks to a Bang & Olufsen sound system that uses a 755-watt amp with 19 speakers and 3D sound to turn the cabin of the S5 Coupe into an opera house, or Madison Square Garden, depending on your choice of music.
The current S5 Coupe forms part of the new B9 family and has up until now only been affected by a few recalls, with one for 2019 models pertaining to shock absorber forks that may crack. But only 34 vehicles are affected, and the recall includes the Q7, Q8, and S5 Cabriolet as well as the Coupe. As far as warranty coverage, Audi will cover you with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty as standard, while you also get your first scheduled service for free, a 12-year corrosion warranty, and Audi roadside assistance for four years.
The 2019 Audi S5 Coupe has not been crash-tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS, but the base A5 Coupe has been evaluated by the latter, with scores that should translate accurately to S guise. On the IIHS rating scale, the S5 scored top marks in almost every category but missed out on receiving a Top Safety Pick award. The LED headlights that come standard on the S5 only managed to achieve the second-worst score available, Marginal.
Base model safety features on the S5 Coupe include a reverse camera, ABS, eight airbags including driver and front passenger knee bags, and traction control. Audi's pre-sense basic and pre-sense city tech is also present and monitors activity in front of the car. If the pre-sense system should pick up a potentially dangerous scenario unfolding in front of the vehicle, it will alert the driver via a warning tone. A second warning comes in the form of a brief jab on the brakes. Partial braking is the final stage of crash prevention and is only activated in case the driver fails to react. The Premium Plus and Prestige models feature added safety systems. The Premium Plus gets full side and rear pre-collision warning and semi-autonomous crash avoidance, while the Prestige model benefits from a head-up display unit that keeps all vital info in front of the drivers' eyes. The Prestige can recognize traffic signs; it will let you know when the best time is to change lanes, and it will even adjust your headlights automatically according to driving conditions.
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.
Audi's 2019 S5 Coupe is competitively priced for the executive coupe class. The Premium S5 forms the base of the lineup and starts with an MSRP of $52,400. The middle of the range Premium Plus is a big step up in terms of standard specification but comes at a $4,400 premium for a total of $56,800. At the top of the pile sits the S5 Prestige, which sees the asking price step over the 60k mark. You'll pay $60,500 for the privilege of owning one. These prices exclude a destination charge of $995 and any options which quickly see the price soar in typical German fashion.
You can have the 2019 S5 Coupe in three trims: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige.
You'll find that the Premium base model isn't shy on features, and even gets massage function front seats S Sport seats with 12-wat power adjustment and heating. Standard features include full LED head and taillights, 18-inch alloy wheels, climate control, and a panoramic sunroof. Inside you get a seven-inch display screen that displays all your infotainment and navigation information.
Premium Plus trim brings a host of infotainment and safety tech to the party. Firstly, and most importantly, the infotainment system gets a significant upgrade in the form of a larger 8.3-inch display screen, as well as a 12.3-inch screen that displays Audi's virtual cockpit info. You also get full navigation, handwriting recognition, USB ports for rear passengers and advanced parking assistance.
The Prestige trim adds the cherry on the cake by including a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, head-up display and futuristic safety tech such as traffic sign recognition.
Starting with the Premium trim, you can opt for a $1,500 Convenience Package that adds an alarm system, keyless start/stop and auto-dimming exterior mirrors. You also get a memory function for the driver's seat, a three-month subscription to SiriusXM, and rear pre-collision warning. The Premium Plus and Prestige can be specced with the S Sport package that gets you adaptive sport suspension, a trick rear diff, and painted brake calipers, all for just $2,500. Also available on the Premium Plus and Prestige is the Black optic package that, for $2,200 will throw a set of 20-inch wheels at the S5, as well as a few black exterior trim pieces. Other options worth mentioning are the $1,000 elegant Nappa leather seats, and the $550 warm weather package that ventilates the front seats, while conversely, the cold weather package gives you a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.
The S5 in base trim is an impressive offering, and Audi has done an excellent job of presenting the Premium with enough standard specifications to keep even a tech-savvy driver pleased. The Prestige adds an $8,100 premium on top of the base model's asking price for what is essentially a more thorough safety package. The Premium Plus S5 offers the best value for money and includes the best infotainment system available for the range, bar the Bang & Olufsen sound system which can be added for $950. The Premium Plus gets a larger 8.3-inch display screen, Audi's 12.3 -inch virtual cockpit display as well as an alarm system, wireless phone charging, driver's seat memory and two USB ports for back seat passengers amongst others. The $4,400 premium is well worth going Plus, but we'd also recommend the addition of the S sport package, as the adaptive damping an quattro sport rear differential sharpens handling for the keener driver.
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.