The 2014 Audi S5 may not have a V8 engine anymore, but it's doing just fine without it. As great as that buttery 4.2-liter V8 was, the supercharged 3.0T V6 gets much better fuel economy, and that's the name of the game these days. But it's not all about saving the world; the 3.0T is also a fantastic high-performance engine. Its throttle response is instantaneous, so there's no delay like with a turbocharged engine, and its power delivery is linear and relentless.
What we have here, then, is a drop-dead gorgeous coupe or convertible (Cabriolet) that goes fast, isn't bad on gas and, oh yeah, cossets its riders with one of the nicest interiors around. Yes, we miss the V8, but we also badly want a S5 with the supercharged V6.
This is not a car to hem and haw over. It's a car to lust after.
What's New for 2014?
The S5 gets keyless entry/ignition, Audi drive select (allowing you to tailor steering and transmission settings to your preference) and an optional Black Optic appearance package.
What We Like
Head-turning styling; satisfying supercharged V6; high-class interior; plenty of technology options
What We Don't
Cabriolet's soft-top is relatively insecure and doesn't seem to save much weight.
The 2014 Audi S5 is powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 333 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. A precise 6-speed conventional manual transmission is standard on the coupe, with a highly responsive 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual offered as an option. The Cabriolet, meanwhile, comes only with the automated manual.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the coupe with the automated manual returns a solid 18 miles per gallon city/28 mpg hwy, while the 6-speed manual regresses to 17 mpg city/26 mpg hwy. The Cabriolet nets 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The S5 coupe and convertible (Cabriolet) are offered in two trim levels: Premium Plus and Prestige.
The Premium Plus ($52,895) includes 19-inch alloy wheels, quad tail pipes, xenon headlights with LED accents, LED taillights, fog lights, keyless entry/ignition, a panoramic sunroof (coupe only), a power-operated vinyl roof (Cabriolet only), Napa leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, sport front seats, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, Bluetooth and iPod integration, the Multi-Media Interface system with a dash-mounted control knob and a 10-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input, an SD card reader and satellite radio.
The Prestige ($54,295) upgrades to adaptive xenon headlamps, a blind spot warning system, keyless entry with push-button ignition, MMI Plus with navigation and a console-mounted joystick knob, and a 14-speaker, 505-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system.
Note that the Cabriolet is a few thousand dollars more expensive than a comparable coupe.
MMI Plus (with available Audi connect telematics) can be added to the Premium Plus as an option, as can the Bang & Olufsen stereo. A sports rear differential with side-to-side power distribution is available on both trim levels. Exclusive Prestige extras include adaptive cruise control and power rear sunshades. The Cabriolet's Comfort package adds heating vents at the top of the front seats for comfortable top-down driving in chilly weather.
The S5 comes with standard stability control and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. The coupe gets six airbags (front, front side, full-length side curtain), while the Cabriolet gets four airbags (front, front side).
The S5 has not been crash tested yet, nor has the A5 on which it's based.
Behind the Wheel
The 3.0T V6 has the same torque rating as the discontinued V8, though horsepower is down a smidge. No matter: Acceleration is intense, and the supercharged 6-cylinder responds with as much immediacy as its predecessor. Like the A5, the S5 has a confident, almost invincible feel at speed. The main handling difference comes courtesy of the S5's optional sports rear differential, which really does mitigate the nose-heavy S5's tendency to understeer, even if rear-drive machines such as the M3 remain sharper. Although the standard 19-in wheels don't do the ride quality any favors, the S5 still exhibits that typical Germanic suppleness over rough pavement. More natural-feeling steering would be nice, but that's hardly a deal breaker.
Other Cars to Consider
BMW 435i -- The new 3 Series coupe is no longer a 3 Series, technically, but it's still got that special combination of performance and refinement.
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG -- Now available as a coupe (but not as a convertible), the rowdy C63 is more expensive than the S5 but also more desirable.
Infiniti G60 -- A G37 by another name, the G60 packs a serious V6 punch, and it's cheaper than the Audi if you choose wisely.
The S5 is at its most beautiful as a coupe and, call us old school, but we're fans of the precise manual shifter that's shared with the S4. We'd also want the sports rear differential and MMI Plus with Audi connect, though we know all that stuff doesn't come cheap.