The 2018 Audi S5 Coupe and Cabriolet (convertible) bring well-judged upgrades of power, handling and equipment to the already excellent A5. If anyone has only recently returned to Western civilization after several years in a remote Himalayan monastery, the A5 is based on the A4, an all-new generation of which debuted for the 2017 model year, and every variant is receiving rave reviews.
Part of the S5 formula includes a ride height that’s lowered by around one inch (compared with the regular A5), the front air intakes are bigger, while aerodynamic body pieces and sport seats have been fitted. But fear not, they’re still comfortable. The rest of the interior is simultaneously elegant and welcoming, while offering up-to-the-minute technology.
Fuel consumption is relatively reasonable, considering this is a performance machine with a fantastic turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. There are selectable driving modes that change the responses of the throttle, steering system and transmission. Add the optional adaptive suspension, and those modes encompass ride qualities from comfort to sporty.
With a fixed roof or a soft top, the S5 is an effective and attractive package.
What’s New for 2018?
Everything. The S5 is all-new for this model year.
What We Like
Sharp styling; refined interior; confident driving experience; turbocharged V6 acceleration
What We Don’t
Only the top trim is eligible for advanced driver aids; steering somewhat lacking in feel
Both versions of the S5 have a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 generating 354 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles is standard, along with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption for the coupe at 21 miles per gallon city, 30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. The cabriolet’s fuel consumption is 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 4-seater 2018 Audi S5 coupe and cabriolet are available in Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. The coupe body style gets a panoramic sunroof (tilt only), while the cabriolet has a power-operated fabric roof.
The S5 Coupe in Premium Plus trim ($55,575) includes 18-inch alloy wheels wearing summer performance tires, a panoramic sunroof, full LED exterior lighting, rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, heated windshield washer nozzles, keyless entry/ignition, hands-free trunk release, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, selectable driving modes, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather/Alcantara (simulated suede) seating surfaces, 12-way power-adjustable/heated/massaging front seats with active bolsters and driver’s-side memory settings, ambient LED cabin lighting, a self-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, parking sensors front and rear, forward-collision mitigation, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and Exit Assist, a 7-in display for the infotainment system, 10-speaker audio setup, Bluetooth phone and music streaming, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, CD/MP3 player, satellite/HD radio, two SD card slots and two USB ports.
The S5 Coupe in Prestige trim ($59,975) adds navigation with an 8.3-in screen, handwriting recognition for controlling the infotainment system, a head-up display, a top-view camera system, Wi-Fi, Bang & Olufsen 755-watt/19-speaker audio system and the Virtual Cockpit (12.3-in configurable driver information display).
The S5 Cabriolet in Premium Plus ($63,275) and Prestige ($67,675) trim levels have comparable equipment to their fixed-roof counterparts with the obvious exception of a powered soft top that provides excellent noise and temperature insulation, takes no more than 17 seconds to come up or down and operates at speeds of up to 30 mph. These cars also have wind deflectors.
Prestige trim is eligible for a Driver Assistance package that features adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam Assist (a partially autonomous system that steers and brakes in stop/go conditions), active lane-keeping, automatic high beams and road sign recognition.
Some standard equipment in the Prestige version is available as extras in the Premium Plus. Other options include a sport adaptive suspension, a sport rear differential, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, 19-in and 20-in alloy wheels, high-quality Nappa leather upholstery and variable ratio steering.
Trunk space in the coupe is 11.6 cu ft.; 9.3 cu ft. for the cabriolet. Both cars’ rear seats will also split and fold for some extra space and flexibility.
The S5 comes with standard stability control and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. The coupe has eight airbags (front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain), while the cabriolet has six airbags (front, front knee and front side). The cabriolet also comes with automatic pop-up rollover protection.
Neither version of the S5 has been crash-tested by any North American agencies. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the regular 2018 A5 coupe a top overall rating of five stars, with four stars for front impact protection and five for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has also named the 2018 A5 coupe a Top Safety Pick Plus after the car earned the top score of Good in all the major categories.
Behind the Wheel
Confidence. It’s everywhere in the S5, from the rapid acceleration to the decisive braking feel, from the resistance to body roll in the corners to the traction and grip of the all-wheel drive system. Keeping the engine between 1,500 rpm and 4,500 rpm is a generously sized sweet spot where power delivery is particularly smooth and responsive.
In most conditions, the all-wheel drive system sends 60 percent of engine power to the rear wheels, imparting an appropriately sporty feel. If circumstances dictate, however, up to 85 percent can be directed to either axle within milliseconds. The optional (and highly recommended) sport rear differential can even split torque between the wheels on the back axle, enhancing the car’s considerable cornering abilities.
Chances are the optional 19-in and 20-in wheel/tire combinations won’t help ride comfort, but the S5 has the obligatory premium-car suppleness over rough pavement. Most manufacturers struggle to provide a natural steering feel since adopting electrical assistance as the norm. Audi does fairly well in this respect, but a little more tactility would be welcome. Don’t let this be a deterrent, though; the S5 is still an awesome driver’s car. But it can also be a luxury conveyance at the same time.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 BMW 440i — Has a blend of sportiness, style and luxury that cements it on any potential buyer’s short list.
2018 Chevrolet Camaro SS — Less expensive than the S5, but with a mighty 455-hp 6.2-liter V8, a resonant exhaust note, plus surprisingly entertaining and capable handling.
2018 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 — Slightly more powerful, with 400 hp. However, this coupe doesn’t compare well with the S5 in almost any other way.
2018 Mercedes-AMG C 43 Coupe or Cabriolet — 362-hp variants of the still-fresh C-Class. Both are excellent machines.
Buyers considering an S5 can probably stretch to the Prestige trim, in which case add the Driver Assistance package.