Audi S5 review 2021

The S5 is a sporty mid-size model that brings extra performance to the A5 range

£25,699
Average price
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2
Out of 5

Pros

  • High-quality interior
  • Strong performance
  • New diesel is quite frugal

Cons

  • Slow automatic gearbox
  • Expensive to buy
  • Rivals are more fun
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model review

Audi’s ‘S’ models have always sat in that middle ground between its regular cars and spicy RS versions, and that’s definitely the case with the S5, which is able to combine strong performance with comfort, everyday usability, and relatively affordable running costs. 

The S5 first arrived in 2007, hot on the heels of the standard A5, which brought sleeker coupe styling to the Audi line-up, though the range would later be expanded with a Cabriolet model and a roomier four-door Sportback ‘coupe’. 

The S5 actually arrived with a rather sizeable 349bhp 4.2-litre V8 – a similar unit to that found in the brand’s RS models at the time – though a more sensible 3.0-litre V6 would replace it a few years later. 

In 2016, the second-generation of the S5 would launch, gaining a far more modern interior with the latest technology, as well as more space inside. The second-generation also gets a far classier and elegant exterior design. 

In a bizarre move, the S5 actually became a diesel model in 2019, with Audi introducing a range of S models powered by this fuel at the time. Here, it’s a powerful V6 unit that produced close to the same level of performance as the petrol it replaced, while featuring mild-hybrid assistance for greater efficiency.

Latest model

Audi subtly updated its S5 at the start of 2020 at the same time as the A5. Design changes include standard-fit LED headlights and a more prominent front end with a larger grille and more noticeable air inlets. 

Elsewhere, it featured the firm’s latest touchscreen system, using a new 10.1-inch media display and standard-fit digital dials. 

Value for money

Unsurprisingly given the S5’s performance and quality, it’s not a model that you’d class as a bargain. For a new car you’d need to spend a steep £53,995 for the standard version, though equipment is very generous – including 19-inch alloy wheels, electric massaging front seats and a brilliant touchscreen and digital dial system. Prices rise quite significantly for the top-spec Vorsprung model, though, which costs a steep £66,595. 

In terms of used prices, the cheapest early S5s are now available from under £7,000, which certainly gets you a lot of car and performance for the money. That budget will need to be increased to £12,000 or so before you can get a low-mileage example, though. Meanwhile at the time of writing, around £25,000 would be needed to buy a second-generation example. As for nearly-new models, you can expect to save as much as £10,000 off an example under a year old with only a few thousand miles on the clock. 

Looks and image

The A5 – and therefore the S5 – is arguably one of the best-looking Audis you can buy today, with its sleek styling really looking the part, even next to somewhat more modern rivals. S5s also offer subtle sportiness thanks to a slightly more angular front-end, though it’s not a model that shouts about its performance in the way some rivals do, and that’s one of the key attractions to choosing an ‘S’ over an ‘RS’. 

The inside is a similarly classy affair, with the A5’s cabin being one of the best in this class, with its brilliant blend of quality and technology. The ergonomics are great too, while the layout is fantastic to use. It certainly feels just as premium as its price suggests.

Behind the wheel, though, some might be left feeling underwhelmed. The switch to diesel – especially at a time when the fuel is falling out of favour with buyers – is an interesting one, and will likely have put off some buyers. That said, the engine itself is smooth, while a sportier exhaust system means it doesn’t sound anywhere near as diesel-y as you might expect. While comfortable and refined, though, it lacks the sharpness and enjoyment you get with a rival like the BMW M440i.

Space and practicality

With a choice of the standard S5 Coupe and roomier Sportback that gets two extra doors, there are two clear options to suit buyers. 

If you rarely carry rear passengers, the Coupe will be more than adequate, with plenty of space up front, while should you occasionally have rear passengers, it’s not too bad in this respect, though adults might feel a bit claustrophobic. The Sportback’s additional doors and slightly elongated design make it the best option if you do need that rear space, though.

In terms of boot capacity, the regular A5 still offers a large 480 litres, while the Sportback offers similar. However, because of the more practical hatchback opening of the four-door version, it makes it the more useful choice. 

Engines

Today, all S5 models feature a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 TDI diesel engine, which is combined with an eight-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox that sends power to all four wheels with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system. 

It kicks out an impressive 336bhp, while a huge 700Nm of torque actually makes it rather quick – the sprint from 0-60mph taking just 4.4 seconds, making it one of the quickest diesel production cars ever made. The top speed is also capped at 155mph. 

If you want a petrol S5, though, you’ll need to buy a pre-2019 car, which instead uses a 349bhp 3.0-litre TFSI petrol engine, which is again all-wheel-drive and uses an eight-speed automatic transmission. Here 0-60mph takes 4.5 seconds, while flat out it will also reach 155mph. 

Running costs

One of the key advantages to making the S5 a diesel is efficiency. So despite the impressive performance on offer, Audi claims it can still return almost 40mpg, while CO2 emissions of 186g/km aren’t bad at all. 

It’s worth noting that the petrol S5’s efficiency figures might not look too bad on paper, they’re based on the old efficiency testing cycle, which isn’t as accurate as the system used today. 

Things to look out for

Newer S5s have a decent reliability reputation, but you should be aware that some models have been hit by software issues, which can result in some of the model’s many tech features not working as they should. It’s worth making sure everything works properly before buying, and investing in an aftermarket warranty if Audi’s three-year, 60,000-mile cover has run out. 

Rivals

Key rivals for the Audi S5 include BMW’s M440i and the Mercedes-AMG C43, though both of these cars feature petrol engines. If you’re wanting something a bit more spacious to rival the S5 Sportback version, a Jaguar XE, BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Alfa Romeo Giulia are all worth consideration. 

Depreciation

As with the majority of premium models, the S5 is hit by steep initial depreciation, particularly in that first year of registration. It could be worth considering buying a nearly-new model for this reason, as after this the S5 does tend to hold onto its value quite well, particularly if you’re thinking you’ll keep the car for a number of years. 

Trims explained

Audi offers a choice of three trim levels on the latest S5, with equipment highlights and prices as follows.

S5

The latest S5 comes with a generous amount of standard equipment, including 19-inch alloy wheels. LED headlights, Nappa leather sports seats, electric front seats with massage function and aluminium interior inlays. It also gets three-zone climate control, LED interior lighting, a 12.3-inch digital dial system and a 10.1-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation and smartphone mirroring. Elsewhere, the S5 features a 10-speaker sound system, wireless smartphone charging, cruise control, keyless entry and front and rear parking sensors.

From £53,995

Edition 1

Upgrading to the Edition 1 brings larger 20-inch alloy wheels, Matrix LED headlights and a black styling pack that includes a darkened grille, window trim surrounds and door mirrors. Piano black interior inlays feature, too.

From £55,995

Vorsprung

At the top of the range, the Vorsprung gets a whole manner of standard equipment, including matt titanium 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive sports suspension, a sports differential, a panoramic sunroof and heated front and rear seats. It also comes with a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, a multi-coloured LED interior lighting pack and keyless entry. In terms of standard equipment, it also gains adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, a 360-degree camera system, park assist and a head-up display.

From £66,595

Summary

  1. Strong performance
  2. Coupe and Sportback available – Convertible was discontinued in 2018
  3. Sold as a petrol from 2007 to 2018…
  4. Diesel became the sole engine option from 2019 onwards
  5. High-quality interior
  6. Comfortable and refined
  7. Not as exciting as rivals to drive
  8. Generous amounts of standard equipment
  9. Great touchscreen and digital dials
  10. An upmarket and quick sports coupe

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