Posted Nov 22nd 2012 11:57AM
It's hard to believe, but 2013 marks the sixth model year for the Audi S5 (it launched as a 2008 model). I've loved this coupe since the day it debuted, but if I'm honest, the thing that really made the S5 special at launch was the awesome 4.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 found underhood. You know, the one from the old RS4. And the R8.
Audi started building S5 Cabriolet models with a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 starting in 2010, and for 2013, that super-six is the only engine available. Don't get me wrong, I like the 3.0T engine. (Oh hey, Audi, please stop calling it a 3.0T. There isn't anything 'T' about it.) And I've said plenty of nice things about this mill in my reviews of the A6 and A8. But do those same sentiments carry over to the S5?
- In terms of power, there's nothing to complain about here. The 3.0T Quattro engine 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque – the same numbers as all other 3.0T-equipped cars. Compared to the old 4.2-litre, that's down 21 horsepower (the torque number remains unchanged), but fuel economy is improved by 11.4 L/100km (3 mpg EPA) in the city and 15.1L/100km (4 mpg) highway.
- Despite the reduction of 21 horses, Audi still claims a 4.9-second 0-60 mph 90-96 km/h) time for the 2013 model – same as a 2012 S5 with the 4.2-litre.
- That said, getting to 60 mph (96 km/h) isn't nearly as dramatic in the new car. Perhaps the best part about the S5 4.2 package was the fact that you could rev the naturally aspirated engine all the way up to 7,000 rpm, and the noise it made was just awesome. No, there wasn't a ton of low-end power, but man, that engine was seriously fun to play around with, especially above 3,500 rpm.
- I do like that with the Audi Drive Select (part of the Driver Assist package), one of the things you can adjust in the 2013 S5 is the exhaust note. Put it in dynamic mode and there's definitely an audible grumble coming out of the back, and it sounds really good if you're hard on the throttle. It doesn't quite have the same roar as that old V8, but it's a lot better than what originally came on the 3.0T Cabriolet. There's a whole lot more low-end torque with this new motor, though it doesn't rev quite as high.
- So no, the S5 isn't quite as tantalizing with its more flaccid mill, but it's hardly impotent on the road. The Quattro all-wheel-drive formula is still top-notch, and the optional 19-inch wheels and summer tires of this test car and in grip while cornering.
- With the car's other adjustable functions in dynamic mode – powertrain, steering, etc. – the S5 is absolutely fantastic to drive. The steering has great weight and crisp turn-in (though it does feel a bit dead on-center), and suspension damping isn't at all harsh but offers a ton of feedback. The brakes are great, and though there's a good deal of travel to the clutch pedal, the six-speed manual transmission is still all sorts of sweet to use.
- Inside, there's more to love. Quality and materials are top notch, and the seats are both comfortable and supportive, while looking great in the process.
- Audi hasn't yet updated the A5/S5 with its new MMI Touch interface, but the navigation system in our Prestige model did have the cool Google Earth mapping display. We've played with this before, but it still has that gee-whiz coolness about it, simply because no other automaker is offering something like it.
- Other updates for 2013 include the revised front fascia with new headlamp clusters. Audi pioneered the LED daytime running light hotness, and the new shape to the front graphic is pretty great. LED lights are fitted out back, as well. Also of note is the new Estoril Blue color seen in these photos. It's damn pretty, and photos don't do it justice.
- The 2013 S5 is still a truly sweet package, but starts at $55,900. Meaning people seeking a true enthusiast machine would do better with a lighter, quicker, more powerful BMW M3. But with the beauty of Quattro on hand, handsome good looks and a high-quality interior, the S5 has a lot going for it. Now if it just had the 4.2...