by: Mike Ginsca
The Audi S5 is a relatively new model in Audi’s lineup that was first introduced in 2008. While it may seem like it is a competitor to the iconic BMW M3 it is in fact a competitor for the BMW 335xi. So how does it compare to the BMW? Read on.
Performance – In the power category, the Audi does very well. Where the BMW has to make do with only 300hp from its turbocharged inline-6 engine, the S5’s V8 produces 354hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Essentially it is the same 4.2L V8 that is found in the Audi RS4 but detuned a bit to produce more torque and be more city friendly. The engine is unbelievably smooth and responsive from idle to the 7000rpm redline. It also produces one of the nicest sounds that you will ever hear as it works its way up to the redline. In a straight line, the S5 completes the standard 0-100km/h test in under 5 seconds and it will go on to an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. Unfortunately the 6-speed automatic transmission (not dual clutch) does hamper the engine’s explosive performance a bit. In some situations the transmission feels dumb and slow to respond to downshifts when you put your foot down on the accelerator pedal. Apart from that, it is like any other automatic transmission, smooth and fairly quick shifting but not as quick as Audi’s DSG dual clutch.
Driving around corners, the big Audi shows its weight and gets left behind by the nimbler BMW 335xi. Although both have all-wheel-drive, the BMW weighs approximately 150kg less than the S5. Not only does the weight affect the driving dynamics of the Audi but also how the steering feedback feels. In the BMW, the steering feel is perfectly weighted, very responsive, and you can feel through the steering wheel what the road surface feels like. In the Audi however, the steering feels artificial and, depending on the driving conditions, sometimes it feels too light while other times it feels too heavy.
Comfort – In the comfort category, the Audi begins to draw back some ground on the BMW. Compared with the same model year BMW, the interior of the Audi S5 is much better styled and overall a better place to be in. It has a very well insulated cabin that keeps out intrusive city noises and the quiet interior gives the car a feeling of exclusion and isolation. Although this car is equipped with 19” wheels and low profile tires, the ride quality is magnificent. The suspension and seats absorb bumps and make it feel like you’re driving on clouds. The rear seats however do not offer much room for adults and the sloping roofline means that headroom is nearly non-existent. Best thing to do is to fold the rear seats down and add more room to the already massive trunk space.
The fit and finish of the cabin is second to none. Compared with the same model year BMW, it looks as though the Audi is well into the 21st century while the BMW is still in the 20th. The buttons on the center dash are well positioned and easy to understand but my only peeve about it is that the controls for the navigation and MMI (Multi Media Interface) should have been placed on the center console rather than the center dash. It is less of a stretch if they were on the center console and these few buttons and knob will be the most used of any of the other functions in the car.
Odds and Ends – As a coupe, this car can turn a few heads. The large grille, aggressive headlight design, and subtle body lines keep onlooker’s eyes glued to the car. The exterior styling gives the car a sense of luxury and exclusivity that the BMW can’t match nor can any other German manufacturer. Although it may not be quite as sporty as the BMW, I wouldn’t blame anyone for choosing this S5 over the 335xi because in the end it is more luxurious, better styled, and it makes an intoxicating V8 soundtrack.
Thank you to Autoform Performance Inc. for providing the car.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.