Test Drive: 2008 Audi S5 coupe

New high-performance midsize coupe combines stunning performance with eye-catching profile, marred only by an eccentricity or two

by James M. Flammang

2008 Audi S5 coupe

For the first time since 1991, Audi is offering a two-door, four-passenger coupe in the U.S. market. Two of them, in fact: an A5 with V-6 power and an S5 that contains a potent V-8.

Style takes precedence over the powertrain, however. This Audi exhibits one of the most elegantly graceful profiles that can be found today. Midsize in dimensions, it features lush yet subtle lines that call out for attention - but in a quiet and restrained manner, not with a shrieking scream. Audi notes that former design chief Walter Silva called the S5 the "most beautiful design [he'd] ever created." It's hard to argue with that evaluation.

Inspiration for the design comes from Audi's Nuvolari quattro concept car of 2003. Audi advises that the engine has moved closer to the vehicle's center, to allow a shorter front overhang and "optimized axle load distribution" for improved handling characteristics. Asymmetric quattro all-wheel drive is standard on both the A5 and S5.

Manual-shift S5 coupes went on sale in November, priced at $50,500 (plus $775 destination charge). The S5 with a six-speed Tiptronic transmission, and all A5 models, will not reach dealerships until spring 2008. The A5 will sticker for $39,900 (plus destination charge) with the six-speed manual gearbox. Tiptronic adds $1,300 to the price of either model.

Audi's A5 coupe holds a 3.2-liter V-6 that produces 265 horsepower. Under the S5 hood, a 4.2-liter V-8 generates 354 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 325 pound-feet of torque at 3500 rpm. According to Audi, an S5 can accelerate to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, versus 5.8 seconds for the A5.

Alloy wheels on the S5 hold 19-inch performance tires, whereas the A5 rides on 18-inch tires. Leather-covered power front seats, three-zone automatic climate control, Siruis satellite radio, and a rain/light sensor for automatic lights and wipers are standard on both A5 and S5 coupes. Options include a $2,390 navigation system, a 505-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system for $850, and Audi's side assist system at $500. A $1,700 Technology package includes a parking-assist system with rear-view camera, adaptive headlights, and Advanced key operation.

Note: Full S5 report, including Driving Impressions, will be posted shortly.

Attention Editors: The complete 2008 Audi S5 review is available now for your publication. Please contact us at JF@tirekick.com for details.

© All contents copyright 2007 by Tirekicking Today
Text and photos by James M. Flammang
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