2018 Audi A5 and S5 First Test Drive

The 2018 Audi A5 comes some 9 years after the first Audi A5 was first introduced in 2007. At the time head designer Walter DaSilva proclaimed the vehicle the most beautiful car he had ever penned.

Given the public’s thirst for A5’s and resounding sales figures since, the 2 door coupe certainly hit a chord with the buying public. Following up on that success is no easy feat. Redesigning an icon is a dangerous proposition.

2018 Audi A5

For the all-new 2018 Audi A5, Audi wisely chose to let the styling evolve with sharper edges and a stronger muscular physique. Starting upfront, the large single frame grill has been widened and flattened. The front end now seems much lower and streamlined. Moving backwards, the engine hood has been emphasized with a bulging centre section, giving the impression of an oversized engine beneath. Sculpted lines flow backwards down the side panels to the redesigned three dimensional LED tail lights.

In Canada and the US, power for the new A5 comes from a massaged 2.0 TFSI. The venerable 2 litre turbocharged engine is now rated at 252 HP, an increase of 32 HP. The power increase is accompanied by a reported 22% improvement in fuel economy.

Inside the A5 cabin, Audi virtual cockpit and the new flat dash architecture has migrated over to the new sport coupe. The virtual cockpit is based on a 12.3 inch LCD screen that can be customized to show a variety of displays including Google maps GPS data with speed and rpm overlays.

The flat wide dashboard is the latest masterpiece in Teutonic design. The 8.3 inch TFT LCD infotainment screen rises from the centre of the dash and can be stowed for esthetic reasons if you don’t require the display or perhaps you’ve configured the Virtual cockpit to suit your needs.

Every new Audi comes with a familiar boast, new lightweight design. Once again the new A5 follows the game plan and a redesigned chassis using lightweight materials manages to cull up to 60 kilos of weight from the vehicle.

2018 Audi S5Also introduced at the event was the new Audi S5 coupe. The S5 shares the styling revisions but adds a more aggressive treatment to the front end, flared wheel arches and larger tires to handle the additional power.

The S5 adopts the 3.0L V6 found in the S4 recently tested in Frankfurt. The replacement of the previous generations supercharger with a dual scroll turbocharger is the most obvious change. The truth is, the engine may share its displacement with the earlier generation engine but this is an all new power-plant.

The materials used are lighter and the design has been altered. The intake manifold now forms part of the head assembly to reduce un-needed metal components. The turbocharger also sits in the middle of the V created buy the two engine banks. The engine output rises from 300HP in last year’s model to 354HP and 389 lb-ft of torque. The torque curve has been flattened with maximum torque now available at 1300 RPM all the way up to 4500 rpm. This impressive power curve eliminates turbo lag. Incredibly fuel economy has been improved by 5%, now 7.3L per 100 kms based on the European test cycle. I imagine that figure doesn’t reflect trying to match the S5’s rated 4.7 seconds to 100 kms/hr acceleration time.

On a potentially sour note for old school enthusiasts, there will be no manual transmission offered in North America. The A5 with the 2.0L TFSI engine is paired with a 7 speed S-Tronic dual clutch gearbox. The S5 will be matched to an eight speed Tiptronic sport tuned automatic gearbox. When questioned about the seemingly reversed application of transmission choice, we were told that the additional power of the turbocharged V6 was better suited to the Tiptronic gearbox. Both transmissions shuttle power through Audi’s Quattro all wheel drive system.

On the road the S5 is a beast, with the additional horsepower and readily available torque. We put the A5 and S5 through their paces on an extended haul through the Douro Valley in central Portugal. The extremely tight turns, most blind with no guard rails to compensate for your over enthusiasm, led to atypically cautious manners during early driving. The 90 km/hr speed limits at first seemed comical till you encountered locals accustomed to daily travel on the tight hairpin corners. With Audi’s Drive Select vehicle management system now standard on all A5 and S5’s, drivers get to set up the throttle response, suspension or exhaust note to their liking. Drivers dictate just how much drama they want to deal with.

Grudgingly I have to admit, I was unable to fault the S5’s Tiptronic transmission on the challenging up or down hill runs on these precarious mountain roads. Whenever needed, the power train was locked into the correct gear for the situation. Pouring on power allowed the Quattro all wheel drive system to push/pull the car through the tightest of corners.

2018 Audi S5 stylingWithout having the previous generation car to compare with in back to back driving, the best I can say is that this is a sharp handling car with precise steering response, exceptional handling and gobs of power on hand for the S5. The A5 comes with more than enough power for spirited driving. The new, sharper, aggressive styling just adds more appeal to the package.

The new Audi A5 and S5 build on the cutting edge styling and performance of the first generation of this groundbreaking sports coupe.

Look for the new 2018 A5 and S5 to be coming to Canadian showrooms in the Spring of 2017. Prices have not been announced but if history is any indication prices won’t vary vastly from current model list prices.