A completely new model, the Audi S5 is the top of the 5 Series, a brand new range which is filled out with the A5 models. All look very similar, and provide good performance in a neat package. Stiff competition for the BMW 3 series coupe, but can it compete with the BMW 650i, Jaguar XK or Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG? Possibly.
In any event, the Audi S5 is a sleek looking coupe, with a front end reminiscent of the R8, and a semi-fastback roof line, and just discernible swept lines up and over the front and rear wheels. It is a smart looking car, and one that will blend in well at the country club. Like almost all Audi designs, the S5 and A5 are smart, balanced designs with some neat features, but there is nothing shocking, nothing very exciting about the shape.
V-8 power, 354 bhp
But what about performance? Well, Audi has picked its V-8 to give enough power to see off many competitors, although this is not the most powerful version of this superb engine. For the S5 it is rated at 354 bhp at 7,000 rpm, with 325 lb ft (440 Nm) torque at 3,500 rpm, against the 420 bhp of the RS4.
So it is not as fast as it might be, but still packs plenty of oomph, taking the S5 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, which is true supercar territory, while top speed is limited to 155 mph. This really puts it up with some heavy metal, although it is nowhere as quick as the Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG, which has 480 bhp on tap from a massive 6.2 liter engine.
On the other hand, the straightline performance of the Audi A5 is slightly better than that of the BMW 650i and Jaguar XK, and up there with the likes of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and Porsche 911 Carrera.
The V-8 is coupled to a six-speed manual box in the S5. More important, Audi has adopted a front:rear torque split of 40:60% for the center differential. This means that in the normal state the car will not understeer strongly like the front-biased split of some Audi quattros. This means the car will handle nearer neutral, which is good.
Also new is the double-wishbone front suspension and trapezoidal multi-link rear suspension which will ensure good tracking and handling.