With so many vehicles these days, choosing winners for our annual Drivers’ Choice Awards is usually pretty difficult. But one of the easiest we’ve made in recent years is our pick for 20-17’s best sport sedan, the Audi A4. It has the perfect play of luxury, technology, and of course performance. And, now, it’s time to see if Audi knows how to share the wealth.
The A4’s chassis is not only capable, it’s flexible, with more than enough beef to handle whatever Audi engineers feel like throwing into it.
It was a given that Audi would follow up their latest A4 sedan with a coupe, and indeed they have, the 2018 Audi A5.
But, what about an even more practical side of the car equation? Well, they’ve also added a fresh 5-door hatchback with more cargo flexibility. And, also offered it in a higher performance variety with true Grand Touring flair. That would be the 2018 Audi S5 Sportback. So, let’s start there.
We know that Audi’s S-line has always well-straddled that middle ground between the standard A cars and the ultra-high performance RS’.
And, the S5quattro powertrain follows that creed to the letter. Its response is fantastic. Flog it, it goes; providing seamless power for seemingly days.
The 3.0-liter turbo V6 that makes it happen is not new of course, but has been revised for ’18. Horsepower is up 21 to 354; torque climbs 44 lb-ft. to 369.
With the 5th door hatch, there’s wide open access to the Sportback’s 21.8 cu-ft. of luggage space. That’s 8.8 cu-ft. more than the sedan, and the space expands to 35.0 cu-ft. with the seatbacks folded. Coupe-like styling in hatchback form is nothing new to Audi, or any other European brand for that matter; as almost everything including SUVs, seems to boast a coupe-like profile these days.
And, that slick shape also fit’s the S’ road handling profile. Under throttle, the S5 is very well balanced and yearning to go, almost like you’re holding it back when tooling around town. And, when we unleashed it at our test track; it reacted with such responsiveness through the turns, it seemed to be begging us for more. There’s still a mild understeer tendency, as we’ve found typical in quattros, standard on all Sportbacks, but very little body roll. The S’ new sport differential transfers power side to side quicker than before. It’s hard to say we could truly feel a difference, but nothing about this car is sluggish.
And certainly that can be said of straight-line performance as well. The turbo V6 pays out a wealth of torque right from the get go; and quattro invests it wisely with a treasure trove of traction for getting off the line in a hurry. We hit 60 in 4.6-seconds.
Audi’s 8-speed Tiptronic automatic handles gearing. Audi claims there’s not enough demand for a manual, and it’s getting harder and harder to argue with that. This auto fires hard and fast, taking us to the end of the ¼ in 13.1-seconds at 107 miles-per-hour. Well done!
But, what about that true A5 two-door Coupe we mentioned earlier? Now, it may not have the practicality of the Sportback, or our test car’s S performance treatment, but it still takes the A4 design theme in a traditionally sporty direction.
The A5 Coupe’s long wheelbase, exaggerated wheel arches, and power dome hood set the tone; while the tall and wide Audi Singleframe grille, slender headlights, and LED tail lights keep the family resemblance strong.
This A5 Coupe, like the base Sportback, has a familiar 2.0-liter I4 turbo as standard. Along with 252-horsepower comes 273 lb-ft. of torque. Also as in all Sportbacks, quattro all-wheel-drive is standard; but here a 6-speed manual transmission is available, as is a 7-speed DCT; same price for either. The Coupe may be less practical inside, but certainly no less comfortable or luxurious. With all of the high performance Audi’s we’ve driven lately, it was refreshing to spend some time in a volume model; and find the same light but confident steering, and potent turbo linked to an equally impressive transmission.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the A5 Coupe automatic are 24-City, 34-Highway, and 27-Combined. Our average, a good 29.1 miles-per-gallon.
The S5 Sportback’s ratings are 21-City, 30-Highway, and 24-Combined; with our average an acceptable 22.3 miles-per-gallon. A5 Coupe Pricing starts at $43,775 for Premium trim, $6,800 over an A4 sedan. Sportback pricing starts at $43,575; $55,375 for an S5.
Whether you’re looking for sporty luxury for two from the 2018 A5 Coupe, or more practicality and performance from the 2018 S5 Sportback, they make without a doubt, along with the A4, an unbeatable hand, and we’re all in.
2018 Audi S5 Sportback:
Engine: 3.0 liter
Torque: 369 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.6 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.1 seconds @ 107 mph
EPA: 21 mpg city / 30 mpg highway
2018 Audi A5 Coupe:
Engine: 2.0 liter
Torque: 273 lb-ft.
EPA: 24 mpg city / 34 mpg highway