I've been test driving cars alot recently on my off days just for fun and today I stopped by the Audi dealer. I was intending to drive an A5 (wanted to feel the difference between my car and the 2.0t to see if I could deal with the hp decrease) and told the salesman as much. He seemed to think it would be better to sample a beautiful white S5 6MT instead and who the hell was I to argue???
I took some pics this time to liven up my story!
The first thing I noticed was the sound. It was an understated growl but with a basso profundo quality you could feel in your chest. I know the 4.2 V8 is on the way out but I honestly can't see preferring the SC V6 over this engine even if it is faster. The V8 is just that good! Secondly, as I slid behind the driver's seat I realized that the steering wheel had MANUAL adjustments for up/down/in/out which surprised me in a car that stickered for $63k!!!
I snicked the six-speed shifter in first and we set off. Gear selection was smooth, if a bit notchy, but the clutch had a soft engagement that made it feel artificial somehow. I'm used to the 600 lb leg-press I have to do in my Infiniti so this clutch took some getting used to. The revs rise quickly in this car and, combined with the weird clutch feel, my first couple runs through the gears were a bit amateurish I must admit. Eventually I got settled in and could focus on the experience.
The car I got to drive had the red leather interior with CF trim. All I can say is: WOW. This thing has the class to put my poor ol' G37 to shame! Interestingly the door plastics were hard to the touch but still exuded quality. The Nappa leather seats were butter-smooth and felt like a million bucks on my backside. Other interior features included a button-type parking brake (which I did not like), a beautiful brushed aluminum starter button, and black cloth headliner (no alcantara unfortunately). The nav screen was on the small side IMO and the map screens were slightly disappointing (good resolution but unimpressive graphical design). The Audi MMI was very cool and allowed for numerous functions through the nav screen (though I was more focused on the drive so I didn't play around with it much).
I loved the gauges and the info screen in between was top notch. The smell was heavenly as well. I can't tell you how bad I wanted to sign the papers for that car right then and there but, alas, it wasn't meant to be.
The salesman was a really cool guy and he gave me plenty of leeway when it came time to open up the taps. I worked in a couple of highway on-ramp acclerations as well as some tight turns on my 20 minute test drive. The interesting thing about this car is that the power feels comparable to my G37's but the sound makes it seem like you are going much faster. In all honesty, my seat-o-the-pants dyno says that this car is quick but not amazing. The redline sits at 7k rpm and I wrung it out to that number in the first 3 gears several times so I can safely say I got to experience all she had to offer. Again it was impressive, but just marginally faster than my car.
The steering feel was a bit muted and artificial but very quick and very precise. I didn't get to do any full-on braking but the binders felt more than adequate in the stops I did make. In the short time I had with the car I can basically describe its performance as impressive, but not anything noticeably greater than the other cars in this class (G37/IS350/335i/etc). The thing that struck me most was the experience itself. This car just feels like its in a higher class than those other cars even if it doesn't necessarily perform any better.
My tester was fully loaded and, manual steering adjustments notwithstanding, there were an impressive array of features including rain sensing wipers, two SD card slots, seat heaters with 6 adjustments, a panoramic tilting roof, and blind-spot indicators in the mirrors. Seat-coolers were conspicuous by their absence, however.
The S5 is a fairly large car on the outside but that doesn't translate to the interior. The car is every bit as cramped as my G37 and the trunk is only deeper but no wider. The seats felt amazing but were a bit confining to my admittedly wide girth. Still, they were an order of magnitude more comfy than the sport seats in my Infiniti and they too have thigh extenders. The contols all fall right into your grasp as your hand rests on the shift-knob, eliminating the need to reach for buttons as you have to in both the IS and G37. I personally like the look of dash-mounted buttons better, but there is no arguing against the superior ergonomics of Audi's design. Of particular surprise to me was the use of some hard plastics in this car. While certainly unobtrusive, it was nonetheless interesting to note.
All in all, I was blown away by this car. The looks alone are worth the asking price but the Audi is so much more than that. You get a visceral thrill rowing through the gears and listening to that amazing V8 soundtrack. The smells of expensive leather permeate your nostrils as the blare of the Bang and Olufsen stereo echoes in your ears. Visual delights abound, from the crystal clear instrumentation to the high-res nav screen to the polished aluminum and CF accents. Tactile touches such as the smooth Nappa leather and the chunky steering wheel/shift knob bathe your senses in the glow of extravagance. I loved this car. LOVED it. It really is that good.
Me, looking fat but happy!!!
I guess I will try to sample the A5 again one of these days, but I'm afraid the S5 has ruined it for me. Just as I suspect the salesman intended....