Honey, I shrunk the Audi S7.
The 2018 Audi S5 Sportback is the latest vehicle of interest from Ingolstadt, Germany. It’s also one of those cars that continues to blur the distinction between a coupe and a sedan, seemingly defying naming convention as we have acknowledged it up to this point.
Follow us here for a moment.
When we started this journey, each model had its own name, which when we heard it, instantly triggered in our minds, what it was. A Dodge Charger was a two-door large muscle car. A BMW 3-series was a two-door coupe. Those two examples have given way to new four-door sedans that look nothing like what we remember when first being introduced to them. The same can be said for the 2018 Audi S5 Sportback. All bets are off now as the two-door coupe has become part of a family that now includes a coupé, a cabriolet and this four-door liftback. But it’s quite a satisfying four-door liftback.
While the Audi A5 Sportback is equipped with a 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine as standard, our 2018 Audi S5 Sportback is loaded with a 3.0-liter TFSI V6 engine producing 354 hp and 369-pound feet of torque that pushes power through an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. That in-turn sends all the torque, via Quattro, to all four corners of the car. The Quattro system features a 40:60 asymmetric torque split which is variable up to 70:30 bias. Zero to 60 mph, Audi claims, comes in 4.5 seconds.
The S5 Sportback relies on a five-link front independent steel spring suspension with another five-link independent suspension bringing up the rear. It also included Audi’s Sport adaptive damping suspension which is part of the S sport package ($2,500) that also includes red brake calipers and a sport rear differential.
Walk around The Block.
The Exterior of the new S5 Sportback is not dissimilar in appearance from big brother Audi S7. The familiar singleframe grille surround appears once again. Strangely under this iteration it seems closer in appearance to vehicles in the Hyundai lineup, which is no coincidence considering who Audi’s former design chief and Hyundai’s current design chief is. That would be Peter Schreyer. We know that nearly every story ever written about either the Audi or Hyundai brands includes his name but the fact is that his influence continues to weigh heavily across the industry.
Just above the grille, the hood rises up from its downward lilt, probably a result of pedestrian safety regulations throughout the EU. Sweeping up over the windshield, we are treated to a fantastic ultra-wide panoramic glass roof that can make the cockpit as bright and airy or as dark as you would like. Futuristic LED lighting crisps up the forward corners of the S5 Sportback, and lead rearward with a look that is still unmistakably Audi. In fact, the look is distinctly like that of a fastback A4/S4 variant. The rear flank continues with the crease that is seen on contemporary Audi vehicles today, but what is that we see at the leading edge of the D-pillar? Why, it seems like Audi has appropriated the Hofmeister kink, adapting BMW designer Wilhelm Hofmeister’s kinkiness as their own. At the rear, the S5 Sportback features a distinctive rear diffuser that mimics one found on its Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) road racers, down to a quad of chrome-tipped exhaust finishers.
Shoppers in the market for a four-door “coupé” will likely cross-shop the Audi against the Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG and the BMW 440 xDrive Gran Coupe. The new four-door S5 must have connected with consumers in a positive way: It now accounts for almost half of all A5/S5 models sold.
The interior of the S5 Sportback is all-Audi. The 12.3-inch virtual cockpit gauge binnacle is a TFT style display that shows off all gauges and styling cues necessary to match the drive mode you have the car set up for in the first place. If engaged, it can also display a bird’s eye view of Google Earth as seen in our photo below. It is matched by a 7.0-inch standing display atop the center console that works with the Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) to operate telephone, audio, navigation and climate functions and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Since our tester was the S5 sport sedan, it included Classic, Technology and Sport modes that catered to those specific disciplines.
Instead of the normally gorgeous wood trim seen in standard A5 models, our S5 was equipped with a techno carbon fiber trim panel that was seen on the dashboard, doors and console. We think the carbon look is getting played out already and would welcome the use of a more luxurious open-pore wood trim instead.
Heading to the rear seat found surprisingly roomy accommodations for three passengers or two with the armrest/cupholder engaged. Rear seat climate controls were found on the rear of the center console. They offered surprising comfort during a semi-long road trip across the state.
Acceleration from the twin-scroll turbocharged V6 was generally strong when in dynamic mode, but really began to sing when using the paddles for more aggression. Handling from the Quattro system had us sure-footedly cutting corners with purpose while putting the Sportback through its paces on our test loop. Zero to 60 comes in 4.5-seconds. Top speed slots in at a respectable (but governed) 155 mph.
We love the ability of the Audi S5 Sportback Quattro system to act like we’ve applied glue to the pavement. The torque vectoring from Audi’s Sport Differential worked well in a variety of situations seemingly trying to shorten the turning radius of some tighter turns. The effort in steering this sport sedan could be varied between comfort, sport and dynamic modes. Our choice overall was to set it in Dynamic which found the steering adapting according to what we, and the road, asked of it.
Overall it was quite the boulevardier, that garnered looks from most viewers. Others were mildly blasé about it, but that’s their loss, not ours.