Month: March 2018

2018 Audi S5 Sportback

2018 Audi S5 Sportback

2018 Audi S5 Sportback
2018 Audi S5 Sportback

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.

As Ordered.

2018 Audi S5 Sportback
2018 Audi S5 Sportback

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.

2018 Audi S5 Sportback
2018 Audi S5 Sportback

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.

Inside Out.

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.

2018 Audi S5 Sportback
2018 Audi S5 Sportback

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.

Drivetime.

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.

Story and photos by Mark Elias
2018 Audi S5 Sportback
Base MSRP:  $54,400          As tested: $68,350.
Includes:  Tango Red Metallic paint, $575; Prestige Package, $4,400; S-Sport Package, $2,500; Driver Assistance Package, $1,800; Dynamic Steering, $1,150; Nappa Leather Interior, $1,250; 19-inch Wheels $800; Carbon Fiber Inlays, $500; Destination fee, $975.
Key Specification
Cylinders:                                Six-cylinders V6
Displacement:                       3.0-liter
Power:                                     354 hp @ 5,400-6,400 rpm
Torque:                                    369 lb-ft @ 1,370-4,500 rpm
Fuel System:                           Turbocharged Fuel Injection
Fuel:                                           Premium
Acceleration:                           0-60mph in 4.5 seconds
Drive Type                               Quattro All-Wheel-Drive
Gearbox:                                   Eight-speed Tiptronic
Top Speed:                                155 mph
Tire Size:                                   255/35/R19 Three Season Tires
Unladen Weight:                   3,924-pounds
Length:                                      187.1-inches
Width:                                       79.9-inches
Height:                                       54.5-inches
Wheelbase:                               111.2-inches
Cargo Volume:                        35 cubic feet rear seat folded
                                                     21.8 cubic feet rear seat up
Cd:                                                       0.29
City:                                                     21
Highway:                                             30
Combined:                                           24
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”103″ gal_title=”2018 Audi S5 Sportback”]
2018 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Sport CUV

2018 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Sport CUV

Alfa-Romeo Stelvio
Alfa-Romeo Stelvio

It’s a CUV that is combination grocery getter, kid kaddy, and pet picker upper. And everything it does is performed in a manner that screams “Pronto!”  It’s the 2018 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Sport CUV. And it’s Italian. That could go both ways, by the way…

It’s quite the ride, especially when you become so steeped in Italian culture that you begin to think of yourself as il Commendatore (The Commander). I mean really! It might be because we are so excited to see the Alfa-Romeo badge back on this side of the Ocean. So, put on your latest Prada, hop in, and buckle up. It’s going to be quite a ride!

Brass tacks.

The 2018 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Sport is, like the recently introduced Jaguar E-Pace, a “tweener,” that bridges the gap between, for example, the BMW X3 and its larger X5 sibling and the Mercedes-Benz GLC which will all likely be shopped against this EPA-classed Mid-Size SUV. It gets its power from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that sports a turbocharger to force feed it for more power.

Alfa-Romeo Stelvio
Alfa-Romeo Stelvio

Power is either a put-up or shut-up proposition. This engine deals in put-up, laying down 280-horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 306 lb-ft of torque starting at 2,000 rpm and peaking at 4,800. A ZF-built 8HP50 8-speed automatic transmission sends power via a carbon-fiber drive shaft to all four corners for all season, all-wheel drive. For those needing more in the way of oomph, there is the 505-horsepower Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

From the outside, we were impressed with the angular exterior looks that could clearly have come from the best styling ateliers in Milan. Starting with an aggressive lean that jutted forward to the express “eyes” which lead to the triangular shaped Alfa-Romeo intake, the car screams of its Italian heritage.

Inside, the Stelvio surprisingly casts off any apparent Italian flair in favor of an interior that appears much more minivan than master of the autostrada. Embossed headrests bearing the Alfa crest join the steering wheel insert as the only hint you are in anything from Italy, save for the larger than large aluminum paddle shift levers and the steering wheel-mounted ignition button.

Alfa-Romeo Stelvio
Alfa-Romeo Stelvio

The center console is marked by a rather non-descript shifter, that we have seen before, and is flanked by controls that change the Stelvio’s drive dynamics from dynamic to natural to sport, while a joystick-style nob takes care of the audio system on the other side. A matrix style graphic panel stretches from right to left across the dashboard and the Harman/Kardon audio aurally fills the space, but we were left a bit disappointed by the appearance overall. Give us some tan Ferrari-style leather, we say.

The cargo hold is nicely finished with strap-in guide rails, and 18.5 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats in the upright position. Fold them forward, and that area jumps in size to 56.5-cubic feet.

Behind the wheel

Despite the interior decoration shortcomings, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Alfa-Romeo Stelvio, which turns out to be the sports car among other SUVs in the segment. It did not have, nor through its marketing campaign, display any off-road pretensions, which is quite alright for us in the sense that this SUV will never go camping, mudding, cruising through Baja California or so on. In fairness, even if you found yourself in a Land Rover, you most likely would not take that vehicle off-road either.

While others have complained of inherent problems from this Italian designed and manufactured vehicle, we were pleasantly surprised with an SUV that just worked. No drama, difficulties, or side of the road coffee breaks waiting for Alfa service to come rescue us. Progress, we say!

Acceleration from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder was about average for the segment and provided spirited handling throughout our weeklong adventure with it. We were disturbed by the roughness that appeared with the auto start/stop function, becoming so annoyed that we ended its pain by disabling the option. During around town driving at a somewhat respectable speed, we felt the engine had a tendency to drone on. It was quickly alleviated when we force fed it more fuel. But at the end of the day, perhaps it could be attributed to the mid-profile Continental tires.

Alfa-Romeo Stelvio
Alfa-Romeo Stelvio

Still, the Alfa-Romeo Stelvio is an impressive handler, thanks to its double wishbone front suspension and newly designed and patented Alfa Link vertical rod link rear suspension. It’s quite easy to see why, despite its quirks, it is easy to have an emotional attachment to an SUV, especially when it is known by its “La meccanica delle emozioni” (the mechanics of emotion) tagline.

Bravo!

Story and photos by Mark Elias

2018 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Sport

Base MSRP: $43,795           As tested: $53,585.

Includes:  Driver Assistance Static Package with Front Parking Sensors, $800; Driver Assistance Dynamic Package, $1,500; 8.8-inch Display with 3D Navigation, $1,550; Sirius XM Radio, $350; Harmon Kardon Premium Sound System, $900; Dual-Pane Sunroof, $1,350; Cold Weather Package, $795; Convenience Package, $200; 20-inch Aluminum Wheels, $750; Metallic Paint, $600; Destination fee, $995.

 

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                4-cylinder Inline twin scroll turbocharged

Displacement:                          2.0-liters

Power:                                     280-hp @ 5,200 rpm

Torque:                                    306 lb-ft @ 2,000-4,000 rpm

Fuel System:                           Gas Direct Injection

Acceleration:                            0-60mph in 5.5-seconds

Drive Type                              AWD

Gearbox:                                 ZF 8-speed Automatic with paddle shift levers

Tire Size:                                 255/45R20 Continental ContiCrossContact LX

Unladen Weight:                     4,044-pounds

Length:                                    184.6-inches

Width:                                     74.9-inches

Height:                                    66-inches

Wheelbase:                            111-inches

Towing:                                   3,000-pounds

Cargo Volume:                      56.5-cubic feet rear seat folded

18.5-cubic feet rear seat up

Cd:                                          0.32

City:                                        22

Highway:                               28

Combined:                            24

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”101″ gal_title=”2018 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio”]

 

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