2018 Audi A5 and S5 first drive review: Sibling rivalry renewed Page 2


A relaxed hustler

Admittedly, our time behind the wheels of both was limited mainly to narrow, rough pavement through the vineyards around Porto, Portugal, but we did fly home with an especially positive impression of the S5.

Even in its firmest Drive Select setting, Dynamic, the S5 more comfortably absorbs rutted terrain without compromising any of its inherent athleticism. Its electric power steering delivers a commendable amount of road feel without taking the easy way out of simply being too heavy, all the better to enjoy the decidedly more sorted chassis.

Throttle the S5 and it roars to life, the red tachometer needle swings rapidly to the right before the 8-speed fires off some of the fastest shifts we've seen from a conventional automatic. That said, the S5 utilizes Audi's version of the well-received ZF 8-speed gearbox seen in countless other cars; but this may be its best home yet.

Although its front end is more prone to digging into a hard corner than in rear-drive cars like the C-Class or BMW's 4-Series, the S5 is thoroughly entertaining to drive. We're eager to sample Mercedes' new C43, but the S5 generally manages to make the BMW 435i feel like yesterday's news. 

MORE: Read The Car Connection's 2017 Audi A4 review

The A5 aims for a different buyer, even if the two cars are essentially indistinguishable at first glance. Its 2.0-liter engine delivers respectable grunt, the kind of performance that would have been supercar worthy just a few years ago. Yet despite its dual-clutch gearbox, the coupe feels more relaxed and comfortable and relishes hustling along in silence.

It is in the A5 that we appreciated the substantial sound deadening efforts Audi has put into its latest compact range. Certainly not a mere highway cruiser, the A5 may strike the best balance between performance and livability, not to mention price, of the two for most buyers. 

Pricing isn't out, but Audi says to expect only a modest increase over A5's current price of $40,500, and $53,100 for the current S5.

But that's sibling rivalry, with each member of the clan showing off its strengths. Now pass us the potatoes while we wait for big brother RS 5 to come home.


 
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