“Regular” A5 gets slightly more power while sporty S5 is a subtle performer; RS5 uses a howling 450-horsepower V8 and flared body for ultimate thrills.
Base 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder now makes 220 horses; supercharged 3.0-liter V6 in S5; RS5 uses high-revving 450-horsepower V8; all models are Quattro all-wheel-drive except the base convertible that’s front-wheel-drive.
Although its lines have remained largely unchanged since its debut in 2008, the Walter da’Silva-penned A5 still turns heads. In particular is a wavy beltline (just below the side glass) that gives it its sumptuous curves, which is a look more commonly associated with much pricier machinery such as the Jaguar XK-series. Compared to the A5, the sporty S5 looks even more muscular with its own grille and front, side and rear skirts, two dual-tipped exhaust outlets and larger lower air-intake grilles. Both received updated corporate faces in 2013 that included more aggressive headlights with LED details, reshaped bumpers front and rear and new hoods, too. However, for 2014, that added aggression isn’t as noticeable thanks to the all-new RS5 that just bleeds high-octane. With wider “boxed” fenders that house larger 20-inch wheels with ultra-sticky tires and upgraded brakes, there’s no mistaking the RS5 for either of its more plebeian siblings. It uses a variant of the 4.2-liter V8 found in the last-generation RS4, which now produces an astonishing 450 horsepower at over 8,000 revs per minute. With no turbochargers in sight, the V8 makes a delicious racket, but it doesn’t make an amazing amount of torque: only 317 pound-feet. That’s maximized by the standard seven-speed S tronic “automatic” shared with the S5, which delivers instant upshifts and downshifts. The Quattro all-wheel-drive system is tuned for performance and helps the coupe rocket to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds (4.9 for the heavier convertible.) The base A5 engine remains a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, but is retuned for 220 horsepower rather than 211; the S5 uses the carryover 333-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6. Both engines are backed by six-speed manual transmissions, or optionally an eight-speed automatic for the four-cylinder and a seven-speed automatic for the S5. The base gas-engined A5 can jet to 60 mph in a tick over six seconds, which is impressive given the modest powertrain, while the S5 reaches 60 in about five. For Quattro all-wheel-drive models (all but the base convertible), power distribution is skewed 60 percent to the rear wheels, but this changes as the system detects tire slip.
Base price (incl. destination): $40,000 (coupe); $53,000 (S5 coupe); $45,500 (convertible); $61,400 (S5 convertible); $70,600 (RS5 coupe); $78,900 (RS5 convertible)
Type: Two-door coupe/convertible
Base engine (hp): 2.0-liter DOHC I4 (220)
Optional engine (hp): 3.0-liter DOHC V6, supercharged (333, S5); 4.2-liter DOHC V8 (450, RS5)
Layout: Front-engine, front- /all-wheel-drive
Transmission: Six-speed manual; eight-speed automatic (opt.); seven-speed automatic sequential manual (opt.; std. on RS5)
MPG (city/hwy): 21/31 (2.0, MT)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; stability control; anti-lock brakes
Weight (lb.): 3,580