I fly way too much, but sometimes the destination can be reached by car – preferably a very fast and comfortable one. It’s a great challenge. Which car to drive? A large luxury SUV would be great, but they’re not fun fast. A sports car is fast, but not very comfortable. Coupes can be comfy and fast, but aren’t very practical. So, I settled for a top flight “five door coupe”. The 2019 Audi S5 Sportback was absolutely the right choice for a several-hour Interstate bonsai run from Indianapolis, Indiana to Fort Wayne, Indiana and back.
It looks the part. That big Audi grille, flanked by gleaming LED headlamps, flows back into neatly sculpted fenders filled with 19” alloy wheels. Red brake calipers add some glam. The side view is where the S5 Sportback separates from the coupe and sedan. A steeply raked rear roofline is pretty sexy – as is the wide rear facia topped by a thin lip spoiler. It’s like the Autobahn was diffused into a car.
I doubt anybody will complain about accommodations. Heated red diamond-stitched Nappa leather seats welcome you into a cabin stocked with suede door padding, drenching Bang & Olufsen audio, tri-zone automatic climate control, and a power sunroof for those nice spring and fall days. Power open the rear hatch and flip down the rear seats to toss in a ridiculous amount of luggage. Let’s be clear about one thing, though. This is not a sedan. It has five doors, and kids will fit in the back, but it’s a bit snug for adults.
That won’t matter if you’re sitting in the front where an array of electronics serve their masters. Drivers get a head up display, configurable flatscreen instrument cluster, adaptive cruise, active lane assist, and top view camera. Navigation provides directions in the HUD and can throw a full map across the instrument screen. Infotainment is by Audi’s MMI system, which means a console joywheel and dash screen. A small volume knob also functions as seek when slid sideways. It all looks very cool, but also works well on the road.
You can kick it hard if you wish, but the S5 is best enjoyed flexing up and down the speed continuum. This isn’t a raucous V8-powered muscle car, but rather a refined cruise missile propelled by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 delivering 354 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. All of that oomph goes to the road through an 8-speed automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel-drive. Auto stop/start enables reasonably frugal fuel economy of 21/30-MPG city/highway.
Still, the S5 can gather and dispense speed with near abandon. Click down on the big pedal and the car leaps to triple digits as if lit from the rear. Passing left-lane slowpokes is child’s play. Waving goodbye to tractors on rural two-lanes brings giggles. Hit the turbos and let Quattro shift power. Audi’s Drive Select system lets you configure the steering, throttle, and suspension from Comfort to Dynamic, depending on your mood and driving endeavors. When it’s time to deploy the parachutes, the brakes erase speed with zero drama. This car simply annihilates miles.
It turns out the S5 is a pretty comfy missile. The turbo V6, adaptive suspension, and all-wheel-drive would be fantastic even if they were under a buckboard, but the S5 spoils passengers with a cherry interior. It’s fast when you want it to be and frugal when you don’t. Pets and kids even fit in the back. While you can buy an A5 for $44,200, an S5 with its full retinue comes to $67,850.
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