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2018 Audi S5 Coupe Drivers' Notes | Athletic luxury

It may not look all that different from the outgoing model, but the 2018 Audi S5 coupe is all new both inside and out. The V6 ditches a supercharger for a single twin-scroll turbo that provides 21.5 psi of boost. That engine is mated with ZF’s wonderful eight-speed automatic and sends power to all four wheels with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system. Like in the S4, the new engine makes 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, up 21 horsepower and 44 pound feet over the old V6.

This particular Daytona Gray car comes with a lovely shade of quilted red leather over the sport seats. Audi added the S sport package with red brake calipers, adaptive dampers, and a sport differential. Other options include a Bang & Olufsen sound system and 19-inch wheels with summer tires.

Associate Editor Reese Counts: I dug this car straight from the moment I opened the door. I dig red leather, and I especially like it paired subdued colors like black, white or grey. The seats are comfortable and the leather is nice and soft, though I’m getting a little tired of quilted stitching. The interior design is clean and, while I don’t usually like it, the carbon fiber trim works well here. There’s a lot of room up front, and it helps make the cabin feel less claustrophobic.

This new V6 is a sweetheart. It’s smooth and sounds like a full chorus as it sails to redline. Torque comes on low and, no matter where you are in the rev range, there’s power for days. Shifts on the ZF eight-speed are quick when you need them to be and smooth when you don’t. As expected, quattro puts power down with next to no drama. It simply moves.

One neat thing we found during the live drive is that the engine cover comes off with ease. Pop it off and the turbo is right there!

Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I really enjoyed my night in the Audi S5. Love the 354-hp V6 and the eight-speed Tiptronic pairing. It’s efficient, feels sporty yet still has a smooth dynamic. I liked pulling up to stoplights, mashing the throttle and shooting ahead of slower traffic. The engine sounds good, too, without being obnoxious.

That’s the theme of the S5. It feels athletic — but still maintains proper bearing as a luxury coupe. Every time I drive an S5, I feel like it’s the car Don Draper would own if he were real and “Mad Men” were set in the current day. Like Draper, the S5 is creased and poised. Its gray paint, sparkling lights and smart design cues give this coupe a confident attitude and suave demeanor.

This sport/luxury coupe market isn’t huge, but Audi has a corner on it. That’s a smart play. Well-executed cars like the S5 build brand identity and they’re quite fun to drive.

Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: When we had the long-term Audi A4 with the sport suspension and 19-inch wheel package at our office, I sort of fell in love with it. Driving the Audi S5 brought me back, but got my heart beating faster, sooner. It feels like a distillation of the sportiest parts of the A4’s driving dynamics with a sexier shape, plus more output and a fancier interior to match the higher price tag.

And it’s a pleasure to drive with vim. It’s quick and stable, allowing for dashing moves on the highway. Getting out and around slowpokes was less chore-like and far more satisfactory than on my average commute. Off the highway, it digs right in and holds onto the pavement accelerating through turns. As with the A4, putting the S5 into Dynamic mode and taking advantage of the paddles on the back of the steering wheel creates a close, almost synaptic connection with the car.

My only complaint is that the S5 could be louder. It has such a buff exhaust note, but it’s well isolated from the cabin. There is a “Dynamic” setting for the exhaust, but even that is pretty well filtered by the time it gets to the driver’s ears. Every once in awhile, I could hear the exhaust doing interesting flutters and coughs while I was pushing the car, but it seemed like it was more for the enjoyment of passersby than my own. I get it, though. An Audi is supposed to be refined and dignified, even in the performance-oriented guises.

Managing Editor Greg Rasa: This isn’t your grandmother’s car. Which is a statement meant both to praise its snappy performance, and to say enough with the quilting already. I’m not a fan of gray cars, but the red interior really pops in this combo. The leather is nice to the touch, and the seats are infinitely adjustable. But this quilt pattern seems to be a trend in luxury cars, and in cars putting on airs of luxury, and, well, it’s just not my thing. And yes, that’s definitely a First World problem.

Otherwise, the interior is handsome in that Audi way, with about a mile of red stitching accenting everything from the steering wheel to the shifter boot to the floormats. A taller driver will rejoice at the ample legroom but might need to recline the seat a bit, as my head was grazing the sleek coupe roof. But headroom, quilting — those are quibbles. The car drives wonderfully, with all the power and performance any reasonable person could want.

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