Audi denotes the performance levels of its cars with the letters A, S, and RS, with the latter pair signifying the hottest models. Which makes the 2021 S5 coupe and cabriolet the second most powerful member of the Audis that have the number “5” on their decklid. While the four-door S5 Sportback is reviewed separately, it shares the same 349-hp V-6 powertrain and standard Quattro all-wheel drive as its two-door siblings. The coupe and cabriolet (read: convertible) have a much smaller back seat and less cargo space than the Sportback, but their rich-looking and tech-heavy cabins have the same attractive design and upscale features. The S5’s balanced ride-and-handling characteristics make it easy for the driver to switch from relaxed cruising to spirited driving. But the S5 lacks the chutzpah of more-aggressive rivals like the Mercedes-AMG C43.
What’s New for 2021?
For 2021, Audi makes the smallest of changes to the S5 coupe and convertible. These updates consist of a newly standard lane-departure warning, wireless Apple CarPlay, and an integrated toll module that’s built into the rearview mirror. The latter is a transponder that allows drivers to access compatible toll-road services in the U.S. and Canada. The optional Convenience package now comes with a heated steering wheel as well as front and rear parking sensors. The Black Optic package now adds an optional black-painted roof too. The S5 Premium Plus trim includes standard adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology, a top-view camera system, and a steering wheel with hands-on detection. Every Prestige model now has heated rear seats.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
All S5s come with the same 349-hp turbocharged V-6 engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. Thanks to its launch-control system and all-wheel-drive traction, the last S5 coupe we tested delivered competitive acceleration in a class of quick alternatives. In our testing, it went from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. Despite the additional weight, the convertible S5 cabriolet that we tested was still plenty quick, hitting 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. Both titillating two-door S5s we tested was equipped with the optional 19-inch performance tires and the S Sport package, which adds a torque-vectoring rear differential and adaptive dampers. As equipped, our test cars sported firm but still compliant rides. The coupe also came equipped with the Dynamic Steering option, which quickens the steering the more the wheel is turned from center. We found the system uncommunicative and unpredictable; we recommend against it and that you stay with the standard fixed-ratio steering setup.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
With a potent turbocharged V-6 and standard all-wheel drive, one might expect the S5 coupe and cabriolet to have a not-so-great fuel economy. However, the EPA expects the fixed-roof version to earn 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway—choosing the convertible reduces both ratings by 1 mpg. While we’ve tested a coupe on our 75-mph real-world route, we haven’t tested one since the government reduced its highway rating from 30 mpg last year to 27 mpg this year.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The S5’s interior is marked by soft-to-the-touch, expensive-feeling materials, high-quality fit and finish, and a user-friendly design. Both driver and front-seat passengers are treated to comfortable and roomy power-adjustable seats, while rear-seat riders are left with the bare minimum of acceptable space. Those in need of more rear-seat room should look at the four-door S5 Sportback, which has a longer wheelbase and offers more room for rear passengers. The S5’s interior starts with a conservative but modern dashboard design that’s pieced together with laser-tight precision. Additionally, every S5 includes luxuries such as front seats with heating and massage functions, three-zone climate control, and push-button start. In our testing, the S5 coupe held as many carry-on suitcases as the last 440i coupe we tested, making it one of the top-rated in its segment. Meanwhile, the convertible swallowed as many carry-ons in its trunk as the C43 cabriolet. Additionally, the S5’s comparatively low lift-over height and wide trunk opening make loading items into the cargo bay an easy affair.