Audi S5 2008 Review

Audi S5 2008 Review

Audi S5 2008 fq

I went to school with a guy called Ben Pridmore. He was two years younger than me, and not really that popular with the girls because his brains were spilling out of every cranial orifice. He eventually went on to become an accountant with a beard. Oh, and the world memory champion. He can remember the order of a randomly shuffled deck of 52 cards in 26.28 seconds.

In a complete coincidence I picked up a newspaper in Melbourne when I was there for the tennis to read that he’d been beaten in a memory test by a chimp. The test consisted of remembering the location flashing squares appearing on a screen and Ben couldn’t get the monkey off his back. Read about it here.

So, if I could trade in my brain for a hybrid brain of Ben Pridmore and the chimp I’d be more than capable of remembering every numerical combination of models from Audi, Mercedes and BMW. You should really take a look at it. Audi has the A3, A4, A5, A6, A8, Q7, S3, S4, S5, S6, S8, RS4, RS6, R8 (spot the change in sequence), and the TT and allroad; BMW has the 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series, M3, M5, M6, X3, X5, Z4, Z4 M (and that’s not including the sub-models within each series like the 123d, 135i, etc); and Mercedes has the A-Class, B-Class, C-Class, E-Class, G-Class, M-Class, R-Class, S-Class, and each of these has a set of numbers, and there are letter variants like SL, CLK, CLS, SLK, etc. Mercedes has 48 alone (not including commercials and vans) and I started counting the rest but visibly aged during the process. In all, there are probably more than 100 model variants available just with those three manufacturers.

It’s a good job then that I don’t need Pridmore’s perfect recall to spell S5 and remember that it has a V8 even though Audi’s model designations are confusing with their engine sizes — A4 (4-cylinder), S5 (8-cylinder), A6 (6-cylinder), RS6 (10-cylinder), etc.

The S5 reminds you it has a 4.2-litre V8 whenever you prod the throttle. Instant response comes from quattro four-wheel drive turning 260kW and 440Nm of torque through huge 245-width tyres. With all that power and four-wheel drive it understeers under acceleration. To get the most out of the chassis and handling it’s best to carry as much speed as possible into a late-apexed corner to get the car as straight as you can before applying the power. Driven like this it’s one of the sharpest handling luxury coupes I’ve wrestled with, and without putting them back to back on a track I’d say in league with the BMW M3 which is thirty grand more.

Back to more sedate motoring, I managed 12.9l/100km on my economy run from Takapuna to Grey Lynn, fractionally above Audi’s quoted 12.4l/100km. Not bad for an engine of this size and power. The S5 actually helps you achieve as economical ride as possible by recommending which of the gears you should be in. For a start I was always in far too low a gear. The S5 reckons that if you’re doing over 1500rpm under gentle motoring you should be changing up. If you’re doing less than about 1100rpm you should be changing down. With all that torque it’ll happily burble along at 55kph in sixth around town, or you can scream to 100kph in 5.1 seconds totally ignoring the drowning polar bears.

Gearshifts, like a sports car, are chiropractically notchy and need a firm action to make clean changes. Steering feel is weighted beautifully at speed, and is given extra assistance for manoeuvring at low speed. Parking sensors front and rear as standard help you to judge the wide hips of the S5, and the high waistline doesn’t seem to hamper visibility. The mirrors have two memory positions so it’s possible to set one for reversing to avoid kerbing the beautiful 18-inch wheels.

Inside is what you would expect from a car in this bracket. The luxurious touches are there, interspersed with the occasional bit of hard plastic. Leather seats all around for the four occupants are supportive and infinitely adjustable, and feature an S5 moniker. With the driver’s seat set for my fairly tall body, I could still sit in the back. The front seats have a dedicated forwards/backwards button on the back of them to aid rear-seat passengers in exiting the car.

To start the S5 is a rigmarole. Insert the whole key unit in a wide slot that would be perfect for kids to put bits of Lego in. Depress the clutch. Push the key again. Depress the brake. Push the handbrake button (it’s one of those hydraulic ones). Now you can move. Not exactly that flash for quick getaways.

But I think most purchasers of Audi will find all this academic, and that is most neatly summed up by a visit I paid to friends two nights ago. They didn’t see the car because their house is a building site and I didn’t want to risk their off-road driveway in a $138,000 car, but one of them said ‘Audi has really got some beautiful cars nowadays.’ I’d agree. I like the styling and I especially love the LED headlights. People very often aren’t logical when purchasing a car. They don’t buy a car in the rational way they’d remember the order of a deck of cards. It’s about its connection with your personality, its image, and whether it makes you feel Ace.

Price: $138,900 including the $1,000 optional stainless steel mesh trims in the cabin

What we like

  • Toys
  • Power
  • Styling
  • Handling
  • Noise
  • Sizeable boot

What we don’t like

  • Overly complicated startup procedure
  • Electronic handbrake makes hill starts difficult
Engine / electrics
Engine type V8 spark-ignition engine, four-valve technology, two-stage variable intake manifold, DOHC
Valve gear / number of valves per cylinder

Intake camshaft adjustment, roller cam followers with hydraulic adjustment / 4

Displacement in cc / bore x stroke in mm / compression

4163 / 84.5 x 92.8 / 11.0

Max. power output in kW (bhp) / at rpm

260 (354) / 7000

Max. torque in Nm / at rpm

440 / 3500

Engine management / mixture preparation

Fully electronic engine management with drive-by-wire throttle control,
Bosch MED 9.1.1; petrol direct injection, demand-controlled high-pressure and low-pressure fuel regulation, continuous lambda control, mapped ignition with solid-state high-voltage distribution, cylinder-selective adaptive knock control, air mass measuring system

Exhaust emission control

Two close-coupled ceramic catalytic converters, adaptive lambda control each with two oxygen sensors (control sensor and regulating sensor)

Emission class

EU 4

Alternator in A / battery in A/Ah

190 / 450 / 95

Drive / transmission
Drivetrain type

quattro permanent four-wheel drive with self-locking centre differential, ESP


Hydraulically operated single-plate dry clutch; dual-mass flywheel

Gearbox type

6-speed manual, synchromesh on all gears

Gear ratio in 1st gear / 2nd gear

3.667 / 2.050

Gear ratio in 3rd gear / 4th gear

1.462 / 1.133

Gear ratio in 5th gear / 6th gear

0.919 / 0.778

Reverse gear / final drive ratio

3.330 / 3.889

Running gear / steering / brakes
Front suspension

Five-link front suspension, upper and lower wishbones, tubular anti-roll bar

Rear suspension

Independent-wheel, trapezoidal-link rear suspension with resiliently mounted subframe, anti-roll bar

Steering / steering ratio / turning circle in m (D102)

Maintenance-free rack-and-pinion steering with power assistance / 16.3 / 11.4

Brake system

Dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split, ABS/EBD and ESP with brake assist; tandem brake booster; ventilated discs at front and rear

Wheels / tyres

8.5J x 18 cast aluminium wheels / 245/40 R 18

Performance / consumption / acoustics
Top speed, km/h

250 (governed)

Acceleration 0-100 km/h, s



Super Plus unleaded (98 RON)

Fuel consumption: urban / extra-urban / combined (l/100 km)

17.8 / 9.2 / 12.4

CO2 emissions: urban / extra-urban / combined (g/km)

427 / 221 / 298

Standing / drive-past exterior noise level in dB (A)

90 / 75

Servicing / guarantee
Oil change

15,000kms or 12 months

Audi Cover/Vehicle/paint/rust perforation warranty

3 years / 3 years with unlimited mileage / 3 years / 12 years

Weights / loads
Unladen weight (excl. driver) / gross weight limit in kg

1630 / 2130

Axle load limit at front / rear in kg

1130 / 1090

Trailer load limit unbraked in kg


Trailer load limit on 8% / 12% gradient, braked in kg

2100 / 1900

Roof load limit in kg / permissible nose weight in kg

75 / 80

Cooling system capacity (incl. heating) in litres


Engine oil capacity (incl. filter) in litres


Fuel tank capacity in litres


Body / dimensions 2)
Body type

Unitary steel body, galvanised, crumple zones at front and rear

Number of doors / seats

2 doors with additional side protection / four seats

Drag coefficient cD / frontal area A in m2

0.306 / 2.17

Length (L103) / width excl. mirrors (W103) / height (H100-M)

4635 / 1854 / 1369 (mm)

Wheelbase (L101) / track at front/rear (W101/W102) (mm)

2751 / 1594 / 1581

Height of loading lip in mm (H196)


Luggage capacity in litres, acc. to VDA block method (V211) (V214)


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