The S5 is the five you really want

The 2020 Audi S5 Sportback is, without a doubt, a real looker, and from all angles…’s striking, sharply styled, and as a bonus has some impressively detailed engineering under the skin.

There are 3 flavors of 5, starting at the lower end is the A5, which has a 248-hp turbo-four with 273 lb-ft. At the top end is the RS5, which has a 2.9-liter twin-turbo six with 444 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque backed by an eight-speed automatic. Sitting pretty in the middle is the S5 which sports a single turbo V6 with 349 hp and 369 lb-ft also mated to an 8-speed automatic. Whichever one you choose you can have in 2 door coupe or 4 door Sportback.

The Sportback S5, certainly for me, is the perfect compromise and after a week of driving my Tango Red Metallic tester, there’s no reason for me to really want more. Sure the buttoned-down RS5 has more power but I’m not sure I need it given the S5 is so very capable and you would need to shell out a lot more cash in the process.

What makes it great?

Aside from its looks the S5 drives very nicely, set it in Comfort and you can waft along on a wave of torque, it’s quiet inside and you can image yourself driving hundreds of miles effortlessly all day. Change a few Drive Mode settings though, and you can attack mountain roads with a big grin on your face.

There are 4 modes to choose from, Comfort, Auto where the car makes the decisions dependant on driving style, Dynamic which sets it to Sport mode, and Individual, where the driver can customize things like Steering, Suspension, and Exhaust noise.

The V6 and the 8-speed auto are a great combo, shifts are rattled off in quick succession, downshifts are seamless, and the only gripe I have is some minor turbo lag if you mash the throttle from a stop. Except when using Launch Mode it’s actually better to apply half pressure on the accelerator, let the car move forward to spool up the turbo, then floor it. Audi says the S5 will get from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds but it feels quicker and we guess it will knock a couple of tenths off that.

What’s it like on the road?

My top-level Prestige tester came with the $2,500 S Sport Package add-on, which is worth every penny since you get firmer suspension with adaptive dampers and the sport rear differential, which adds torque-vectoring to the rear axle. This really helps to make the Audi very fast and much fun on tight and twisty roads.

The Quattro all-wheel-drive system is rear-biased and 60% of power can be sent to the rear which makes it extremely well balanced at all times. My tester also had another option checked, Dynamic Steering ($1,150), which quickens up the response in its sportiest setting, but it remains light in the default Comfort mode.

The cabin is nicely insulated from wind and road noise, and the suspension is tuned to absorb uneven surfaces but we did notice that some bigger ruts did upset the car on occasion due to the thin sidewalls of the summer Dunlop Sport Maxx tires, mounted on a superb looking set of 20-inch twin-spoke polygon design wheels.

Regardless of the type of road, the S5 provides great balance and poise no matter what you ask of it, it’s incredibly fun to drive on twisty roads, but you don’t always have to drive it at ten thenths to enjoy it, it’s perfectly happy warbling along to the grocery store to get some bread.

Driven with enthusiasm we saw our fuel economy dip to 13 mpg when were really getting on it, but addimg our highway and in-town driving and we averaged a very respectable 21.9 mpg for the week so it doesn’t seem improbable that you could achieve the EPA touted 27 mpg on a long highway run.


Inside any Audi is a pretty special place and this S5 is no exception. Material quality is top-notch and that includes below the knee where many manufacturers cut costs, not so Audi. The 8-way powered front chairs on my tester were covered in fine Nappa leather ($1,000) and are extremely comfortable, however, if you choose this option, they are only heated and NOT cooled. I would skip this, especially in Southern California, where cooled seats are a must. The fronts also came with massage functions, worth it on a long trip to Las Vegas.

Audi has overhauled its infotainment system and now offers a higher-resolution 10.1-inch touchscreen to replace the old 8.3-inch display. It makes a satisfying click when you touch the screen, it’s easy to use, fast and responsive. The rotary controller and buttons that were on the center console are no longer, instead, you get a small cubby. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, a 12.3-inch digital gauge is standard on the Prestige model tester I had but now has updated graphics and three new viewing modes (Classic, Sport, and Dynamic).

My S5 Sportback also came with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, a head-up display, a panoramic sunroof, and a power hatch. Additionally, Carbon Atlas Inlays ($500), Black Optic Package ($2,200) which includes those terrific 20-inch wheels, Summer tires, and Black exterior trim and mirror housings were checked options.

The rear seat is comfortable, but the headroom is restricted for those of above-average height or small people with long necks. If you want a gorgeously pretty shape you have to make compromises and rear-seat passengers almost always play second fiddle. The bonus though is there is plenty of cargo space, 21.8 cubic feet, and a lot more if you eschew passengers and fold down the rear seats.


I like all three of the fives in Sportback mode because they simply look so damn good and best of all they all have a hatchback that’s disguised as a trunk lid. Together with the fact that they all have four doors, provides them the perfect utility to carry several dogs (seats folded of course), four not too tall adults, or grandma’s antique dresser. That said the A5 is probably not quick enough for me and the RS5 would probably give grandma a heart attack so the S5 fits the bill just nicely.

2020 Audi S5 Sportback Numbers

BASE PRICE: $51,900
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE: 3.0 liter turbocharged and inter-cooled DOHC 24-valve V-6
POWER: 349 hp @ 6,400 rpm
TORQUE: 369 lb-ft @ 1,370 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
0-60 MPH: 4.3 seconds
CURB WEIGHT: 3,925 lb
CARGO VOLUME: 21.8 cubic feet
TIRES: Dunlop Sport Maxx RT 265/30 ZR-20
FUEL ECONOMY Combined/city/highway: 23/20/27 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 21.9 mpg
PROS: Superb handling, beautiful interior, handsome from all angles
CONS: Lack of rear-seat headroom