The Audi A5 is considered pretty sporty within Audi’s regular ‘A’ range of cars. Unlike the other hatchbacks and saloons, the A5 is a coupe at heart. It’s also offered as a cabriolet and a sportback that bridges the gap between coupe and saloon.
So what about the Audi S5? For those unaware, the ‘S’ indicates a performance version of Audi’s regular cars. This means the Audi A5 and S5 are built from exactly the same base, but the S5 is essentially the A5 with higher engine specs.
That’s the bottom line, but let’s take a closer look at the exact similarities and differences between these two popular Audis.
Audi denotes its cars performance levels with the letters A, S, and RS, with the RS being the fastest. The Audi S5 is essentially a souped-up Audi A5 which houses a gutsier V6 engine and gets unique styling elements.
Comparing the cost of the A5/S5 coupes and sportbacks, the 2021 A5 starts at $44,000 MSRP whereas the S5 starts at $52,500 MSRP. It doesn’t need explaining that being a high performance version of the A5, the Audi S5 is the more expensive car.
S5 Has A Sportier Design
Given the fact they’re built from the same base, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the A5 and S5 are visually very similar.
However, on closer examination the S5 has some exterior subtleties that make it look more sporty, such as additional exhaust pipes at the rear, different side sills and red S badging.
On the inside, the S5 changes things up with a flat-bottomed steering wheel and S sport-contoured seats with pneumatic side bolsters.
Both are available as a Coupe, Cabriolet or Sportback
The Audi A5/S5 can be purchased as either a coupe or sportback with no difference in cost. The cabriolet (convertible) costs more.
The coupe is a two door car with a sloped rear roofline, whereas the sportback has four doors. Unlike a typical four-door sedan, the sportback has a more sloped rear roofline, giving it a sportier, more aerodynamic appearance. Think of it as a 4-door coupe.
Although both the coupe and sportback offer four seats, the sportback is roomier and offers much more convenient entry. The coupe trades practicality for the ultimate driver’s experience: slightly nimbler handling and better performance.
Although we’re big fans of the 2-door coupe and cabriolet, we personally prefer the look of the sportback overall. The longer body gives the sportback a perfect silhouette.
Both Feature Quattro AWD
Audi’s patented Quattro all-wheel drive system is featured on both cars, making them well-suited to driving in slippery conditions or on rougher terrain.
The S5 is Faster
The whole point of buying the S5 over the A5 is for the improved performance and track handling. So how big is that performance gap? Let’s compare the specs of the 2021 Coupes (the sportbacks are very similar, but a tiny bit slower because of the additional weight).
The A5 features a four cylinder 2.0-liter 261-hp turbocharged TFSI engine that can take it from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds.
By comparison, the S5 features a much more powerful 3.0-liter TFSI 349-hp V6 which takes it from 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds.
Although you won’t get to legally be allowed to drive either car at their top speed, the A5 maxes out at 130 mph whereas the S5 can reach 155 mph.
The A5’s engine is mated with a seven-speed S-tronic® dual-clutch automatic transmission whereas the S5 adopts the eight-speed Tiptronic® automatic transmission for more aggressive gearing.
The A5 Has Better Fuel Economy
Going hand in hand with its bigger engine, the S5 is more gas-hungry. It achieves a 20/28 city/highway mpg for a combined 23 mpg. Compare this with the A5 that achieves a 24/31 city/highway mpg and a combined 27 mpg.
The A5 Has A Smoother Ride
The S5 has a very slightly lower ground clearance and a stiffer suspension that can be optioned with Audi’s sport adaptive damping suspension. The result is better cornering around the track, but you’ll be able to feel more of the road’s imperfections. The difference isn’t major, however, and isn’t as noticeable as when you compare the ride quality between the S5 and RS5.
Both Are Available In 3 Trims
New A5s and S5s are available in three trims: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige.
Premium Plus and Prestige trims have the same performance as the base Premium trim, but offer some additional luxuries and driving assists. You’ll want to refer to the Audi website for a comprehensive list of differences, but new features like Audi Virtual Cockpit, Audi Pre Sense traffic assist, adaptive cruise control and a Bang and Olufsen sound system are only present on high-end trims.
The decision to go with an A5 or spend more for the S5 should be a simple one based on your needs and preferences.
The A5 is more sensible for all intents and purposes. It’s cheaper, luxurious and faster than you’ll ever need to be going. On the other hand, some will find the extra power you get from the S5’s beastly V6 too hard to pass up on.