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Audi S5 coupe 2017 review: weekend test

EXPERT RATING
8.5
Family cars are designed to handle all the boring but important stuff. They’re safe, reliable and practical enough to ferry the family. But wouldn't it be nice if they were fun, too?

When your family grows, a lot of things grow along with it. Your home, your fridge, your credit card bill; all will expand relentlessly right along with your brood. But there is one thing that most definitely shrinks: your car choices.

More kids and more stuff requires, well, more car. So you can forget that slinky two-seater you’ve had your eye one. A bigger family also means more costs. And so greater focus is placed on value and the durability to withstand the ongoing punishment meted out by three kids.

Where once you might scan engine specs and zero-to-100km/h times, you instead become obsessed by warranty periods and capped-price servicing programs, and find yourself uttering unimaginable things like “but will stains come out of that seat fabric?”.

And so you enter the world of “family cars”, which, as the name suggests, are reliable, safe, dependable vehicles equipped to handle the family’s transport needs. And in my house, that’s everything from school and sport runs to towing a trailer full of junk to lugging a full load of holiday gear on long-haul roadtrips.

It’s a stunning car from every angle, with a look that promises some serious performance.

But wouldn’t it be nice to add a little bit of driving fun to that list?

Enter the 2017 Audi S5 Coupe. It might wear a sticker price of $105,800, but it’s a stunning car from every angle, with a look that promises some serious performance. Sure, its two doors, four seats and beautifully sculpted roofline don’t immediately scream “family friendly”. But hell, this is my kind of daily driver.

Audi's S cars are known for balancing the practicality required to complete the day-to-day chores with the ability to have some fun every once in a while. Which, conveniently, sounds a lot like one of my weekends.

So how would this new S5 Coupe handle family duties?

Saturday Business

The day kicked off at the usual terrifying hour as we set off for one of the kid’s football matches. Spotting the car for the first time, there was genuine excitement from the mini ones, with a unified chorus of “coooool” as they approached the S5 Coupe.

However, after opening the door to allow them access to the back seats the mood fell a little flat. The big grins were replaced by the realisation that two of them would soon be squeezing into the rear, while one would get to ride up front. Numerous games of rock-paper-scissors ensued to determine the front seat winner and the back seat losers. Ten minutes later, we were off.

Upfront is definitely the place to be in this car. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) Upfront is definitely the place to be in this car. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

Upfront is definitely the place to be in this car. In my driving position (I’m 180cm tall) the eight-year-old twins (who lost out) had little more than a couple of inches of spare leg space in the rear seats. Adults would definitely be feeling a little cramped back there.

The  8yr old twins had little more than a couple of inches of leg space. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) The 8yr old twins had little more than a couple of inches of leg space. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

The cabin interior overall, though, is a real highlight here. The design and materials used throughout are excellent, and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit - a huge digital screen that replaces the traditional dials in the driver’s binnacle - takes centre stage, and it makes a huge difference to how you read things like navigation instructions.

  • Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit' takes front and centre stage. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit' takes front and centre stage. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)
  • The cabin interior overall, though, is a real highlight here. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) The cabin interior overall, though, is a real highlight here. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

Following a crushing defeat at the football it was off to netball, and I steeled myself to engage in the usual game of parking-spot roulette in the five blocks surrounding the courts.

Of the five driving modes on offer, ‘Auto’ setting was my pick of the bunch for bouncing around the burbs. The car was relatively unbothered by speed humps, however the firm ride was more noticeable on some of the bigger potholes. Upon finally locating a car spot, the reversing camera and many parking sensors made light work of parking.

After morning sport came the part of the weekend I’d been dreading – a trip to Ikea. I needed to return a number of items and exchange another. Audi claims the boot space is 465 litres with the rear seats in place, and on first impression it looks surprisingly large. With the rear seats folded down (40/20/40 split). the flat-pack furniture box I was returning managed to fit without issue. Result.

Surprisingly large and usable 465 litres of boot space. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) Surprisingly large and usable 465 litres of boot space. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

Sunday Pleasure

If the sleek looks don't hint as to what's wrapped within the sheet metal up front, the noise made upon pushing the start button certainly will. I selected Dynamic and hit the road (sans kids). In this mode the steering, acceleration and engine note take on considerably more attitude with the slightest inputs eliciting a sharper more exhilarating response. Twisting, empty roads are definitely where this car should be driven.

With its low-slung body and all-wheel drive, it hunkers down around the corners and feels incredibly sure-footed. It’s worth cracking the window just to take in the crackling, popping exhaust and the noise of that turbocharged V6 engine going about its business under the bonnet. Audi should feature a smiling emoji for this setting to denote the perpetual idiotic grin you will wear while driving it.

The 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 engine delivers more power than its predecessor. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) The 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 engine delivers more power than its predecessor. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

Sunday afternoon I did the Woolies run, and this is where things came unstuck. Driving to the shops I could feel something amiss through the wheel. Getting out of the car confirmed it – I heard the hissing sound first, and then spotted the dirty great screw sticking out of the tyre.

The end of any further driving pleasure for the weekend. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) The end of any further driving pleasure for the weekend. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

The Woolies’ car park was the perfect place to change a tyre – flat and plenty of light. As with all Audis, the S5 comes with a space-saver tyre, which is fit for purpose but hideously ugly.

On the otherwise-stunning S5 Coupe it looks like a boil on the face of a Victoria’s Secret model, and sadly brings a crushing end to any further performance driving (check this video from Chris Harris who proves otherwise).

Both fit for purpose and hideously ugly. (Image credit: Dan Pugh) Both fit for purpose and hideously ugly. (Image credit: Dan Pugh)

So, does the S5 fulfil the family-and-fun brief? Well, that depends on the size of your brood. With four seats, I'd have to allow an extra ten minutes for a rock-scissor-paper tournament before every trip. So it’s going to have to be a no from me. But it’s almost fun enough that I’d consider it...

Verdict

I did not want to give this car back. It surprised me with its usability and had me utterly hooked with its performance. It’s sharp, poised and offers head-snapping acceleration packaged in exceptional Audi styling. Truth be told, I would happily squash the kids in the backseat to experience more of it.

Would the S5 suit your family? If it didn't would you care? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$88,880
Based on 4 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$81,480
Highest Price
$89,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 TFSI Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $93,940 – 108,020 2017 AUDI S5 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
3.0 TFSI Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $83,270 – 95,700 2017 AUDI S5 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
Sportback 3.0 TFSI Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $81,480 – 89,990 2017 AUDI S5 2017 Sportback 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.5
Dan Pugh
Marketing Director

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Pricing Guide

$83,270

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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