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2018 Audi S5 Sportback: The Semi-Sleeper In Wait

Audi says the 2018 S5 Sportback “leads the segment in performance,” and who am I to disagree? My question is: what segment is that, exactly? The semi-big coupe, mid-hatchback segment, I suppose?

And it’s not like I’m really complaining here, it’s just the Audi 5 Series really doesn’t need much dodging around when it comes to performance. Audi has, for a while now, pretty much stolen the march on other German car brands, in terms of leveraged performance.

They’ve pretty much owned Le Mans for a very long while, and they show no hesitancy when it comes to putting performance stuff into their road cars. Ergo, the S5, the more performance oriented version of the A5 coupe, is no slouch in either in the go/turn/stop departments.

Power & Performance

Audi’s 2018 S5 Sportback has an all-new 3.0-liter TFSI V6 engine living under the hood. It produces a rather vigorous 354 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. That power band spreads from 1,370 to 4,500 rpm, which is nice and mesa-like. Power from the V6 plant gets to the bahn via a newly prepared eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, optimized for the V6’s low-end torque.

The 2018 S5 Sportback blastoffs from 0 and hits 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, topping out at 155 mph when equipped with summer performance tires. Not bad, not bad at all. The standard Audi drive select comes with four different modes: comfort, auto, dynamic, and individual. S5 Sportbacks come standard with quattro all-wheel drive, because, duh.

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Photo: Audi of America, Inc.

Styling & Design

There’s a wider, flatter Singleframe grille (yes that’s one word, and yes, Audi went and registered it, and yes, I think that’s overreaching) and a longer, lower hood line to highlight the V6 mill. The wave-design shoulder line is more distinct than earlier generations, and there are wider wheel arches. The slim sculptural LED taillights are joined by a horizontal design line to offer a markedly muscular look, and to emphasize vehicle width.

The S5 Sportback is recognizable by its aluminum-optic side mirror housings, the Platinum Gray Singleframe grille with aluminum-optic double horizontal blade bars, S model specific rear diffuser with honeycomb structure, and quad exhaust outlets with chrome tips. Consider it a semi-sleeper.

Interior Treatments

The sophisticated interior of the S5 has seating for up to five, as long as the backseat passengers are not NBA hopefuls or typical Wal-Mart shoppers. There’s three-dimensional decorative inlay trim with climate control integration that spans from the door panels and across the dashboard. There’s also 35 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the rear seats folded down.

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Photo: Audi of America, Inc.

Standard Equipment

The list of standard equipment for the all-new S5 Sportback is rather extensive, but the high points include full-LED headlights, the aforementioned drivetrain, a leather/Alcantara trimmed interior, heated eight-way power front seats with four-way power lumbar support, and driver’s memory. The seats are diamond stitched with power side bolsters and massage function.

Other niceties include a power sunroof, power tailgate, and three-zone automatic climate control with digital rear display.

Optional Features

Options? Oh yeah, you got options. 19-inch 5-spoke-cavo design wheels with summer performance tires, a full-color heads up display, tunes via a Bang & Olufsen sound system with 3D sound, and Audi MMI touch with handwriting recognition. Yeah, I don’t get why it needs handwriting recognition either, and good luck recognizing mine, bub.

The driver assistance package includes adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, Audi active lane assist, high beam assistant, and traffic sign recognition (cause you’re a distracted baboon and need all the assistance you can get). A heated, 3-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles are part of the cold weather package, as are heated rear seats. The warm weather package gets you ventilated front sport seats.

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Photo: Audi of America, Inc.

Pricing & Trim Levels

Pricing? Well, that’s where the bad news starts.

The dollars start flowing right away for the 2018 Audi A5 Sportback: $42,600 for the Premium level, all the way up to $66,700 for the 2018 S5 Cabriolet in Prestige trim, which is about what a new Corvette costs. And I highly recommend you think about that for a bit. The middle of the road, pricing-wise, seems to be the S5 Coupe starting at $54,600. But still, that’s not out of the ordinary for the market and for what Audi is bringing to the table here.

If you go for the S sport package you get red brake calipers, sport adaptive damping suspension, and rear sport differential, and really, you should go for this. Don’t be a poseur – go and get all the performance goodies you can.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.