Audi Repays Snow-Belt Drivers with S7 Luxury

John Gilbert

The sleek S7 grille ties together all the lateral contours of the car, giving them a launching position.
The sleek S7 grille ties together all the lateral contours of the car, giving them a launching position.

People in the Upper Midwest, and in Minnesota particularly, have always appreciated Audis more than most American buyers. Years ago, when Mercedes and BMW were making huge gains in sales, Minnesota was one of the rare places where Audi outsold both of their prestigious fellow-German corporations.

As the years passed, Audi branched out the same way every company has, adding SUVs to the mix, with great success. I have had the opportunity to test drive every Audi vehicle and whenever I drive any Audi SUV, it always seems like the best of the litter.
That brings us to today’s topic, which is the car I believe is the most stunning vehicle in Audi’s entire line. It is the Audi A5 — but not just the A5, the S5 Sport. 

The S5 Sportback displays creative methods of making power — 354 horsepower and 389 foot-pounds of torque — from a 3.0-liter V6.
The S5 Sportback displays creative methods of making power — 354 horsepower and 389 foot-pounds of torque — from a 3.0-liter V6.

The true beauty of an Audi must be seen in sedan form to be fully appreciated, in my opinion. Personally, while I have wavered in my level of appreciation for everything from the flagship A8 to the economy A3, and I watched as Audi plugged in stopgap models, with the A5 between the A4 and A6, and the A7 between the A6 and A8.

All of these also have sporty models, which only makes sense, because Audi began life as a collection of smaller auto companies called Auto Union, and they lived to race in all kinds of competition. The sporty version is signified by the “S” initial instead of the “A” for the normal sedans.

Of course, when it came to putting its production money where its marketing was heading, that includes the legendary quattro system. The quattro — lower case please — is Audi’s all-wheel drive system, but when it originated it was not intended to churn through your neighborhoods snow-drifts but it was intended to aid racing.

In auto racing, going around a very tight turn means your outside wheel must turn more than the inside wheel on the same axle. Audi engineers came up with the scheme where more torque is supplied to the outside wheel automatically. It is a fantastic scheme, and it works. As happens with a lot of neat technical ideas, the spinoff is often more beneficial than the original idea.

So quattro gives drivers tremendous security in tight cornering, but also just happens to supply great security when you get up in the morning and see an 8-inch snow storm has hit your area.
When the A7 Sportback entered production, I wrote that it might qualify as the most beautiful car built in the world. About a year later Audi redid the A7 into the S7, meaning it had all sorts of heavy duty handling pieces with specially tuned suspensions. The fastback roofline set the car apart from other sedans, in the manner of 4-door coupe styling.

So when my turn came to drive the new 2019 Audi S5, I waited eagerly. Sure enough, while the S7 still looks fantastic, after driving the S5 for a week, the S7, and even the A7, now look big. Too big, in fact.

It’s not as though you’re giving up anything with the S5. The interior is just as luxurious, with fine materials fit into the design and all blending together. Audi always has been at the forefront of safety, and that hasn’t changed. Crashworthiness is a vital characteristic of every Audi. It is the same with BMW and Mercedes, nd Audi has remained at the leading edge, with high-grade steel and aluminum dominating the construction.

As for the S5 on its own, it retains the same beautiful silhouette as the A7/S7, but it has been reduced in size in a remarkable bit of sleight of hand that leaves the interior room spacious for adults front and rear. And with the leather seats to nestle into, you will find each venture in any weather comfortable and luxurious.

LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights keep everything bright on all sides, and the test S5 came with the Prestige Package which includes a Bang and Olufsen sound system with 3D sound, full-color head-up display, and that also provides the navigation system with a top-view camera system, and the virtual cockpit instrument package that includes the Google maps view from satellites that will allow you to zoom in on you own yard and pick out your house.

The Driver Assistance Package has adaptive cruise and active lane assist, plus high beam assist and traffic sign recognition.
All of that makes the sticker price of $54,400, and the as-tested $67,850 seem worth it.

But if we’re talking sporty driving and handling, Audi replaced the previously used V8 with a high-tech V6, turbocharged to reach 354 horsepower and 369 foot-pounds of torque. You can, for the right increase in money, increase that to 444 horsepower and 443 foot-pounds. But, and you can trust me on this, the 354/369 horsepower/torque ratio is more than adequate.  Audi says it will make it from 0-60 in just a tad over 4 seconds. That is partially due to the 8-speed Tiptronic transmission, and don’t forget, you’re pulling all four wheels.

Fuel economy is not overlooked, either. You might find it dawdles down to 21 mpg in town, but it also will rise to 30 mpg in highway driving. I was able to get 30 several times during my week. The only problem with my week was that it ended. I wanted to keep the car for another week, or maybe a month. But no.