The story behind of my fascination and purchasing of a 2011 S5 coupé all started in 2008 when I learned of the Audi A5/S5 coupés. I was struck by the updated Audi single-frame grille, by the menacing face, the luscious and flowing lines and the brand new interior. At that point, it was my goal to somehow save up and pick up an A5 3.2 S-Line.
Over the next several months and with information leaking out about the 2009 model year A5 and S5, I got more excited about the thought of being able to test drive one. The problem was, it was near impossible to find an A5 with the S-Line package that hasn’t already been spoken for. It was that time that I also started to consider an Infiniti G37 coupé and a BMW 335i coupé with xDrive. While both were faster than the A5 3.2, I wanted to look at what I could get for roughly the same amount of money as a moderately equipped A5.
The Infiniti would provide the best bang for the buck, but I could not shake off the somewhat chintzy interior nor could I find a way to like the slab rear-end. That left the BMW 335i, which I stilled considered for a while until the 335is became available. More on that in a bit. The 2009 model year also brought the Audi Drive Select package, as well as the rumors that the 2010 model year would bring a supercharged V6 3.0-litre engine and an optional dual-clutch transmission to the S5. Those rumors made me question whether or not I should get an optioned-out A5 or a moderately optioned S5.
At that time, I found out that the local Audi dealer had an S5 available and I wanted to check it out up close. It was Meteor Gray and I was more concerned about how I would fit in one, how comfortable it would be and if it would work for hauling server and network equipment for work. I was concerned about the S5 sport seats, thinking it would be too small and firm; in fact, it was the complete opposite. The seats cradled me just right and the slide-out leg support made it even better. I wasn’t looking for a test drive, as I didn’t want to potentially spoil a test drive of an A5.
Later that year, earlier indications and rumors of a supercharged 3.0-litre engine and the S-Tronic transmission for the 2010 model year S5 faded away. Instead, the drivetrain ended up in the S4 and the S5 cabriolet. Rumors started swirl around that the drivetrain would be available in the 2011 S5 coupé. Well, that turned out to be wrong as well.
In the meantime, I started to re-think the idea of getting an A5 3.2 with the Tiptronic transmission and the urge to learn how to drive with a manual transmission ran through me. Unfortunately, Audi dropped the manual transmission from the 3.2 and they would eventually kill off the 3.2 for the 2011 model year. With that relevation and with the cost of a loaded A5 3.2 S-Line with Tiptronic was within a couple thousand dollars of an S5. That is when I decided to save up even more money and attain one of my dreams since owning an Audi: own an S model.
That is also about the same time that I started to also consider the BMW products: 335i xDrive, 335is and a stripped down M3 coupé. After test driving an 335i (no xDrive model with the M Sport package was available) with a Steptronic transmission, I was almost sold on the handling and rear-wheel drive dynamics. The interior was not what I expected, particularly in-person, from a near-luxury sedan or coupé. Also, I didn’t feel 100% comfortable in the seats or the overall layout of the cockpit. Still, it was on my short list.
At this point, I had some practice with driving a car with a manual transmission, but was still quite green and very nervous. Nonetheless, I decided to see how an S5 with the 6-speed manual would be like to drive and scheduled a test drive. I was freaking shocked that the sales associate would allow me to test drive a manual with limited experience… but he also understood that I wanted to make an informed decision. So I did a short test drive, stalled the car a couple of times, but I was also a complete nervous wreck. The associate did try to re-assure me and calm my nerves. The main result of that test drive was that I wanted to learn how to drive a manual even more and that I would order an S5 with a manual. The other result? I then wanted the V8. The burble and the smooth power delivery (at least when the associate drove) were what sold me; plus, going from a V8 in an SHO to a V6 in the A4 made me yearn to have something like a V8 again.
I also had learned that the 2011 S5 coupé would get to keep the V8, so I made up my mind: I would place a deposit for one as soon as I could. In the meantime, I started to pick out what the S5 would look like and what options it would have. At first, I had decided on Meteor Gray (a color that I had wanted since I dreamed about getting an A5), all black leather interior, alunimum inlays, MMI with navigation and the Audi Drive Select package.
My decision to go with Meteor Gray was shattered when I saw a Sprint Blue S5 with the same interior at the local dealer’s Oktoberfest event. The color just popped, shimmered and sparkled throughout as the Sun swept towards the horizon. Another change that I made to my want list was to drop the full Audi Drive Select package for just the Sports Rear Differential package. There wasn’t enough of a consensus on whether it would be worth the extra cost. I also decided to opt for the Carbon Atlas inlays as I wasn’t that impressed with the aluminum inlays in the S5 that I test drove.
I was bent on getting an all-leather seats until I had a chance to feel what the Alcantara inserts would be like. At that point, I started to get concerned about how dark an all-black interior would be and got intrigued with the Black/Silver seats. I found a Fourtitude article which had on essentially the same S5 that I wanted and it also had the Black/Silver seats, but had the tri-spoke wheels that I didn’t like. From the pictures, the “silver” seemed to be just barely off-white. I was worried that it would get stained too easily or would not age well; on the flip side, it just makes the interior stand out in the same way that the Sprint Blue paint makes the S5 stand out in a crowd.
At the beginning of April, I contacted the original sales associate that gave me a tour of an S5 when I was still set on getting an A5. I worked out the custom order for the S5 and confirmed the price for the Prestige trim and the B&O sound system as the last items that I opted for. On my birthday, I had an appointment to put down the deposit. Within two weeks, I had a commission number and a rough ETA of early September. I started to work with the credit union to get the final approval for the loan and, most importantly, started to learn how to drive a manual properly with the help of a gracious friend.
Throughout June, July and early August, I would practice for about an hour after work in his Honda Element (yep, they were available with a 5-speed until Honda decided to drop it) several times a week. It started with the starting from a dead stop, then reverse, then hills starts (with and without using the parking brake) and finally out on the open roads. Throughout the process, there were dozens and dozens of stalls, but I was excited and found it to be great fun. By the time I found out that my S5 had already arrived at the dealer mid-August, I felt pretty much ready. I stopped by to fill out the remaining paperwork and got to the see the S5.
I saw the Black/Silver seats in person and upon seeing them, I knew I made the right choice. It is a bit more cream than pure white as some pictures seem to depict, and it had the right contrast to the black trim. After inspecting the car and taking pictures, I was given a chance to take it for a quick drive. I only stalled the car twice in the three mile loop, but loved rowing through the gears and hearing the engine purr, growl and burble. I wouldn’t be until August 27th until I got all of the paperwork done, loan processed and paid for the Audi Care package and for vanity plates.
I have had the S5 for almost a year and have clocked in just under 12,000 miles. It has been a huge joy driving it and I have gotten a lot better with driving a manual. I’ll document the modifications that I have made to the S5 in following posts.