I'm not a regular in this part of the forum being an S3 owner, but I've just visited Revo / Stasis HQ in Daventry for a software update on my car, and whilst I was there I was lucky enough to test out their new S5 Sportback for a day.
I'll be honest (and apologies in advance), whilst I love the S5 from an aesthetic perspective I've never been 100% sold on it's dynamic capability, especially in V8 guise. I don't dispute it's a very quick car, but coming from a car that runs a fairly advanced state of forced induction tune the V8 felt just a touch lazy (you could say linear) in it's power delivery. The soundtrack once the taps are opened is a divine aural symphony, but the delivery of that power was so smooth the car almost felt like it was lacking something. It was quite a disappointment that a car with such a glorious engine didn't push the buttons I was expecting, and given the low cost benefit ratio of NA tuning it no longer looked a viable car for us now, or in the future.
Cue the 3.0 V6 TFSi that first appeared in the cab model, it has now been installed in the sportback and so Revo tell me the latest facelift version of the coupe. I'd initially been confused after I saw one on the road wearing a V6T moniker on it's front wing and thought it must be turbocharged, but this misinterpretation was soon righted after a quick visit to Audi UK's web site where I learned it was actually supercharged! Slightly unusual I initially thought given Audi's predominant use of the tubby, but the more I considered it the more it sounded like good sense as it would overcome any of the lag issues some of us get with the K04.
Fast forward about six months and I'm kicking around Revo HQ waiting for a software revision when their head of service & support kindly offers me an opportunity to take their S5 for a spin. Be rude not too, so I took the keys and headed off on the A361 in the direction of Banbury.
The car is running Revo's Challenge Edition Spec in mode 2 (for 98-100RON fuel), and this consists of:
- Remap (Stage 1 - Performance mode 2)
- Full exhaust system (Milltek)
- Uprated sway bars
- Uprated air filter (not sure what brand)
- Stasis 6 pot uprated disks / pads
- Stasis forged rims 20"
- Bilstein B16 coilovers
Figures at the flywheel on the standard car are about 350bhp, but stage 1 mode 2 is pushing an additional 65bhp so a full fat 415bhp is on tap, with comparative torque figures in lb/ft respectively.
I'll be honest, my bum dyno loses much in the way of accuracy beyond about 300bhp, and I resort to using various expletives and colloquialisms to categorise the pace of a car beyond that point. As I pulled out of the industrial estate the car felt typically S5 (civilised, comfortable), but at this stage the car was set in 'D'. As I got on to the 'A' road, I flicked the gear selector across to the left, turned off the traction control, placed my hands at a quarter to three on the wheel, blipped down a gear on the paddle shift and planted the throttle.
iPhone sound clip (lo quality)
There had been hints of what to expect performance wise as the car felt quite a bit firmer and more poised than a factory car, but as the car launched up the road even I was taken aback by the relentless surge of pace that just kept coming. My license is a vital part of my job, so there were limits to what I could test on UK roads, but at NO point during the morning did the car ever feel out of puff. Now I could drone on and on for hours in fine detail as to my perceptions of this that and the other, but to be honest I think it's something you have to experience first hand to appreciate, so I'm going to do my best to capture the essence of my opinions in a few bullet points which will make this much easier to consume. Anyone with other questions can ask them specifically later on. I drove the car for about 50 miles across a range of road types (B/A/M), and have opinions on all.
- 1 - ENGINE: A peach; yes the V8 has charm, but the supercharger on the V6 offers so much immediate punch, and extends the scope of significantly improved performance with some very simple upgrades. I'd loved to have driven the car standard to compare and contrast, but I can say hand on heart (I'm used to 360bhp with less weight than an S5), that this engine is stunningly quick in tuned state. It delivers the kind of urgency and pace which pushes you firmly into your seat and makes overtaking an absolute breeze. This car is not equipped with an uprated pulley, but if I'm honest I'm not sure unless your looking to build a v-maxxer that you'd even want to consider it.
- 2 - TRANSMISSION: With no disresepct I don't like the way 'auto' Audi's (of any flavour / car) manage gear changes in 'D' mode. I'm sure it's efficient, economical and reliable but I find it tedious, waring and dull. I suppose it gives owners a car with a Jeckyl and Hyde personality offering the best of two completely different worlds?? The only reason I could overlook the docile nature of 'D' mode is that the woeful fuel economy may see slight improvement as it lumbers through all seven gears. As a piece of technical engineering the gearbox is a masterpiece, the changes are seamless (if mistimed). However switch to S mode and a drive becomes a completely different experience. Swift changes in either direction with a generous amount of user control afforded by the system before it assumes auto pilot. The gearbox felt unaffected by the 60bhp power hike, and there was no lurching or sense of strain on the box. The 7 speed is also great for cruising.
- 3 - RIDE / HANDLING / BRAKING: Riding 20's with coilovers this car isn't going to be the flying carpet that left the factory; it's firm, and on the UK's abhorrant roads it could feel a touch harsh at lower speeds in and around town. Once your speed increases it rides the imperfections much better, and the car feels absolutely planted. Whereas my S3 can feel harsh and skittish at the cost of vital grip, the uprated S5 glides effortlessly soaking up the majority of the unpleasantries making cross country blats a very pacey and unflustered experience. The one revelation I noted over the V8 version I tested in 2011 was the improved body roll control, with the uprated sway bars the whole car felt so much more planted. I didn't manage to find the limit of the grip, but then it wasn't my car to put in a hedge! The enormous 6 pot brakes inspire so much confidence over the 'S" brakes which to be fair aren't bad, but the stopping power on the Stasis set up is like nothing I've ever experienced, and given their stopping power I noted no brake squeal or grabbing. Very progressive; and something I've really overlooked in the past. Jury's out on the rims, I love OEM look and these wheels sit very proud in the arches. Can't make up my mind on them but they're not offensive if you're budget stretches that far.
- 4 - ECONOMY: I've never heard anyone boasting about fuel economy on the S5, and I'd imagine on a good day you might stray into the high 20's with a following wind downhill, but the likelihood is the low 20's will probably be your usual territory. The modded car delivered 21.6mpg with a mix of driving in the 50 miles I had access to it, which to me indicates that whilst that may be possibly slightly lower than standard its a price worth paying for the performance hike.
5 - VERDICT: It's hard to position this as people's needs from their cars can often be completely different. The car I drove today was extensively modified, and you could quite easily use this on the track with phenomenal results. The Stasis / Revo tuning kit for the S5 is not cheap by any stretch, the bill you'd expect for what was fitted on this car today knocked on the door of £12k. Initially when this figure was quoted my face must have been a picture, but then this is a £50k+ car, and most owners probably might not go quite to the lengths that this car has been treated to. Until I drive a standard 3.0T it's hard to give an objective view of improvements, but I can be categorical in this one fact.
I drove a second hand V8 S5 in May 2011 with the intent to buy. In the end I bought another S3 with the aim of going back to stage 2+ (360bhp). Yes of course the S5 is a better car, it's newer, more beautiful, more prestigious, more luxurious, better appointed; in fact it surpasses the S3 in pretty much every way but one. Potential. For very reasonable money (£5k) a new £30k S3 can be made into a very engaging car. I wasn't convinced that for sensible money I could transition the 4.2 V8 into something that stirred my soul in the same way. You could argue how could you expect any level of comparison, they're two completely different beasts (turbo vs. na / David vs. Goliath), but the V6 TFSi I drove today put that smile on my face in the way that the V8 just didn't manage to muster. In sport mode there was a rawness to it's execution, and personally I believe it delivered the kind of performance that must be snapping at the heels of it's RS cousin. OK it's carrying quite a shopping list of extras, but even with a few carefully chosen extras I still think the package would be deeply satisfying.
I like many others are bored ****less of the auto journo's relentless slating 'S' of cars, but there is small part of me (even as a long term S owner) that quietly agrees with some of their criticisms. I genuinely believe many of the S cars are not quite good enough from factory, and whilst Audi continue to deliver cars with performance capabilities often determined by model hierarchies it's unlikely to change. The saving grace is once you've paid your money, if you're anything less than satisfied there are companies out there offering you the opportunity to make the very best of you're investment. If you own an S4/S5 model with the 3.0T supercharged engine variant and it's not living up to your expectations I strongly recommend not overlooking the modification route too quickly. The car I test drove today was a genuine surprise, retained all of it's OEM appeal and qualities and felt like it's buried strengths had just been coaxed out to the fore (graphics aside it looked great even with 4 doors!). If you're in any doubt, make your own mind up and go for a test drive.
PS: Apologies for the quality of the photos, I only had phone for sound clips and photos.