RE: The Brave Pill | Audi S5 V8

RE: The Brave Pill | Audi S5 V8

Saturday 15th June

The Brave Pill | Audi S5 V8

From those halcyon days when bigger engines were always better



You don't have to look far into the future to see a time where the very existence of cars like this Audi S5 will look deeply improbable. In a few decades you'll be able to sit in front of a lukewarm heating panel nibbling on sugar-free vegan soy snacks and tell your grandchildren about a mystical age where even ordinary-ish cars had snarling V8 engines. You can then explain what "an engine" was, and then try to explain the concept of "a car".

But we should be celebrating the S5 in 2019, too - especially given the recent announcement by Audi that it is going to shift all of its senior S models to V6 diesels with electrically assisted induction. This week's Pill is pretty much the opposite of that; a smart-looking S5 with both a manual gearbox and a sports exhaust. It will struggle to get much north of 20 mpg - but it will sound great as it does so.

Audi had a thing for cramming unlikely engines into its S and RS models in the mid 'noughties - this is the company that gave the staid-looking 'C6' S6 and RS6 a Lamborghini-inspired 5.2-litre V10. Lower down the range things weren't quite so silly, but the 'B6' Audi S4 was given a naturally-aspirated 4.2-litre V8 in 2003, the same engine carrying on after the heavy facelift which turned this into the 'B7' in 2004, and which also spawned a brawnier RS4 version.


Then things get a bit more complicated; don't try to operate any heavy machinery while reading this next bit. Audi decided to launch a four-seat coupe after a positive response to the Nuvolari Quattro concept that was shown at Geneva in 2003. But because the B7's platform was pretty much drawing a pension by this point the production A5 was leapfrogged onto the company's spiffy new MLB architecture, and was launching in 2007 a year before the MLB-based B8 A4 launched. The new S4 saloon was given a supercharged V6, as was the S5 cabrio and four-door S5 Sportback, but the slightly earlier S5 Coupe stuck with the V8, now producing 350hp.

Meaning the S5 is the most recent mid-sized Audi without an RS badge to have a V8, but still offers the more up-to-date appeal of the A5's newer platform, equipment and toys. Barring the eye-jarring hue of the scarlet leather - very popular at the time - the cabin of our 2007 Pill is pretty much identical to that of a car that only went off-sale two years ago. And because more people lust after the newer, faster and - as the Germans put it - more dynamisch RS5, early S5s have started to look like bargains. Our tidy looking Pill under a quarter of what it cost when new.

Okay, so you could buy an E92 335i Coupe for similar money and few people would blame you for doing so, but while the BMW would almost certainly be a more rewarding steer it doesn't have a V8.


I remember driving a factory fresh S5 when they first came out and being fascinated by the car's strange personality split. The chassis was generic fast Audi, a tick against almost every line in the book: huge traction, lots of grip and impressive stability when asked to deal with the combination of big speed and poor weather conditions. But there was also a nose-heavy handling balance despite a rear-biased all-wheel drive system, a brake pedal that pretty much put you through the windscreen under gentle pressure and steering feedback so muted it might as well be mumbled from another room.

Yet the engine was truly special. With the factory exhaust it wasn't loud under gentle use, a burbling presence obvious in the cabin without any electronic trickery or sound augmentation. But once unleashed it sounded brilliant, with a snarling enthusiasm in marked contrast to the aloof chassis and a real appetite for hard work and revs. The lazier, torquier supercharged V6 that replaced it was quicker almost of the time, but it never got close on charisma.

The vendor of our Pill admits it is fitted with £1500-worth of AWE Tuning exhaust, explaining quad tailpipes with the calibre of artillery pieces. This will undoubtedly make it sound rortier and angrier than the standard car - if at the risk of setting off one of the new noise cameras we're now being threatened with - but in every other respect it seems to have stayed standard.


While economic factors have certainly played a part in the current owner's decision to get rid - part-ex with "something economical like a 1.4L" is being offered - there is evidence of recent spend with a clutch fitted last month and a service in April. There are no nasty revelations in the MOT history, either, and a well maintained S5 is well able to take substantially higher mileages than the 95,000 our Pill is wearing.

One other plus point is the presence of a manual gearbox. The V8 was also offered with the frequently selected option of a conventional six-speed auto that didn't really suit the engine's revvy character, and although the manual 'box doesn't have the sharpest shift I've got a strong hunch that interest levels in do-it-yourself gears are likely to rise considerably in coming years as interest grows in the sort of cars that just don't exist anymore. While Walter da Silva's exterior design was criticised for looking a bit dull at the time, I also reckon that the A5 in general and S5 in particular have aged particularly well. Barring misfortune, running costs shouldn't be too catastrophic, although the need for frequent fuel stops can get wearing; from memory you'll be doing well to get 300 miles out of a tank.

But wouldn't you like to be able to tell those far-future grandkids that you once owned something like this?


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Author
Discussion

dvs_dave

Original Poster:

5,511 posts

168 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
For a 12 year old car, it’s aged incredibly well. Looks showroom fresh still. This is a good motor to hang on to for a few years.

ensignia

745 posts

178 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
Had one of these for 4 years. Lovely to look at in Sprint blue and sounded nice but understated. Interior was solid but is starting to look its age especially given how good it still looks on the outside.

Dynamically, everything you'd expect from an Audi but fast enough and very surefooted. 7/10 would own again.

baptistsan

1,532 posts

153 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
Ad seems to have gone.

Lovely looking thing though.

cerb4.5lee

11,855 posts

123 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
I've always really liked these and a V8 N/A engine mated to a manual gearbox is something to be enjoyed/celebrated now for sure. cool

Cambs_Stuart

546 posts

27 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
Looks like a nice car. Apart from the MPG, where is the risk?
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PRND

1,468 posts

41 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
Can't help but think you'd be better off with the 3.0 TDI Quattro.

Stopped laughing? The S5 0-60 is 5.1 the 3.0 TDI is 5.9. (If such a thing really matters) and the economy is an extra 20 odd mpg.

I understand the appeal of a NA V8 but in something like this you're hardly buying it for the driving experience and throttle response, so it's only really the noise. Which I don't think is worth the extra expense maintenance/tax/insurance etc etc.

Having had experience with a 3.0 TDI (SE) it has the most jarring of rides which is another thing it doesn't do very well.

Nerdherder

873 posts

40 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
Cambs_Stuart said:
Looks like a nice car. Apart from the MPG, where is the risk?
Exactly, can’t see a brave pill needed for this. Don’t think its looks are ageing particularly well, but that’s a thing I have with nearly all Audi’s. Looks great when released, becomes dull very quickly. Would still happily drive one with a nice engine like the referenced V8.

wab172uk

1,332 posts

170 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
Exterior wise, the original A5/S5 looks far better than the current version.

V8, AWD, & a Manual gearbox. What's not to like?

I really fancied one of these back when they were new. But the RRP was above what I could realistically afford back then.

PRND

1,468 posts

41 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
Nerdherder said:
Cambs_Stuart said:
Looks like a nice car. Apart from the MPG, where is the risk?
Exactly, can’t see a brave pill needed for this. Don’t think its looks are ageing particularly well, but that’s a thing I have with nearly all Audi’s. Looks great when released, becomes dull very quickly. Would still happily drive one with a nice engine like the referenced V8.
Well, the 4.2 does have documented timing chain/sprocket and coking issues.

stevejgt2

4 posts

32 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
this isn't a brave pill write up, its a staffer plugging a mates car.

Welshbeef

36,987 posts

141 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
PRND said:
Can't help but think you'd be better off with the 3.0 TDI Quattro.

Stopped laughing? The S5 0-60 is 5.1 the 3.0 TDI is 5.9. (If such a thing really matters) and the economy is an extra 20 odd mpg.

I understand the appeal of a NA V8 but in something like this you're hardly buying it for the driving experience and throttle response, so it's only really the noise. Which I don't think is worth the extra expense maintenance/tax/insurance etc etc.

Having had experience with a 3.0 TDI (SE) it has the most jarring of rides which is another thing it doesn't do very well.
The noise does make it so much nicer.

ZX10R NIN

14,500 posts

68 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
I don't see these as a brave pill to be honest if you want a nice powerful coupe these will always make the list.

Welshbeef

36,987 posts

141 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
ZX10R NIN said:
I don't see these as a brave pill to be honest if you want a nice powerful coupe these will always make the list.
It’s an unstressed V8 petrol

There is an owner who has a readers car thread on one of these and is doing an amazing job himself of making everything perfect looks incredible. A nice looking car with a decent motor and frankly quick enough for most people

Nightshade

55 posts

129 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
I bought one of these a couple of months ago. So far, so good. It's a great cruiser and the V8 burble is lovely. It's a very smooth drive, though somewhat lacking in the steering feedback department compared with my old E46 M3. Still the ride is far more stable than the M3 which used to crash over bumps.

I disagree with the article's MPG figure though - I get 26-27 MPG on a motorway cruise if I'm being sensible. Of course once you give it the beans that's going to head south, but it's not terrible if you don't need it to be.

The reason for my purchase is I figured the days of the V8 are numbered - so I might as well have a little fun whilst we still have them around. In 30 years time when we're all driving electric iCars we'll look at these days and miss them.

Watch out for the ~£570 per year to tax it though.

SD_1

6,914 posts

101 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
PRND said:
Well, the 4.2 does have documented timing chain/sprocket and coking issues.
I thought the timing chain problems only affected the B6 S4, or have I got that wrong?

Welshbeef

36,987 posts

141 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
SD_1 said:
I thought the timing chain problems only affected the B6 S4, or have I got that wrong?
That’s such a pricy fix and given the price of those models represents a huge % of the cars value

wab172uk

1,332 posts

170 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
PRND said:
Can't help but think you'd be better off with the 3.0 TDI Quattro.

Stopped laughing? The S5 0-60 is 5.1 the 3.0 TDI is 5.9. (If such a thing really matters) and the economy is an extra 20 odd mpg.

I understand the appeal of a NA V8 but in something like this you're hardly buying it for the driving experience and throttle response, so it's only really the noise. Which I don't think is worth the extra expense maintenance/tax/insurance etc etc.

Having had experience with a 3.0 TDI (SE) it has the most jarring of rides which is another thing it doesn't do very well.
Suppose it just depends on what you're planning on using it for really. If it's just to have a nice weekend car or short trips, then a V8 makes sense. Big miles? TDI every time.

Nerdherder

873 posts

40 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
PRND said:
Nerdherder said:
Cambs_Stuart said:
Looks like a nice car. Apart from the MPG, where is the risk?
Exactly, can’t see a brave pill needed for this. Don’t think its looks are ageing particularly well, but that’s a thing I have with nearly all Audi’s. Looks great when released, becomes dull very quickly. Would still happily drive one with a nice engine like the referenced V8.
Well, the 4.2 does have documented timing chain/sprocket and coking issues.
Hmm, that does not sound like a fun prospect indeed. None of the 4.2 engined A8’s in our lease pool had those issues, luck? Or mileage/age related?

SD_1

6,914 posts

101 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
Welshbeef said:
SD_1 said:
I thought the timing chain problems only affected the B6 S4, or have I got that wrong?
That’s such a pricy fix and given the price of those models represents a huge % of the cars value
Indeed it is, however I was asking if the timing chain issues affected later models than the B6 S4. I don't recall the B7 having the same amount of problems but I could have that wrong.

ZX10R NIN

14,500 posts

68 months

Saturday 15th June
quotequote all
As I understand it the timing chain issue affects the B6 & some of the 3.0TT engines but the S5 isn't affected.