Used Vehicle Review: Audi S5, 2013-2017

Vehicle Type

Capable of transitioning effortlessly from a comfortable cruiser to a high-performing sports coupe on a whim.

Luxury Performance Coupe

History/Description

For model year 2013, the Audi S5 Coupe underwent numerous tweaks, upgrades and changes to increase efficiency, performance, styling, and feature content.

Ideal for the shopper after all-weather confidence in a comfortable, easygoing, and high-performing coupe, the S5 sought to provide a more personal and passionate look and feel than the similar S4 sedan from this generation.

Cross-shopping exercises should include comparable models from BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus, with many owners choosing the S5 for its distinctively tidy and upscale cabin, and legendary Quattro AWD performance.

Feature content included performance lighting provisions, navigation, Bluetooth, climate-controlled seats, advanced safety features, premium stereo systems, a power-adjustable steering wheel, sunroof, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, full driver computer, and plenty more.

All S5’s of this vintage were two-door coupes or convertibles. Further, a drive-mode selector, called Audi Drive Select, allowed drivers to toggle various sub-system settings on the fly to effect changes to the driving character and demeanour of the car in real time.

Engines/Trim

For this era of Audi’s two-door, four-seat performance coupe, a newly available 3.0-litre supercharged V6 replaced the outgoing 4.2-litre V8 engine. Look for 333 horsepower and a marked improvement in fuel efficiency. Quattro AWD was standard on all units. Drivers could select a six-speed manual, or an automatic transmission with paddle shift.

What Owners Like

The S5 was capable of transitioning effortlessly from a comfortable cruiser to a high-performing sports coupe on a whim, and for many owners, this multiple personality was a major selling point. The S5 is said to be hugely agreeable for daily use, but also very satisfying in the hands of the enthusiast driver. The interior and feature content are highly rated, as is overall performance and the effective and seamless traction from the Quattro system.

What Owners Dislike

Some owners wish for more spacious rear seats, better fuel mileage, and a more positive feel from the gear shifter on manual-transmission-equipped models. Others report sometimes-fussy operation from the MMI central command interface.

Here are some owner reviews.

Pro Tip: Remember Winter Tires

If you’re buying a used S5, be sure to budget for winter tires, too. This car is packed with traction-enhancing systems and a leading AWD system for confident winter travels, but these systems only work as well as the tires mounted to the vehicle – and winter tires are the best and only way to ensure maximum performance and grip in inclement weather. If you run an Audi S5 on all-season rubber in the winter, you’re severely limiting its safety and performance.

Pro Tip: Attention to Detailing

Professional cleaning and treatment of the S5’s leather seating surfaces, as well as professional correction and protection of the paint are advised if affordable. These two steps should be carried out by an experienced professional, and can enhance long-term resale value and protect your investment by maintaining the S5’s appearance in top-notch shape for years to come.

The Test Drive

Check the Connectivity

Spend a portion of your test drive time assessing the S5’s Bluetooth connectivity, by trying both phone calls and media streaming. If the Bluetooth doesn’t work flawlessly, software updates (to the vehicle and/or your handset) may be required. In some cases, a hard reset of the system may also be required. If you note any issues and these steps fail to fix them, components may need to be replaced, though this is rare.

Scrutinize the Transmission

Some owners have reported transmission problems that may appear as a hiccup, surge, slam, or general clumsiness when the S-Tronic automatic gearbox shifts up and down through its gear ratios. Though this problem seems to affect a relatively small portion of units, it’s worth being on the lookout for – so pay close attention to the operation of this transmission during light, moderate, and full throttle operation. If the (automatic) transmission in the S5 you’re considering seems to have trouble shifting smoothly and consistently, have a dealer technician investigate. Usually, the fix is a simple and cheap software update or system reset, though shoppers are best advised to ensure that’s the case before forking over any cash.

Further, on manual-equipped models, assume that the clutch is toast and that the seller would rather you foot the bill to replace it, until you confirm otherwise. Assess the clutch action, listen for any unwanted sounds when releasing the pedal slowly (in gear, and in neutral), and have a technician assess the clutch if you’re unsure how.

Coax slippage from a worn clutch by putting the vehicle in gear, and fully releasing the clutch as slowly as possible, perhaps over a span of about 15 seconds. If the engine fails to stall as the clutch is fully released, it may require replacement.

Here’s some more reading.

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO)

For several reasons, we’d strongly advise shoppers to consider a Certified Pre-Owned copy of a used S5 from this era. A CPO vehicle must meet a higher quality standard than a used vehicle that’s sold privately, or at a non-Audi dealer, and this adds more confidence to the purchase. Buying a CPO-certified S5 means all maintenance work, recalls and software updates are current, giving shoppers less to worry about after they buy. Further, CPO vehicles may come with extended warranty coverage and additional roadside assistance coverage, too.

Confirm Service Records

When shopping for a used S5, remember that the way the vehicle was cared for and maintained is a primary indicator of how reliable and worry-free that vehicle will be. Buying a vehicle with service records that prove all maintenance and servicing are up to date, and have been completed by an Audi technician, is ideal. In this thread, some owners discuss the reliability of their S5’s, with most reporting few if any issues. Also worth mentioning are some minor updates and tweaks to the S5’s software from 2013 and onward that seem to have reduced issues relating with clumsy shifting, carbon buildup, and more.

Headlights

According to this discussion, shoppers are advised to triple-check that the headlights on the used S5 they’re considering are both in proper working order. Some owners have reported earlier-than-expected failure of the xenon headlight bulbs, which can be pricey to remove, replace, and reinstall.

Cooling System

Though the owner’s community suggests that cooling system issues on the 3.0L supercharged engine in the S5 had been corrected by time this model rolled out, shoppers are still advised to have an Audi technician assess the vehicle’s cooling system for added confidence. A quick check should confirm that the thermostat is in proper working order, and that no leaks are visible from this component, or from the water pump. All hoses and fluid levels should be checked, too.

Convertible Checks

If you’re set on an S5 Cabriolet, remember to fully inspect the top for proper operation. Open and close the roof, several times, confirming that the mechanism works as outlined in the owner’s manual, works without any sign of straining or binding, and that no warning lights are present in the instrument panel display, possibly indicating a problem. Confirm that all weather seals are intact and free of damage, and plan to follow all convertible top and seal maintenance, as outlined in the owner’s manual. Finally, remember that a weak or dying battery can result in numerous electronic problems, including some that can affect the proper operation of the convertible roof. Here’s some more reading about inspecting a used convertible before purchase.

Other Useful Checks

Fend off Carbon Buildup

As with the majority of direct-injected (DI) engines, the S5 may be prone to the unwanted buildup of carbon in its intake system over time. Engineers have been making strides to slow or eliminate this buildup in DI engines, though it is still a possibility. Strict and precise adherence to the S5’s maintenance, as outlined in the owner’s manual under the “Severe Use” section is key to fending off the unwanted buildup of carbon. Change the engine oil, filter, and spark plugs well ahead of their prescribed intervals, using only factory-specified components and fluids, for maximum peace of mind. Consistent use of Top Tier gasoline is also advised.

Skip the Mods

With a supercharged V6 engine, this generation S5 is a popular candidate for customization via performance parts for added power. Numerous owners have also installed “chips”, “tunes”, or “power programmers” that alter the factory programming of the engine to increase power output. Just note that this sort of modification voids any remaining portion of the vehicle powertrain warranty and can be detected by dealers, even if they’re removed and the vehicle is set back to “stock”.

In this case, the vehicle will likely be permanently flagged with a voided warranty. Confirm, by asking the seller and checking with a dealer (you’ll need the VIN number and the ownership) that the warranty on the used S5 you’re considering is still intact. If the model you’re looking at is sold with a chip or tune, then consider its warranty voided. Here’s an example of a customer who had transmission problems, attempted to have them fixed under warranty, and then learned that he had no warranty, since a previous owner had modified the S5’s factory electronics.

Recalls

A single recall has been issued for this generation of Audi S5.

Verdict

Most of the S5’s common owner-reported problems and issues should be easily detected on a test drive, or during a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) by an Audi technician. A manual-transmission-equipped model with all service records and proof that the warranty hasn’t been voided by some previous owner modification is ideal for maximum peace of mind.

Crash Test Results

N/A

Beware of powertrain modifications. 1/24/2019 6:28:00 AM