Whenever we hop into a drop-dead-gorgeous car, we can’t help but think of that old automotive epithet: “All show, no go.” We hope this won’t be the case, but we know from experience that beauty is often only skin-deep in our image-conscious car culture. That’s why a car like the 2009 Audi S5 is such a revelation. It’s got curb appeal to burn, yet it’s also one of the most engaging cars to drive in this segment.
Audi’s S lineup aims for the middle ground between the high-strung RS models and more pedestrian machines like the V6-powered A5 coupe. As such, the S5 improves significantly upon the performance of its A5 sibling, while retaining that car’s identity as a luxurious yet sporting coupe. The biggest upgrade can be found under the S5’s curvaceous hood, where you’ll find the latest version of Audi’s familiar 4.2-liter V8. Generating 354 horsepower and some of the sweetest mechanical noises this side of a Porsche 911, this is one of the finest eight-cylinder engines on the market, and it clearly sets the S5 apart from its most natural rival, the turbocharged six-cylinder BMW 335xi.