Audi of America president Scott Keough says that we will not see truly autonomous self-driving cars until after 2025. Which means even if you get a new car now you could be driving your next ride for a decade. That should be all the incentive you need to pick a fun-to-drive machine like the $60,800 Audi S5 Coupe.
With the S5's 333-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission you'll be putting power to the road through Audi's signature quattro all-wheel drive system. It gets to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and pulls confidently to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
It's possible that you won't be able to exercise all this Audi's potential. In that case you will appreciate the Google Earth mapping that uses high-resolution satellite imagery in place of the cartoonish graphics of most navigation systems. There's also a built-in wireless router providing internet access for passengers' devices.
The S5 is an ideal personal luxury coupe, with fantastically comfortable front seats, a thick-rimmed, leather-wrapped steering wheel, creamy throttle response and seamless gear changes. Handling is light-footed, but the ride is not punishing despite the extremely low-profile tires.
Audi has climbed from the luxury car basement over the last decade, growing sales from a paltry 60,000 a year to more than 200,000 cars last year, Keough reported. Much of this growth was cultivated by the company's attention to interior appointments. The original Audi TT and its groundbreaking "baseball glove" stitched leather upholstery set the standard for the industry.
If there is one letdown in the S5, it is an indifferent cabin full of shiny black plastic. This might be satisfactory for some carmakers, but not one that made its luxury bones on the strength of its interior design. Also, Audi's Virtual Cockpit, which eliminates the central infotainment screen by placing those functions on the display ahead of the driver will be a welcome upgrade when Audi migrates that technology from the TT and R8 to cars like the S5.
While the S5 is a 2+2 coupe, with a more upright roofline than the Audi TT lozenge, its back seat is nearly useless. The car's acceptable rear seat headroom is wasted airspace above a pillion that has no legroom. No matter, the S5 is a car for the driver, not for the passengers. Which—in a time when driverless cars are becoming an inevitability—is as it should be.