Audi 5000S: a car by which others are often judged

The Audi 5000S Turbo is one of the slipperiest, fastest cars on the road today - and one of the nicest to drive. The 4-door, 5-passenger turbo car not only upgrades the brand-new, innovative 5000S introduced in the United States last May, but it reaches a new high in production cars for a winning combination of performance, style, handling, and fun.

Toting it all up, including a silky- smooth automatic transmission, the car is sticker-priced at $22,250, compared with a base window price tag of $16,480 for the nonturbo 5000S.

Like the Quattro coupe and 4000S Quattro before it, the 5000S Turbo is one more example of top-grade technology from Audi, a major arm of Volkswagen-werk AG.

This hasn't always been the case. Some years ago, when people were having all kinds of problems with the Audi marque, the company made a decision to sharply upgrade quality, dependability, and image. The new Quattros and 5000S turbo are the result.

The Audi 5000S is a car by which others are often judged. It's that good! When the Pontiac STE was in the idea stage - a superb car with a European aura all its own - its development crew used the Audi 5000S as the model. So did the crew of the Dodge 600ES.

Besides its zippy performance - 0 to 60 miles per hour in 10.6 seconds - the big new Audi 5000 sports sedan offers a road feel that rivals the best. Indeed, the car's sophistication goes without question.

The engine's electronic control system, for example, includes a knock sensor which ensures the optimum ignition timing and turbo boost, no matter what the condition of the road. This reduces the engine's tendency to knock and allows great latitude in the grade of fuel used. The engine even ingests poor-quality fuel without protest. Regular unleaded fuel is suggested, not the super variety.

An intercooler (which Sweden's Volvo also offers) reduces the temperature of the compressed intake air by as much as 90 degrees, increasing its density and boosting the engine's output to 140 horsepower.

Warning: Watch the speedometer needle! Driving on the Frankfurt-to- Hannover autobahn is one thing, but keeping the car in line with the American speed limit is something else again.

During driving, a trip computer provides such information as miles to empty, gallons used per trip, driving time, average fuel mileage, and average speed.

Both Audi and Daimler-Benz have shown just how smooth and efficient a 5 -cylinder engine can be. Even when cold, the Audi engine reacts quickly, moving swiftly and effortlessly over the road. Drivability is superb, while the braking is predictable and sure.

The taut suspension provides a ride that may be, to some motorists, a bit too harsh, but that's the way it is with a German-engineered car.

Wheelbase is 105.8 inches, while the car weighs about a ton and a half. The fuel tank holds 21.1 gallons.

Rear visibility of the 5000S Turbo could be better - the headrests get in the way. Passenger environment, however, rates an A-plus. Headroom and legroom are more than sufficient.

While the AM-FM stereo system is first class all the way, the seek-scan feature can be bothersome when you zero in on something you want to hear and then lose it as the station selector moves up to the next station on the dial.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the 5000S Turbo gets 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 overall. How good, in fact, are the EPA figures? In one 27-mile trip to the office, I averaged 29 m.p.h. with no time on an expressway, and 22.4 m.p.g., using up a little more than 1.1 gallons of fuel. The trip took me 53 minutes.

On the return trip at night, which took 64 minutes because of slower traffic, I averaged 24 m.p.h. and 20.1 m.p.g., and the car consumed more than 1.3 gallons of fuel. How do I know all this? The handy built-in trip computer tells it all.

In sum, everything about the Audi 5000S Turbo seems logical and well designed. It's no wonder the car is winning plaudits all over the world.

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