There are two types of Audi owner. The first has been genetically wired to the brand, the four rings inserted into his DNA. He loves Audi-always has, always will. The second type is simply looking for a good luxury vehicle. He could easily be swayed by offerings from BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, or even Cadillac. Choosing an Audi is a decision made from research and number crunching. Ultimately, it's about value, a cost-versus-reward thing.
Some years back, most Audi owners were the first type. That has since changed. The cars featured here are owned by both of the aforementioned types. Alan Knutson, owner of the striking S5, is a hardcore Audi man, a perfect Type 1 example. Over the last 20 years nearly a dozen Audis have resided in his garage, including a Coupe GT, Quattro Turbo Coupe, Audi 90, a handful of A4s, a TT and a bunch more. Yeah, Knutson likes Audi.
Jason Baker, owner of the A6 Avant, is of the second stripe. He's played with everything from lawnmowers to high-performance aircraft, typically searching for more performance and singular styling. His Audi fits his current needs: a utilitarian vehicle that looks cool.
More than a decade ago, this magazine featured Knutson's Oettinger-equipped A4. It was a fantastic ride (probably still is) with 260 hp from its turbocharged four-pot and all the right bits. After some time spent autobahn driving in Germany (see 'European delivery' sidebar), his new S5 arrived Stateside. Within a few days, Knutson contacted MadAudi, who had pre-sourced Euro-spec adaptive headlamps and the Export Zoll plates the S5 wore across the pond. MadAudi also pre-ordered H&R lowering springs, forged DPE wheels and 20-inch Nitto Invo tires. Knutson commissioned MadAudi to fabricate a custom intake comprised of both CNC aluminum and bits from Audi's parts bin. MadAudi also built the custom exhaust system, a handsome piece wrought from mandrel-bent stainless steel tubing (2.5-inch) and Magnaflow mufflers. With its new pipes, the S5 sounds fairly exotic-a cross between a big-block Ferrari and a Formula One car. Whether or not it makes power is almost a moot point. A voice this beautiful deserves to be bottled and sold.
Knutson hesitates slightly when asked if this car is finished. Compared to his former Audis, the S5 is nowhere near as developed. "Audi created a tasteful and sophisticated car with the S5," he says carefully. "It's always been my goal to complement, not disrupt, the car's integrity. The S5 is so well done, so complete, it's reduced my to-do list dramatically. That's a good thing."
I remember the stock S5 being fast. This S5 let me relive the experience-and then some. Knutson's car punches through the air with Mike Tyson-like brutality, its forward thrust instantaneous. I spent some time 'punching' between airport hangers, amazed at the responsiveness of its V8. Nothing with so many moving parts should behave like this. As much as I miss Audi's turbocharged cars, this naturally aspirated S5 makes it easy to forget them altogether.
2007 Audi S5
4.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve. MadAudi intake, custom exhaust
H&R sport springs, factory shocks and struts
F: StopTech six-piston calipers, 15-inch cross-drilled rotors
R: StopTech 14.5-inch rotors
*Wheels And Tires
DPE S-10, 9x20
Nitto Invo, 255/30
Power: 354 hp @ 6800 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
0-60 mph: 5.0 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)