2019 Audi S5 Sportback vs. 2019 Subaru WRX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi S5 Sportback have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Subaru WRX doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The S5 Sportback’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The WRX doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The S5 Sportback has standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The WRX doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the S5 Sportback’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The WRX doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

The S5 Sportback Prestige has a standard Top and Corner View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The WRX only offers a rear monitor.

Both the S5 Sportback and the WRX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, all-wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The Audi S5 Sportback weighs 410 to 641 pounds more than the Subaru WRX. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

The S5 Sportback comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The WRX’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The S5 Sportback’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the WRX’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The camshafts in the S5 Sportback’s engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The WRX STI 2.5 turbo 4 cyl.’s camshafts are driven by a rubber belt that needs periodic replacement. If the WRX’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Audi vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 25th in initial quality. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 26 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.

Engine

The S5 Sportback’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 81 more horsepower (349 vs. 268) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 258) than the WRX’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The S5 Sportback’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 39 more horsepower (349 vs. 310) and 79 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 290) than the WRX STI’s standard 2.5 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Audi S5 Sportback is faster than the Subaru WRX 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. (automatics tested):

 

S5 Sportback

WRX

Zero to 60 MPH

4.3 sec

5.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

10.9 sec

14.4 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

5.8 sec

6.4 sec

Quarter Mile

12.9 sec

14.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

108 MPH

99 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the S5 Sportback gets better fuel mileage than the WRX CVT with its standard engine (21 city/30 hwy vs. 18 city/24 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the S5 Sportback’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The WRX doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the S5 Sportback’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The WRX doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi S5 Sportback higher (5 out of 10) than the Subaru WRX (1). This means the S5 Sportback produces up to 39 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the WRX every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Audi S5 Sportback comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the WRX.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the S5 Sportback’s brake rotors are larger than those on the WRX:

 

S5 Sportback

WRX

WRX STI

Front Rotors

13.8 inches

12.4 inches

13.4 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

11.3 inches

12.8 inches

The S5 Sportback’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the WRX are solid, not vented.

The S5 Sportback stops shorter than the WRX:

 

S5 Sportback

WRX

 

70 to 0 MPH

158 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

112 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the S5 Sportback has larger standard tires than the WRX (245/40R18 vs. 235/45R17). The S5 Sportback’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the WRX (265/30R20 vs. 245/40R18).

The S5 Sportback’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the WRX’s standard 45 series tires. The S5 Sportback’s optional tires have a lower 30 series profile than the WRX STI’s 35 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the S5 Sportback has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the WRX. The S5 Sportback’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the WRX STI.

Suspension and Handling

The S5 Sportback offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The WRX’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S5 Sportback’s wheelbase is 6.9 inches longer than on the WRX (111.2 inches vs. 104.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the S5 Sportback is 2.3 inches wider in the front and 1.1 inches wider in the rear than on the WRX.

The S5 Sportback’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (56% to 44%) than the WRX’s (58.4% to 41.6%). This gives the S5 Sportback more stable handling and braking.

The S5 Sportback Prestige handles at .95 G’s, while the WRX STI Limited pulls only .90 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The S5 Sportback Prestige executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the WRX (25 seconds @ .76 average G’s vs. 25.7 seconds @ .72 average G’s).

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the S5 Sportback Prestige is quieter than the WRX STI:

 

S5 Sportback

WRX

At idle

40 dB

54 dB

Full-Throttle

79 dB

80 dB

70 MPH Cruising

70 dB

75 dB

Passenger Space

The S5 Sportback has .1 inches more front shoulder room and .3 inches more rear shoulder room than the WRX.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the S5 Sportback’s power liftgate can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The WRX doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 45% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the S5 Sportback, the optional memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle and climate settings. The WRX doesn’t offer a memory system.

The S5 Sportback Prestige has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The WRX doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the S5 Sportback and the WRX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the S5 Sportback is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The WRX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The S5 Sportback’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The WRX’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the S5 Sportback the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the WRX can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The S5 Sportback’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The WRX’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the S5 Sportback to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The WRX doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The S5 Sportback has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The WRX has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the STI/Limited.

When the S5 Sportback is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The WRX’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The S5 Sportback Premium Plus/Prestige has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The WRX offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The S5 Sportback has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats are only available on the WRX Premium/Limited/STI. The S5 Sportback also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the WRX.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the S5 Sportback keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The WRX doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the S5 Sportback’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The WRX doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The S5 Sportback has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the WRX STI.

Both the S5 Sportback and the WRX offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the S5 Sportback has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The WRX doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The S5 Sportback Prestige’s Park Steering Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The WRX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Audi S5 comes in coupe, convertible and four door hatchback bodystyles; the Subaru WRX isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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