2019 Volkswagen Golf R vs. 2019 Audi S5 Sportback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Golf R has standard Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The S5 Sportback doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Golf R and the S5 Sportback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, all wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.


The Golf R comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The S5 Sportback’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

There are over 2 times as many Volkswagen dealers as there are Audi dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Golf R’s warranty.


The Volkswagen Golf R’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the S5 Sportback’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 24th in initial quality. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Golf R Auto gets better fuel mileage than the S5 Sportback (23 city/30 hwy vs. 21 city/30 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Volkswagen Golf R uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The S5 Sportback requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.


The Golf R offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The S5 Sportback doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

The Golf R offers an optional sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The S5 Sportback doesn’t offer an SMG.

The Golf R’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The S5 Sportback doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

The Golf R stops shorter than the S5 Sportback:

Golf R

S5 Sportback

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

158 feet

Car and Driver

Suspension and Handling

The Golf R handles at .97 G’s, while the S5 Sportback Prestige pulls only .93 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Golf R’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the S5 Sportback’s (35.8 feet vs. 38.4 feet).


The Volkswagen Golf R may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 550 to 650 pounds less than the Audi S5 Sportback.

The Golf R is 1 foot, 6.7 inches shorter than the S5 Sportback, making the Golf R easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Golf R has .2 inches more front shoulder room, 1.1 inches more rear headroom and .5 inches more rear legroom than the S5 Sportback.

Cargo Capacity

The Golf R has a larger trunk with its rear seat up than the S5 Sportback with its rear seat up (22.8 vs. 21.8 cubic feet). The Golf R has a larger trunk with its rear seat folded than the S5 Sportback with its rear seat folded (52.7 vs. 35 cubic feet).


To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Golf R has a standard rear wiper. The S5 Sportback doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Golf R has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The S5 Sportback doesn’t offer cornering lights.


The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The S5 Sportback has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The S5 Sportback has never been chosen.

The Golf R was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The S5 Sportback has never been an “All Star.”

The Volkswagen Golf/GTI outsold the Audi A5/S5/RS 5 by 63% during 2018.

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

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