Home » You Can Buy An Awesome V8-Powered Audi S5 For Less Than $12,000

You Can Buy An Awesome V8-Powered Audi S5 For Less Than $12,000

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Sometimes, it helps to be picky. Dating, for example, or waiting to find the right house before plunking down a lump deposit. When it comes to big decisions, pickiness is a virtue, but it can also be a pain when shopping for a used car with a nigh-on impossible set of desires. Then again, if you’ve ever been accused of being too picky, perhaps the original Audi S5 is exactly the sort of Goldilocks car you’ve been looking for all along.

Alright, so it might not fit the bill if you’re looking for an off-roader or a dedicated sports car, but as a daily driver, the first Audi S5 is an intriguing proposition. It’s almost in a genre of its own, and pairs unique performance traits with styling and an interior that’s aged very well indeed.

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Best of all, 15 years or so of depreciation have knocked a serious chunk out of this interest-piquing coupe’s resale value. You can now buy one for less than $12,000 even on one of those fancy auction sites, and that’s a tempting proposition.

What Are We Looking At?

2009 Audi S5 Img 4848 01416 Scaled Copy

Make no mistake, this is one of the few row-your-own, V8, all-wheel-drive, all-weather coupes ever made. When the S5 Coupe debuted, it featured a glorious naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V8 pumping out 354 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 325 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm. Respectable numbers today, and with a soundtrack you just don’t get in most luxury cars anymore. Buyers had a choice between a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission or a six-speed manual, and that latter gearbox helped the S5 leap from zero-to-60 mph in a properly zesty 4.8 seconds during Car And Driver instrumented testing. Of course, even when you weren’t absolutely on it, the V8 added plenty of drama, as Car And Driver eloquently described:

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When you drive with the windows down around town, you hear a terrific V-8 burble from the quad exhaust pipes. When feeling lazy, you can almost forget about shifting because the engine will take full throttle at 1000 rpm in sixth gear perfectly smoothly. And at any speed, the V-8 spins with an eager and refined hum.

Plus, for the S5, Audi pulled the front axle forward compared to the old S4, set up the Torsen center differential in the Quattro all-wheel-drive system for a default 40:60 front-to-rear torque split, and offered a proper torque vectoring rear differential under the very imaginative moniker of “Sport Differential.” While these tweaks didn’t suddenly turn the S5 into a BMW M3 competitor, it was sharper than any previous S-car, yet still a rolling sculpture of gorgeous design and upscale interior materials. Who wouldn’t want to daily drive that?

How Much Are We Talking?

Audi S5

Although the original S5 carried a princely price tag when it was new, you won’t need investment banker money to buy one used. If you live in an area with hellish traffic, the ease of the optional automatic gearbox is perfectly fine, and this automatic 2010 model year car recently sold on Cars & Bids for just $10,200. Considering it only has 97,300 miles on the clock, lived in sunny California for most of its life, and comes with the desirable sport differential and Bang & Olufsen audio system, that’s a hell of a lot of car for the money.

Audi S5

However, let’s say you do want to row your own gears, and are looking for more of a high-mileage hero. This 2009 manual S5 might be more your speed. It doesn’t have the desirable “peeler” wheels or the sport differential, but it did sell for just $7,000 on Cars & Bids back in May, and it sports a clean Carfax. While 143,800 miles is on the high end, it’s not something to fear in these cars, and that low, low hammer price makes it intriguing.

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2009 Audi S5 Img 4865 01446 Scaled

Alright, so what about an example that falls somewhere in between the black S5 and the silver S5? Well, how about this blue 2009 S5? It sold on Bring A Trailer late last year for just $9,700, had 106,000 miles on the clock, and featured the lovely touches of the Bang & Olufsen sound system and the six-speed manual gearbox. Talk about temptation.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong On A V8 Audi S5?

Audi S5 V8

I know what you’re probably thinking — don’t Audi V8s have timing chain problems? While the V8-powered S4 that preceded the S5 had catastrophically expensive timing system issues, the S5 took a page from the RS4 and used its metal timing guides and tensioners. This means that timing system failures aren’t at all widely reported on V8 Audi S5s, so perhaps prior stigma is depressing current values.

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In fact, the most common issue with the V8 S5 is one that’s shared with pretty much all cars with gasoline direct injection — carbon buildup. Periodic walnut cleaning to break up carbon deposits on the backs of the valves is a good idea, so expect to spend around $500 at an independent shop every 60,000 miles to restore power and efficiency.

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That actually brings us onto another potential issue with the Audi S5, and that’s the intake runner flaps getting gunged up with carbon. Thankfully, owners report that removing the manifold and cleaning out the carbon deposits frequently fixes this issue for a few hundred dollars worth of labor. However, if everything’s beyond saving, a new intake manifold costs $1,713.99 from FCP Euro, but that’s a relatively rare worst-case scenario.

Should You Buy A V8 Audi S5?

Audi S5

Normally, heavily depreciated German luxury cars are vehicles to stay away from, especially when they’re high-performance variants. However, with time, the V8-powered Audi S5 has proven reliable enough that it could still make a good daily driver today. Sure, the threat of the intake manifold potentially being too clogged up with carbon to save is real, but if you set aside $2,000, that’s the only major thing you’d need to worry about.

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Besides, where else are you getting a coupe that does everything the original Audi S5 does? From the V8 soundtrack to the all-wheel-drive snow traction to the involvement of a manual transmission, it’s a rare combination that could’ve only happened between 2008 and 2012.

(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer, Cars & Bids)

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Myk El
Myk El
17 days ago

I like the looks of these, but Audi drivers had already established a decidedly negative impression with me. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure Audi as a brand really attracts car enthusiasts, at least not the way I think about them. Audi gets people who like Audis. I don’t see Audis at car events like I do with other German brands they compete with. And believe me, I’d love to see an Ur Quattro show up on occasion.

Kaiserserserser
Kaiserserserser
18 days ago

Where are you possibly going to get the valves cleaned for $500? Any service that allows enough disassembly to have access to the valves and requires special equipment seems like it would be massively more expensive than that, especially if it’s a mechanic reputable enough that you want them opening your Audi engine

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
17 days ago

It’s not that much disassembly or special equipment. A couple special parts like the nozzle and an adapter or three, plus a good-sized compressor and shopvac. Plus the walnut media, of course. The intake manifold has to come off, but that’s all the valve access they need. That’s the benefit of using walnut shells as the blasting medium – a few traces left in the intake or cylinder isn’t going to hurt anything, unlike sand. $500 sounds like a very good deal to me, but not crazy.

Kaiserserserser
Kaiserserserser
16 days ago
Reply to  Defenestrator

$500 still seems crazy low. A quick google and Audi forums seem to be around 1-2k just for the labor, then at minimum you’ve got a few gaskets needing replaced.

Horizontally Opposed
Horizontally Opposed
19 days ago

Definitely a future classic, this design is aging like a fine wine. I have no experience with the brand, what are people’s thoughts on the A7 and its reliability?

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
19 days ago

I loved these when they were out. Probably the last model, except the long in the tooth TTS/RS when it was barely hanging on to a spot in the lineup and you’d be lucky to see one on a dealer lot, that really made me want to buy an Audi.

Smokeysevin
Smokeysevin
20 days ago

The synchros on the transmission are also a known weak spot/issue.

There are also a ton of other clutch issues with the throw out bearing, and sleeve.

Another potential gotcha is there was a weird mid-year change on some clutch parts where if you get the wrong combo, it slips like crazy. I don’t know specifics on that one but it was a major issue on our 08 before we figured out what was going on. It took several trips to the shop before it was fixed for good.

Sam I am
Sam I am
20 days ago

I really wanted one of these in 2011 as I was looking for my 50th birthday present and to break a 25 year string of Mustang ownership. Used ones were in my mid-thirties budget, but the Audi V8 reputation for failed timing chain guides requiring the removal of the front clip as step one of the repair was just too loud. Perhaps inaccurate and maybe unfair, but too loud just the same. I ended up ordering a new 2012 Mustang GT (I know) which served e well for a dozen years needed nothing more than tires and a couple of batteries. I feel the Audi experience may have been different, but damn what a nice car.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
20 days ago

Yeah, I think I’d have interviewed some owners before singing the praises of how reliable this car is.

Tina Dang
Tina Dang
20 days ago

If you want a German V8, get a Benz. These 4.2s are service nightmares. There is a reason you don’t see these and the D3 A8/ Q7 4.2s anymore.

CSRoad
CSRoad
20 days ago

My brother had one of these, I think it made 260,000 km and it was a bit of a service nightmare. They parted ways when repeating costs could no longer be justified. He loved that car, a good take on the personal luxury coupe.

It would be ND from me, but unlike my brother I know to stay well clear of German cars.

Ultradrive
Ultradrive
20 days ago

“Sometimes, it helps to be picky. Dating, for example, or waiting to find the right house before plunking down a lump deposit.”

Solid advice for the “before times”. Nowadays? There is no being picky in either the housing or dating market. Either get what you can while the gettin’s good, or forever be destined to rent. Both.

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
20 days ago

These cars were the epitome of what Audi did-bringing luxury and performance together into a handsome package. Aside from the previously mentioned timing chain guide/tensioner issues(note to Audi-composites don’t work too well in high heat areas,especially in the engine themselves)and the carbon buildup where walnut blasting is required the S5 is a joy to drive. However if you are looking at getting one make sure you get it checked out first (pre purchase inspection) if possible as a lot of them were driven hard and put away wet! A lot of the ones that I’ve seen on AutoTrader.com were rebuilt after accidents even though they had relatively low mileage.

Last edited 20 days ago by Marques Dean
Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
20 days ago
Reply to  Marques Dean

It’s not a problem with composites, it’s a problem with the composites that european car manufacturers continue to keep choosing… which are very very shitty.

Case in point. Ford Crown Vics, Town cars, etc.. have plastic timing chain guides on the 4.6’s and those fuckers can go forever with normal maintenance.

It’s a shame this audi V8’s weren’t a timing belt, at least then you have a fighting chance of doing it in your driveway.

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
18 days ago

There’s a big difference between the way Ford designed their engines and the way Audi designed theirs.
Incidentally the 4.6 modular V8s were way more reliable (and plentiful).
Plus composites regardless of where they’re manufactured don’t have the same heat tolerances like metal does. Chrysler learned that the hard way when they tried to save a buck when they first put composite head gaskets in Dodge/Plymouth Neon engines instead of MLS gaskets,which they should’ve done from the outset.

Also,regardless if they used a timing belt or chain design maintenance on timing related components on any Audi isn’t exactly known to be cheap.
And chances are you’d still end up pulling the engine out to check anything else ,since said timing chain and guides are on the transmission side at the rear of the engine and not up front anyway.
I should know,the Audi dealer I worked at had MANY an S4/S5 equipped with those engines waiting for replacement engines to come in.
Dealer technicians would shortcut the removal process by removing the front end of the cars(headlights,grille,front bumper,fascia, reinforcements,etc.) in one piece!

Last edited 18 days ago by Marques Dean
Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
21 days ago

These are good. The 4.2 motors are a joy. The fact that this one is stick is just icing.

Is Travis
Is Travis
21 days ago

These things have an absolutely timeless body style. Future classic and I would love to own one at some point. They’ve always caught my eye whenever I catch one out in the wild.

YALE70
YALE70
21 days ago

I almost made mistake of buying a high-mileage B7 S4 years ago. Did not even occur to me that this car had the timing issues resolved. I figured it was either pony up for the RS or settle for the newer V6s – which wouldn’t have been a bad choice, but after listening to that 4.2 growl, I couldn’t imagine going for anything else.

Last edited 21 days ago by YALE70
Random Shots
Random Shots
21 days ago
Reply to  YALE70

I have a B7 S4 (V8) and a C6.5 A6 Avant (3.0t Supercharged). V8 all day even if the timing chain guides will explode, gas mileage is horrendous (14/19) and Step 1 is “service position” for repairs to the front of the engine.

TDI in PNW
TDI in PNW
21 days ago

I think ~7k-10k is the sweet spot for used luxury. Usually still in nice shape and, rolling the dice, the potential* for relatively trouble free miles.

*or a catastrophically expensive failure. But what a joy to drive until then. =D

Roofless
Roofless
21 days ago
Reply to  TDI in PNW

7-10k for a used luxury car is the sweet spot if your budget is 15-20.

I’m not saying that to be snarky – you can get some really, really nice cars for that money, but used luxury isn’t cheap, and the repairs don’t suddenly become cheaper because the car did. I’ve got a 20yo BMW which I love, but I’ve paid the purchase price again in repairs since buying it 8 or so years ago, and mine was in good shape when I got it.

Tad Rivenbark
Tad Rivenbark
17 days ago
Reply to  TDI in PNW

I havent checked in while but the cost of the parts to do a full timing chain replacement on these was $5000. Factor in that its an “engine out” job and the labor is gonna be thru the roof. People complained about having to do timing belt replacements on the older V8 so Audi said “we hear you” and upped the game. I say this as an owner of 3 Audis and a few other VAG cars, I have the sickness lol.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
21 days ago

As the owner of a B9 S5, I’ve been tempted more than once by the B8 V8, but more often by the B8.5. The V8 is great but has limited tuning potentialt. The B8.5 is absolutely timeless and the SC V6 has huge tuning potential and no real “gotchas”. There’s also the B8.5 RS5, But those are much more money. The B8.5 is just gorgeous and can be brought into modernity with an RSnav, so you get a nice big screen with AA/CP. If we got the Sportback in the states I’d probably have one, but I just can’t do a coupe.

People love to shit on Audi for reliability but I have two and the newer ones, think late 2010’s and on, are quite stout as far as German luxury cars go. I absolutely love them. They’re easy to work on believe it or not, built like vaults, have tons of mod potential, and the styling. Oh, the styling. Clean, modern designs with no weird kinks, no predator grilles, no overwrought bullshit. Just handsome cars.

Óscar Morales Vivó
Óscar Morales Vivó
21 days ago

The Audi designs from that time have aged really well, I guess they started the giant grille trend among luxury cars but maybe because of that they look measured now.

Roofless
Roofless
21 days ago

I feel like they hit a real sweet spot on design and then didn’t know where to go with it – the first generation of all of the models in that family are works of art, and everything since is the Mona Lisa 2.0 – they had to change Something, I guess.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
21 days ago

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t in love with the design of the A5 when it first launched. However, not only has the design grown on me, but I think it has aged particularly well. Should I decide I need another coupe in my life, I might just give the S5 a look.

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