Test Drive Impressions Audi S5 Sportback vs Tesla Model 3 AWD and P3D Performance

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Joined
Nov 30, 2018
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Fort Worth TX
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Model 3
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#1
I was in the market for a fun third car for the family. My F250 diesel crew cab is not a good city commuter as you can imagine so the research for a small, sporty, 4 door sedan began. After months of research I had narrowed the field down to the Audi S5 Sportback and the Tesla model 3. After seeing that December was the last month for the full value US tax credit for Tesla and that orders placed by the end of November should be delivered by the end of the year I decided to move my purchase timeline forward from Q2 2019 to this week!

The rational adult would have been comparing the A5 Sportback to the 3D but as we all know long hours of online reading can lead to escalation of expectations and “needs” so the S5 and P3D entered into the equation. I drove the 3D first with the P3D immediately after and later the same day drove the S5 which included an overnight trial period.

The Model 3 AWD (3D): The 3D is as fast as the Audi S5 and does so with much less drama; it is extremely quick and more than enough for any real world driving scenario. The test car was equipped with the 19” sport wheels and was my first experience driving a Tesla. Our family PUV (People Utility Vehicle) is a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid so I have some experience with eclectic power trains but the 3D is in a whole other world performance wise. 5 minutes into driving the 3D the whole Tesla experience felt comfortable and “as driving should be”. As someone who has designed and built user interfaces in the past I found the 3D far easier to learn than the S5 where there are seemingly hundreds of switches and buttons surrounding you. The center screen speedometer was no problem whatsoever and I loved the visibility out of the windshield down low. I loved driving the car and it answered the question “Is the 3D enough to be happy performance wise” (Yes it was).

The Model 3 Performance (P3D): The primary things I wanted to test on the P3D vs. the 3D were ride compliance of the 20” wheels vs. 19”, the difference in brakes, and the difference in power/acceleration. The 20” wheels did provide a slightly rougher ride compared to the 19” but not offensively so; I would say the ride is very similar between the two, maybe the 18’s would provide greater contrast. With that said the P3D had a ride stiffness similar to the S5 in “Comfort” mode, the S5 in “Dynamic” mode was notably worse riding on city streets.

The brakes on the P3D were a very noticeable upgrade over the 3D, feeling stronger and smoother immediately, even at low speeds. The brake performance of the P3D and the S5 are very similar, both being excellent. The power of these braking systems is quite amazing when you are used to a 3/4 ton diesel pickup! I spent much more time in the S5 than the P3D so I can’t confidently say which car’s brakes were better but at this point in time I’d give a slight edge to the S5. I much preferred the feel of the P3D brakes over the 3D, they helped complete the feel of a performance sedan vs a family sedan.

Houuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh and now we are at 70mph! Wow! (Giggling with childish excitement) That pretty much sums up the P3D when pressing the right pedal! It’s hard to write about passing speed acceleration on the 3Ds becuase you think it and it just happens, seemingly instantaneously. The 3D is a very fast sedan whereas the P3D is a amusement park ride that instantly makes you feel 20 years younger. The 3D pulls hard and smooth whereas the P3D punches you back and then pulls hard and smooth. Before this test drive the fastest car I had ever driven was a 2008 Corvette Z06 but the P3D trounces it in normal situations. The Z06 had great power but as a RWD vehicle it would also break the tires loose under acceleration, not only from a standstill but at speed as well. Tons of power on tap isn’t nearly as fun if you have to feather it just right to stay on the road. A quick YouTube search reveals hundreds of owners of RWD sports cars who are bad at regulating their power properly. The P3D accelerates effortlessly at full throttle with absolutely no drama, no broken traction or tire squeal, no torque steer, and no noise. Laughter in the cabin is about the only signal that you went from a standstill to full highway speed in a thrid of the on-ramp length. Driving the P3D can be summarized in a single word. Intoxicating.

Audi S5 Sportback: The S5 was my first virtual love before “finding” the 3D/P3D and I was not let down driving it. The S5 is a very refined automobile and you can tell how serious Audi takes themselves. Just about everything in the car was very well excecuted and the overall interior package was a step, or two, above the 3Ds. Some nice surprises with the S5 were nighttime cornering lights and exceptionally smooth deacceleration of the adaptive cruise control (though it was too smooth/slow in acceleration after the ahead vehicle moved out of the way). The S5 was the nicest overall vehicle I had ever ridden in and though it was very powerful it was notably slower than the P3D and didn’t create the same level of excitement when driving. The Audi was a much more complicated and configurable machine and I found myself fiddling with settings frequently. I felt as though I needed even more customization than what was offered in the custom driving mode to get the car to do everything I wanted it to do the way I wanted it to do it. Annoying things such as noticble turbo lag, multiple downshifts and engine reving in order to accelerate, roaring engine noises under acceleration, and automatically activated auto engine start/stop constantly remind you that you are in a vehicle that is compromised by the persuit of fuel economy and limitations of standard ICEs. I know many people love these idiosyncrasies and resulting unique personalities of ICE powertrains but they detract from the experience to me personally. I don’t want the drama, just serve me the G’s!

If the S5 was offered in an 450hp electric drivetrain like the P3D the processing of choosing between these vehicles would be completely different. However the compromises involved in the modern traditional drive train of the S5 really made the decision easy for me after experiencing the future. My P3D should arrive in Dallas on Dec 17th!
 

SoFlaModel3

@Teslatunity
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Joined
Apr 15, 2017
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8,991
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Florida
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#2
Welcome to the forum and congrats on the order!!

The Audi S5 is nice, but the Model 3 Performance is just a beast through and through!
 

kort677

Well-Known Member
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Sep 17, 2018
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Ponte Vedra Beach FLA
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#3
there is no comparison, tesla's are unlike any other car on the road. if you desire the creature comforts of a german car, then go for it, if you want the most advanced car in the world the tesla is the car.
 
Joined
Dec 5, 2018
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Antwerp
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#5
Man, I'm just jealous. I ordered a new company car just a few weeks ago, and wanted to do the Model 3, but my employer doesn't allow for us to lease electric or hybrid yet. Ended up going with an Audi A5.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2018
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1
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Michigan
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#7
Beast is the word. I just picked up my P3D this past Saturday and took some of my co-workers for a ride, they couldn't stop talking about the acceleration even 2 days later.

I worked for both General Motors and Ford as a powertrain engineer - working on Corvette (C4/C5) and Mustang (S197, SVT, Bullitt 40th, Mach 1) platforms. I've driven some serious performance no holds barred and I can honestly say the P3D is the best driving experience I've ever had. We had an army of some of the smartest engineers to manage the compromise of emissions (power enrichment, throttle drops), response times, traction control and power. P3D does performance without compromise and instantly. The other wonderful part is I have no concern having my crazy wife drive this car (she's from south of Detroit as well and can has had no qualms doing donuts in the parking lot when I would bring home one of the ICE development vehicles). (in Chill mode I'd even let my 70+ yr old mom drive this car)

I took delivery of P3D this past Saturday and swapped out the 20s with Pilot Sports for 18s with Michelin ICE3 winter tires (20s don't make sense with Michigan pot-holey roads). See the photo below of another P3D at the Discount Tire who learned this fact too late, Ouch!.) pot hole pinch flat.jpg