► New Audi S5 coupe tested
► 349bhp, 0-62mph in 4.7sec
► On sale now for £47k
Most Audi A5 drivers opt for a 2.0-litre TDI in S Line trim – a car that looks quicker than it is – combining company car park swagger with enough frugality for a week of M4-corridor pow-wows.
The current range-topping S5, however, seemingly offers the exact opposite; its subtle bodywork belying extremely punchy performance courtesy of a new six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.
Swapping the old car’s supercharger for a turbo wedged between the cylinder heads has unlocked 349bhp and a 911-bothering 0-62mph time, with Quattro all-wheel drive aiding the A5 in in staying on the tarmac all year round.
Great. Why not just get the diesel though?
Good question – because the S5 has always been a hard thing to put into context. The A5 range as a whole is a bit like a decent suit – it makes you look good at work but isn’t something you’d particularly look forward to using.
That isn’t to say Ingolstadt’s executive coupe is bad to drive – far from it – its Quattro system and powerful, razor-sharp responsive motor are crushingly competent, but it lacks the excitement (read: oversteer) of the rear-wheel drive BMW 440i. Great on the Autobahn, not so much on the Black Mountain Pass.
This new model’s updated looks and increased tech offering, including optional trick adaptive dampers, means what the S5 lacks in cornering exhilaration it more than makes up for in all-round ability. It does all the day-to-day stuff of the diesel variants, plus a heap more on top – including offering superb straight-line performance.
Tell me more about that new engine…
It’s a real heavy hitter, which when combined with this slimmed-down S5 results in a better power-to-weight ratio than its BMW or Mercedes-AMG rivals. It doesn’t need lots of revs to wake up, either; 369lb ft is on offer from 1370rpm, endowing the S5 with a responsive, eager manner. Pin the throttle at the lights and 62mph will arrive in 4.7 seconds, while in-gear performance feels remarkably stout.
Its vocal range is impressive too – it’s barely audible in Comfort mode around town or on the motorway and borderline NSFW when turned up to 11 in Dynamic mode. There’s a full complement of de rigueur crackles from the exhaust on the overrun, too.
While the rest of the A5 range benefits from the S Tronic DSG, here you can only have the eight-speed Tiptronic job. It races through upshifts but feels a bit more ponderous on the way back down.
The diesel line-up still promises better economy, granted, but the 38.2mpg and 170g/km of CO2 on offer here are incrementally better than the old car. So that’s progress.
Anything else new?
Plenty. As with the standard A5 range you can now have the 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit display, except there’s an S5-specific dial layout (massive rev counter right in the middle) plus an an S-specific bodykit, front grille, air inlets, silver door mirrors and 19-inch wheels.
Optional adaptive dampers are now available for £900, and an option that we would heartily recommend due to their ability to neutralise those big wheels and a 23mm suspension drop. We drove an A5 and adaptive S5 back-to-back and vastly preferred the latter.
This set-up doesn’t transform the S5 into a driving enthusiast’s dream, even with the optional sports differential, but it grips and goes where rear-driven rivals (and their passengers) would squirm uncomfortably.
While it’s still a bit one-dimensional there’s some fun to be had thanks to pointy steering and impressive mid-corner poise. Again, evolutionary improvements on the old car, but improvements none the less.
The new Audi S5 is certainly fast enough and under the right conditions can deliver some laughs but, on the whole, it delivers a very usable and easy-to-access experience rather than an adrenaline-charged one.
For long daily trips it’s no more belligerent than its better-selling diesel stablemates, and that’s to be commended in an executive daily that can keep up with two-seater sports cars.
It’s still not a completely compelling thing but all of those small changes add up to a big improvement, and if you’re after a more grown-up sports coupe then the S5 has never looked better
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