► New S5 packs more power and torque
► Weighs 85kg less than its predecessor
► Turbocharged V6 coupe costs £47k
Audi’s model range grows larger every day, but the S5 Sportback continues to tick every box; there’s Quattro all-wheel drive for epic traction, mounds of power in a 349bhp turbocharged V6 engine, and a stylish low-slung interior and coupe-esque silhouette – as well as the practicality of a hatchback and large boot.
For the S5, the crucial question is whether it offers the dynamism and engagement to warrant its ‘S’ badge and substantial £47,000 price. On paper the S5 Sportback is convincing; offering 21bhp boost over its predecessor, an additional 44lb ft and 85kg’s worth of liposuction.But is it really worth buying? Read the full CAR review of the new Audi S5 to find out.
What's the performance like?
This is unquestionably a quick car, thanks in part to its V6 delivering its maximum 369lb ft torque output from as low as 1370rpm upwards. Allied with Quattro traction, the S5 rockets out of junctions – which is useful, given how infrequently you’ll be let out of them. The new engine isn’t the most characterful, but its six-cylinder tally does result in it sounding much more interesting than the four-cylinder Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, albeit less overtly raspy than the six-cylinder C43 - although you might prefer the S5's more subtle soundtrack.
It’ll dispatch the 0-62mph sprint in 4.7sec, and does so without making its exertions obvious – the engine is muted and noise levels otherwise low, reducing the sensation of speed. Some may dislike this businesslike manner, but the flip side is that this Sportback is much more relaxing to drive than many other similarly fast machines – particularly when fitted with the £900 ‘S’ sports suspension with adaptive damping control, which (somewhat surprisingly) delivers a smoother ride.
But about the Tiptronic 'box...
Automatic gearboxes don’t come much slicker than Audi’s dual-clutch S tronic units. Sadly, the S5 doesn’t get one. Instead it makes do with a torque converter-based Tiptronic automatic, the performance of which doesn’t tally with the car’s asking price. It’s not uncommon for it to hesitate, and it’s nowhere near as direct-feeling as the dual-clutch alternatives.
If you’re just cruising around, that said, it does a perfectly serviceable job of picking the right ratio. Demand a little more from it and its speed and decision-making capability will leave a little to be desired.
And the steering?
Opt for the £950 Dynamic Steering you’ll be rewarded with extremely direct steering, with the smallest twitch of the wheel at low speeds sending the nose darting. Build up speed and the steering weights up convincingly, though you get very little confidence-building feedback through the flat-bottomed wheel.
The S5’s body control is hard to fault, and the all-wheel-drive system helps deliver a planted cornering stance. The ride is reasonably firm, although certainly not overly so for a sports saloon, while being compliant enough to absorb most bumps and soak up rough tarmac without losing grip. There’s not much of a sporting edge here, though, even with everything in performance-focused Dynamic mode.
Audi S5 Sportback: verdict
The S5 Sportback is sufficiently quick enough to out-accelerate what's arguably its main rival – the BMW 440i Gran Coupe – while being impressively refined. However, with options, our test car was knocking on the door of £56,000 – so the refined but unexciting driving experience means the S5 can't help but feel a little underwhelming.
Drivers after a menacing-looking, rapid all-weather five-door with space for four and a comfortable, plush interior – whatever the price – will be happy with the S5 Sportback. Those expecting a more sporting car, on the other hand, will find the engine too muted and the steering a little remote for lobbing this 4.7m-long machine around.
Us? We’d sacrifice the performance of the S5 for a much less pricey lesser Sportback and still get the chic interior, strong performance – in petrol 2.0-litre Quattro form – plus a super-slick S Tronic automatic gearbox.
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