The Audi S5 Sportback is a performance car based on the Audi A5; the latter which has proven to be a success globally, hasn’t been launched in India yet. The ‘S’ brand isn’t as mean or powerful or driver focused as the ‘RS’ brand from Audi, but to underestimate the S5 would be unwise. The V6 petrol engine under the hood is tuned to deliver a mix of both performance and efficient driving. And cars carrying the S badge must be fun and practical in equal measure. So, does the Audi S5 Sportback deliver on these promises? We find out.
By using a mix of lightweight materials and design, Audi claims to have shed as much as 132.3 pounds, all while increasing the sophistication of the car’s overall aerodynamics. The result is a drag coefficient of just 0.25. According to Audi, the body itself is the lightest in its competitive field, and it’s the segment leader when it comes to aerodynamics.As you can see from the images above, the front end sports a new design. The corners of that unmistakable Audi grille are sharper, while the grille itself appears to be wider and comes with more horizontal slats running from side to side. Down below, the air inlets are taller and slant downward towards the center. A new trim insert adds character to the outside and bottom edges of the air vents. The hood itself is also more muscular, sporting new body lines, but on the side, the biggest difference is the redefined body line between the wheel arches. This body line is now slanted more in the front, giving it a sportier appearance.
In the rear, that little lip in the center of the decklid has been lengthened, and now runs the width of the lid, integrating smoothly with the contours of the rear quarters. The taillights are now thinner and sport a cleaner appearance with a highlight on the outside and upper edge. The rear diffuser now has four vertically oriented fins, but the model still sports dual exhaust outlets in each corner. I’ve never been a fan of how similar Audi’s “S” models are to the standard “A” models, but at least the new S5 can be differentiated by looking at the front andrear fascias.
There are a few ‘Look at me, I’m sporty’ bits. The flat-bottom steering for instance. It is wrapped in leather and is just the right size. Then there are splatters of carbon fiber on the centre console and the doors, which look cool. You get a different instrument cluster and a gear knob from the RS5 with ‘S5’ stamped on it too!The front half gets an extremely busy centre console that is full of buttons. The slab-sided dash houses a rather small, 7-inch screen that acts as the display for the navigation, reverse camera, music system and the drive select as well. The CD player and the dual zone climate control interface sit right below. The barrage of buttons around the gear lever does seem confusing at first. Fiddle around a bit, and you will get used to it in no time. While on the subject, let us point out that using these buttons on the move, is a task in itself.
The test car came equipped with something Audi calls ‘Super Sport Seats’ upholstered in top-class Napa Leather. It’s an option we highly recommend you tick on the list. The seats are super supportive and hug you tightly. They don’t let you slide around even under hard cornering or braking. The seats are easily my favorite bit on the S5. I wish I could say the same about the rear bench, though. With the front seat set to my driving position (which is usually all the way back and as close to the floor as possible), I could barely fit in the rear seat. Legroom is severely limited. Moreover, the headroom isn’t all that great either. The oh-so-pretty sloping roofline eats into the headroom for the rear occupants. If you are a six-footer like I am, the car’s roof will be your new best friend. To sum up, the interiors are standard Audi fare. That’s about it. The changes are minimal here too, and we’d forgive you if you thought there were none. Yes, it does look similar to many other Audis. But hey, why change something that’s not broke? That said, it could use a fresher looking design like the Q7.
The Audi A5 Sportback in India comes with only a diesel engine. This TDI mill is the familiar 2.0-litre unit that we’ve seen on many VAG cars. Offered in the higher 190 PS/400 Nm tune, the oil burner is powerful enough for the A5 and makes the Sportback drive with quite a lot of urgency. The engine has some clatter which is audible outside while the insulation in the cabin is extremely good and thus the clatter isn’t really heard inside. The powerplant feels responsive right from lower RPMs with turbo lag being not much of a concern. As the revs increase, power delivery feels swift and progressive and the car touches triple digit speeds in no time, with 0-100 km/hr coming up in a claimed 7.9 seconds.
The diesel engine has good surge till 4500 RPM and due to the huge amount of torque on offer, it never really feels out of breath. The cherry on the cake is that the diesel mill is pretty efficient too, and you can easily get a respectable fuel economy of 10-12 km/l which is good for a car this powerful and heavy. The TDI engine comes mated to a 7-speed transmission with power being sent out to the front wheels. The transmission is smooth in its shifts and there are no complaints on this front. You also get the usual driving modes via Audi Drive Select while the gearbox comes with Sport and Manual modes too.
The Audi S5, on the other hand, comes with a very meaty 3.0-litre V6 TFSI petrol engine. The drivetrain is good for 350 horses and the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer is also offering quattro as standard on the S5. Moreover, the gasoline motor gets an 8-speed transmission. Right from the word go, the TFSI unit feels sharp when it comes to throttle response and the car picks up pace so quickly, that 0-100 km/hr comes up in a claimed 4.79 seconds which is just brilliant. The powertrain doesn’t really have a dead spot in the rev band and goes freely all the way to 6500 RPM. The exhaust also sounds sweet and reminds you that you’re driving a performance car. The gearbox, again, is well-matched to the engine and thus does a very good job of transferring all that power and torque to the wheels.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The Audi S5 Sportback is quick to turn and while we had our reservation about the way she will handle the bad roads, the Audi S5 Sportback’s ride quality is not that all stiff. The ground clearance isn’t much (Audi refused to give numbers) but even with four people on board, it didn’t bottom out over the occasional speedbrakers we found on the route. Around bends, the car holds her line well with quattro helping things to a great extent.The Sportback design gives her a low roofline at the back. For tall chauffeur-driven people, the ingress and egress might be a bit of an issue. Once inside, the high belt line too doesn’t help much – you get a bit cooped up feeling. This is a 4-seater at the best. And the car will easily carry the luggage of these four folks – a 460litre low loading lip boot takes care of that.
BRAKING AND SAFETY ;
Braking features of Audi S5 include ventilated disc brakes, electronic stability control, start-stop system and 8 airbags. The electronic stabilization program of Audi S5 includes hydraulic brake assist which makes the drive quite stable even in tough driving conditions. There are fog lights at the front, ABS with EBD, traction control as well as the crash sensor, ISOFIX child seat mounting, anti-theft wheel bolts etc.
The S5 is a rather unique proposition, because it has no direct rivals at the moment; at least not in India. At Rs 62.9 lakh, it may seem pricey for its size, but then it’s far cheaper than any of the other performance sedans. It’s also properly spacious, comfortable and practical enough to be used on a daily basis, which solidifies its one-car-for-all-purposes USP. So, if you want a luxury sedan with a healthy dose of performance mixed with everyday comfort and usability, but also want a little more sex appeal than the old S4, the S5 Sportback certainly fits the bill.