The new Audi S5 Sportback is a practical and gorgeous powerhouse of a grand tourer that’s entertaining to drive and easy to live with.
This here is the new Audi S5 Sportback. It’s an ingenious intermixture of parts derived from an existing platform, namely the sexy, sloping body of the A5 Sportback and a potent 3.0-litre turbocharged V6, which can also be found in the S4sedan.
This simply means you get a drop-dead gorgeous grand tourer that’s capable of hauling a family of five, cargo capacity of 480 litres and a sports car, which does the century sprint in 4.7 seconds.
Sing it, V6!
The supercharged V6 in the old S5 is replaced by a new turbocharged one of similar capacity, which makes more power and torque, rated at 349bhp and 500Nm. This increase in power is evident from the word go, and it gives the S5 more flexibility in overtaking manoeuvres, as well as pedal-to-the-metal thrills.
Although some say it lacks the crisp-edged responsiveness of its predecessor’s, any turbo lag, we feel, is successfully mollified by the new eight-speed automatic, which is sourced from ZF and tuned in-house.
As far as automatics go, this eight-speeder is buttery and decisive, and it works in near-perfect harmony with that gem of an engine, which sings a provocative melody all the way up to its 6,500rpm redline.
Grip, glorious grip
More importantly, the car’s all-wheel drive quattro system puts that power down on the road outstandingly.
Whether you’re skittering over slippery surfaces or being a cheeky bastard along switchbacks your mother told you to stay away from, you’ll always able to put the hammer down knowing the quattro system keeps the car in check. On-throttle stability is excellent mid-corner and it seems like little will faze the highly unflappable S5.
Also, the large S brakes are a joy. They provide tons of bite and superb modulation, which hints at the readiness for some track work.
While admittedly, the steering isn’t big on feedback, it’s direct enough and thankfully free of the silly artificially weighted disease modern racks are notorious for.
The car is comfortable, too, when you’re taking things easy; it doesn’t seem much harsher than its milder A5 sibling, especially in Comfort setting.
Business up front, cargo in the back
Inside, everything you see and touch deserves a standing ovation. Then again, it’s no surprise with Audi that design and materials are outstanding, complemented by comfy diamond-quilted leather sports seats.
The S5’s cabin is essentially a plug-and-play from the S4 sedan. This means a clean layout, nice-sized flat-bottomed steering wheel, Alcantara door panels, pops of contrast stitching and expensive-looking dash inlays.
It’s the sort of car you could take on a long drive to Kuala Lumpur and never be uncomfortable at any point in time. The S5’s real trump card, however, is as mentioned before, how much more junk you can fit in its trunk. Like the A5 Sportback and its rivalling BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, the S5 allows 480 litres of stowage.
Sounds like a love story, though. Is there anything you don’t like?
Audi has gifted the S5 with semi-autonomous aids, which in my opinion, is like adding Coke to Whisky. It sort of butchers the taste.
The optional active lane-keeping feature in our test car, for example, tugs like an invisible hand. It can be rather intrusive because you won’t exactly know when it kicks in, even when you think you aren’t infringing on a lane marking. Luckily, this can be turned off, and is an optional extra. So if you’re in the market for an S5; it’s best to leave it out.
Otherwise, the S5, as a sporty grand touring proposition and, more importantly, as a practical design exercise, is an absolute winner.
Photos by Low Fai Ming