Thunder, lightning and blue sky - all at once? Sounds crazy, but here it is - the new Audi S5 Sportback. Racy looks and performance, that blend in heaps of practicality for everyday use. That's the S5 Sportback. This is the second-generation model's facelift that has now come to India, and we have it first and exclusive. And we decided to drive it from Delhi to Jaipur to get a real feel for its dexterity and dynamics, in city and highway traffic. And also, on some winding roads. In all I spent 5 days with the car and covered well over 500 kms of varied driving, to bring you this exclusive review. In many ways, the Audi S5 Sportback is the right model for India - sufficiently sporty and powerful, and yet not all-out mad like the RS5. So, it is the kind of car you can use every day, and yet switch tyres and take to the track. There is plenty of power and torque.
So you may find me using the word 'practical' repeatedly. Because it really is. It even gets an efficiency mode for crying out loud, and yes, I managed a healthy 13 kmpl over a distance of about 100 kilometres on it. That was before I switched drive modes of course, and stopped caring about the mileage! The S5's 3-litre, 6-cylinder engine is really sweet. It's been at the heart of what Audi engineering has been doing. It is rather refined; the power delivery is also satisfying. The digits then, and yes, the V6 is near perfection. You will find that the max power kicks in nicely through a reasonably healthy rpm band, but it is the deliciously generous dose of torque that traverses a wide range that'll make you smile even more. The absolutely terrific ZF derived 8-Speed gearbox is... well... absolutely terrific.
|Audi S5 Sportback||3.0 litre V6 TFSI|
|Max Power||349 bhp @ 5400-6400 rpm|
|Peak Torque||500 Nm @ 1370-4500 rpm|
You will perhaps get a little bit of a lag, especially when you are in Comfort mode - and more so between the 2nd and 3rd gear. But you can overcome that, by using Audi's Drive Select and going to Dynamic. The entire character changes. Not only is the response more immediate, but you also have much more exciting acceleration and sound. That's something a driving enthusiast will enjoy.
In the Indian context, the Sportback body style is better than the two-door or the coupé/convertible. And that's where Audi has played it very smart. Not only is the design very aggressive and sporty on the outside and on the inside, but you still get great dynamics, a lot of acceleration and fun, and you also get a terrific engine note. Yes, the sweet, sweet sound of a finely tuned and racy V6 motor. This may well be the last S5 without an electric boost of some kind, so relish this. The absolutely aggressive performance of this car comes with a velvet glove, so it will not intimidate you, nor lull you into a sedated stupor. That is why in many ways for an Indian buyer seeking this blend of luxury, everyday usage and performance, the Audi S5 would make for a smarter choice than something more fundamentally directed at pure dynamics like the BMW M340i.
Ride and Handling
The suspension is very supple, and the tuning is just right for our conditions. While it is rightly stiff, you will find the ride quality to be very comfortable. This is thanks to the S Sport suspension, that gets variable damping control. The steering on the S5 is a delight, with the right amount of stiffness and precision. The car handles very well, and will not give you a sense of its ample length or substantial wheelbase. Quattro all-wheel drive is also standard. The car also gets torque vectoring that works in conjunction with the Quattro system, there is a sharp improvement in handling, and the response on corners is great.
Now in all the facelifts you get changes in the body, but I will begin by speaking of the part that hasn't changed. It's a line that climbs out of the headlight, and almost lazily, languidly makes its way back; yet picks up speed, gets a little organic - as it hits the taillight. Audi calls it the 'tornado line'. Lots of models have it, but I think it is at its most expressive in the A5 family - and therefore in the S5 and RS5 too. I love it, and I am glad it's still there because it's a defining character for the design of this car. And I'm glad the facelift retains it. What has changed? It's an all-new treatment for the diffuser and the LED taillights. There is a much more pronounced and very obviously larger spoiler on the boot lid. In the face, the grille is wider with metallic elements that look cool. The metal around the grille and fog lamp housing give the car's face its defining character.
No points for guessing, I love the colour of the car with me. It is called Turbo Blue, and while the colour has been seen before on everything from an S-Presso to a Verna, it totally rocks on the S5. And I think that is more so due to the above-mentioned elements. You also get Matrix LED headlights which adds to the bejewelled look.
Tech and Interior
There are upgrades inside too, especially on the tech side. While you don't get the new dual glass-finish screens that you are seeing across newer Audis you still get a huge upgrade on the MMI. So, the rotary dial controller is gone, and you have a touchscreen that's 10.1 inches. It's really nice and clear, easy to use, has haptic feedback, and I like the graphics on it. Speaking of graphics, the virtual instrument cluster (or the virtual cockpit as Audi calls it) is something Audi started, and especially on A5 family! The S5 gets a sharper cluster in terms of graphics and the quality of the screen and animations is superb. You have 3-zone climate control, 'rotor grey' alcantara and leather sports seats up front with S embossing in them, and you also have a 19-speaker B&O sound system.
The S5 has a surprisingly roomy and comfortable rear seat. And yes, that includes the headroom. The rear also has its own temperature control, thanks to that 3 zone climate control. And how can I forget? There's a panoramic sunroof too. The fact that this is actually a hatchback - yes that is why the Sportback name - also means that you get more boot space (480 litres) than expected in a car like this. That adds to the practicality.
Also Read: Audi RS5 Coupe Review
The Audi S5 is expected to launch soon at a price point of around ₹ 75-80 lakh. It is a niche model, and also given that it will be a direct import - so that price is more attractive than you think. But with BMW assembling the M340i locally, an over 10 lakh price difference between the two in favour of the Bimmer. But it is good to see Audi getting us many brand shaping and relevant models. And especially a car like the S5 - which arrives at a time when many premium brands are once again showing some love to the sedan space.