Nope, this one isn’t another of those go-faster, pay-more-for Audis which most of the Indian audience wouldn’t bother to care about, except for ogling at them as wallpapers on those hi-def screens. As things stand, the S5 Sportback is the most affordable 4 door, 4-seat Audi with the capability of appeasing a demanding performance enthusiast. In essence, if a practical, comfortable, spacious, sporty and properly FAST Audi is what you are looking at, the S5 Sportback, with its 63 lakh ex-Delhi price tag, is your best shot.
Oh, and did we love it when we saw it first in that effervescent yellow shade. It’s a beautifully proportioned, tastefully crafted machine, the S5, alright. But that shade of yellow lets the sporty character of this lean notchback pop and makes it tug at your heart harder.
Introduced first in 2007 as a show car in the coupe format, the S5 metamorphosed into a sportback in due course and began its journey on the street in 2010. The car received a thorough facelift in 2013 before being introduced to the Indian soil a couple of years later.
Design and styling
In its newest avatar, the refreshed S5 gets brand new headlamps including new DRLs and a shiny new Audi grille. The seven slat Audi Singleframe grille piece comprises platinum grey bars. The central four pieces getting a black plastic background, probably to create a contrasting enough backdrop for the registration plate they hold. The upper section gets the Audi rings along with the S5 badging. The kink in the horizontal flow of the seven slabs is marked by a solid break in the vertically flanked black lines of the slats. The grille is divided vertically by six louvres. Those with an eye for detail will also find that the Audi logo has horizontal louvres in the back.
Faux side air intakes with honeycomb mesh and chrome lined trapezoidal fog lamps flank a slim, wide opening under the grille. The front design is fuss-free, yet attractive in copybook Audi manner. The strong twin creases on the bonnet lend the face of this sporty Audi a sense of purpose with a subtle hint of power. The doors with frameless windows, when flung open, make this beautiful machine appear all the more appealing and dashing.
The hallmark of the S5’s design is the character line on the side that emanates from the headlamps and tracks its curvy path over the front wheel arches all the way to the tail lamps. It’s a subtle design detail, but leaves a strong impression. One look at the S5 Sportback, and we’re instantly reminded of the achingly beautiful and manically fast RS5 Coupe we enjoyed to the hilt a couple of years back. You really don’t have to be loud to make an impression – true class talks.
A sharply dropping sporty roofline, contrasting two-tone satin silver – black wing mirrors, a shark fin antenna and the sporty tip of the integrated spoiler define the sides of the S5. The car rides on 18 inch wheels with wide and low-pro 245/40 Pirelli rubber. The shape of those 5×2 alloys may not be the most exotic out there, but they do manage to look quite sporty and add their bit to the S5’s subtly sporty character.
The high mounted LED brake light covering the central part of the rear windscreen, trunk mounted spoiler and chrome tipped quad exhausts wrap things up at the rear. The car also gets twin satin silver slabs spanning the area between the exhaust pipes on a contrasting black under-cladding at the rear. The sporty intents of the notchback are highlighted through the S5 badging up front on the grille, V6T lettering on the fenders and S5 labelling at the back, along with skirting all around.
We love the way the S5 looks, it radiates class. And while maintaining its grandeur, it also manages to radiate the power it packs with an indescribable sobriety.
Engine, performance and handling
Under the hood, the S5 gets a 3.0 litre supercharged TFSI V6 scorcher with 333 PS of power and 440 Nm of torque. Now’s that’s the bit that makes the S5 special, and makes it possibly the most economical-to-own, ambidextrous, do-it-all Audi performance car you can buy in the country today. Peak power is dished out between 5500-7000 revs while the peak torque gets served on a wide 2900-5300 rpm band.
The S5 sings once you make the tacho needle swing past the 3500 rpm mark. The engine note is particularly sweet post the 4K mark, and the S5 is one car you wouldn’t mind driving hard all day long, just to to be able to listen to that soundtrack. It’s pretty free-revving too, that engine, and climbs up to its 6K redline and beyond in a rush. Adding much delight to the experience is the 7 Speed S-Tronic, which continues to remain one of the best auto boxes out there, and is as much a delight visually with its sporty globular shifter as it is to use.
The steering feels light at slower speed, and weights up as you gather speed. It doesn’t get unpleasantly loaded as most electrical systems do these days, and has a nice feel about it, even when worked on under load and speed. While it might not be the most communicative unit out there for the purist, it does present itself as a friendly little thing, and along with the impeccable traction offered by the quattro AWD makes the S5 an utterly friendly, manageable and forgiving car to drive on the Indian streets.
While it’s difficult to understand for the hardcore fans, there is, indeed, such a thing as too much power. Those 6 litre V8 propelled monstrosities might look good in the pictures and would probably also offer you your adrenaline jab when you want your guts to be wrenched and wrung until you start feeling queasy – but they also tend to push the hardware to the limit and beyond – and that isn’t a particularly nice feeling when you’re driving on the street. The S5 hits the sweet spot in that regard. The power output is just about perfect to get you thrilled, but not intimidated. That chassis manages the power at hand easily enough, and the S5 lends itself to be explored to the limit, even in the real world.
Driving up through the inviting loops of Kasara ghat, the S5 delighted us with its urgent power delivery, a keen sense of control and grip, and with its heady soundtrack. It’s one of those machines which just engage you, without any caveats.You can exploit and abuse it without worrying about ending up in the valley. Sure, that wheel has its share of understeer, but the overall package is utterly involving and rewarding. The S5 truly drives like a sportscar, without being overly stiff, snappy or temperamental.
The suspension on the S5 is ever so mildly on the stiffer side to lend it its sporty aura without losing the ability to osmose the harshness continually discharged by our roads. What you get on tap is distilled, unadulterated driving pleasure in the real world, which cannot quite be matched by cars which are overly focused or carry an overload of testosterone.
The 3.0 litre supercharged V6 breathing under the S5’s bonnet propels it from 0-100 km/h in a little over 5 seconds, which is pretty darned fast for a car in this price category. The electronically limited top speed of 250km/h arrives without breaking much sweat, and even with all that arsenal, the S5 can be driven to work and to drop the kids to school without a single doubt-tinged thought.
If we really have to nitpick, the response from the throttle, especially in the comfort and efficiency modes at sub 2000 revs isn’t too bright, with the transmission also feeling not as sharp as it should. Mash the pedal, though, and the S5 shows you its brilliance, dazzling you increasingly as you climb up the revs.
There are four drive modes to choose from – efficiency, comfort, auto and dynamic. Shift points are lower in the first two modes for obvious reasons, though the Dynamic mode takes care of this, raising the shift points, and opening up the vocal cords of the exhaust. Grab onto those steering mounted pedals, use the accelerator and brake as though they were effect pedals for a guitar, and you’ll experience a rare symphony. The S5 really has it in it to delight all your senses.
Interior and features
On the inside, the S5 is built the way a premium Audi should be – solid and classy.
Our test car came outfitted with black / brown leather seats with brown alcantara inserts in the door panels. We hear those bits are optional, but available, they are. Seats up front are as good as they get with generous bolstering, great support for back and thighs. Front seats also get 4 way lumbar adjustment, along with extendable thigh support and memory function, in addition to sporty S5 embossing on the headrests.
The shifter stick base and door panels also get a generous splattering of lacquered carbon fibre.There’s three way climate control, a sunroof (not panoramic, though), rubberized sporty stainless steel pedals and generous chrome detailing. This generation of the S5 has been around for some time now, so the MMI isn’t the most modern version out there, and looks a tad bit dated for today’s times.
There’s a top drawer Bang & Olufsen speaker system on offer, which obviously sounds great, through we have sampled better sounding versions of the system on other Audi cars.
The space at the back is slightly constricted in the vertical axis and six footers would find the roof brushing their hair thanks to the sporty roofline. Those with an average height shouldn’t have a reason to complain though. Legroom is quite generous for mortals of every shape and size.
Here’s the interior of the Audi S5 explained in detail.
Rear A/C vents with temperature and flow control along with a 12V power supply
Pardon us for the dirty image, we were cutting it fine that day. The sporty steel pedals come with a rubberized surface to match stunning form with great function
You get scruff plates at both front and rear door sills
A 12 V power supply in the boot
Spare wheel is a space saver with an 80 km/h speed limit
Forget the sporty roofline….
This car can help you move houses if you so wish. The boot is just as generous as it gets
Save for the limited headroom, there’s nothing to complain about those back seats, ride quality included. The cup holder cum armrest conceals a panel which opens up to facilitate direct access to the boot
Sporty looking, globular S5 badged drive selector looks yummily sporty
While most buyers in India would overlook this key fact, the Audi S5 sportback is probably the best Audi car you can buy if practicality, performance and prudence are high up your priorities list. At INR 63 lakh, I really cannot think of another 4 door Audi car which blends in so many good qualities. The S5 is one of those machines which most buyers overlook as it does’t represent a popular, much talked about thought or topic. But look we must, at the S5, for it’s a fabulous, fabulous machine.
Price as tested : INR 63 lakh ex-showroom Delhi
Engine : 3.0 litre TFSI, V6, Supercharged petrol
Peak power : 333 PS
Peak Torque : 440 Nm
0-100 km/h : 5.2 seconds
top speed : 250 km/h (limited)
Check out a mega image gallery of the new Audi S5 below