If you want to stand out, the Audi S5 Sportback will ensure that—especially with the brilliant shade of blue of my test car. As I trundled through the city, bikers pulled up beside the vehicle and cars stopped to peer at it.
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The first thing that struck me was the hush in the cabin—it truly shuts out the world. The second thing that stood out was its surprisingly supple ride for what is supposed to be a sporty car. It does well on bad sections of road, and there a softness to the way it deals with uneven surfaces. The ride quality is exceptional, more so because my test car does not even have adaptive dampers.
I cut through the traffic seamlessly, already impressed. With the light and easy steering, I don’t have to watch the edges in the traffic. I could comfortably use this for the everyday office run. The drive is mostly smooth and effortless, with the only exception being the gearbox feeling a little snappy when I demand power for sudden acceleration from lower speeds. It is an 8-speed torque converter, and, except for this tendency to aggressively downshift at low RPMs, it works well. What makes the S5 Sportback more practical is the fact that there is a good amount of room for two in the back and a boot that can swallow enough luggage for an airport run.
But if you buy an S5, practicality is probably not the principal reason, performance is. Rest assured the S5 has plenty of punch with a 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine producing 354HP and a healthy 500NM of torque. The wonderful growl of the tailpipes, the beautiful blip of the throttle as it shifts down, and the flat-out acceleration give you all the sound, action, and drama you want. The gearbox holds to the redline in manual mode and shifts down quick enough, but I still dab at the paddles to hear the overrun. Aural pleasure is a large part of the fun for enthusiasts, and the S5 obliges. When you decide to tear up the tarmac, it will also offer levels of grip that make you feel taped to the road no matter how hard you push it. However while the steering is quick enough to make the car feel agile, I would have liked a little more heft to let me feel more connected to the road.
While the S5 can be a comfortable cruiser or devilishly delightful drive, it is also a luxurious, sophisticated car. Brushed aluminium and black-and-grey seats adorn the cabin. It also has the flat-bottom steering we have come to expect in S cars, and the virtual cockpit, which is essentially a digital dashboard, both of which add flair. The free-standing 10.1 infotainment system is clear and easy to use. Thankfully, it also has knobs for easy access to climate, volume and other functions that I always find more intuitive, instead of just a screen.
On the feature front, you’re pretty well covered with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, three-zone climate control, onboard navigation, a large sunroof and adaptive LED headlamps. However, I really missed wireless phone charging. There are options that you can pick, like a driver heads-up display, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, and a parking assistant. I would advise you to pick the Bang & Olufsen system that offers mind-blowing sound quality—though I would add that it’s best to use it only when you drive in comfort mode as the growl from the pipes is equally enjoyable music to the ears.
On the exterior, the aggressive 5-spoke 19” alloys, the trademark matt chrome mirrors, the quad pipes and the new LED signature lights add to the style quotient. But it’s the striking turbo blue colour that makes it stand out anywhere.
The S5 offers a combination of thrilling performance and practicality that makes it an everyday car—but the impractical part is the price. At ₹79.06 lakh ex-showroom, it is considerably more expensive than its rivals. However, for that extra money what you get is a completely built-up imported car that offers more customisation potential and crosses the divide between family car and performance machine. The best part? Its stunning looks.
The writer is Editor, Autocar Show
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