Sportback 3.0 TFSI quattro S tronic
from Ingolstadt rather
than Cape Canaveral, Audis
supercharged S5 rocket-ship has
a maximum terminal velocity of
155mph and fires off the line to hit
62mph in 5.1 seconds...
ITS COUPE-ESQUE LOOKS neatly incorporate five doors and four seats. For many
that won't matter much because they'll only be interested in occupying one of
them the driver's.
You can't really blame them, not with 328bhp and 324lb ft of torque waiting
to be unleashed by their right foot. And with quattro permanent four-wheel drive
putting all that power unerringly on the blacktop via a seven-speed S tronic
dual-clutch 'two-pedal' gearbox, things can only get better.
What really makes this fast (0-62mph in 5.1 seconds) Sportback feel so alive
is what lies beneath: the supercharged and direct-injected V6's torque is the
pay-off here, delivering an uninterrupted 324lb ft shove in the back all the
way from 2,900 through to 5,300rpm.
the road it feels so spontaneously pokey that you'd swear it's all on tap from
the second you pull away; and it's the same in all seven gears. Inside the luxurious
cabin, despite the four big tailpipes poking out under the Sportback's tail,
the V6 is agreeably quiet until the rev-counter's white needle
closes on the redline, when a lovely turbine-like howl kicks in that almost
makes you want to howl along with it…
Inside the luxurious
cabin, despite the four
big tailpipes poking out
under the Sportbacks
tail, the V6 is agreeably
quiet until the rev-
counters white needle
closes on the red-line,
when a lovely turbine-like
howl kicks in that almost
makes you want to
howl along with it...
The seven-speed S tronic deserves to share some of the glory here for the speed
at which it changes and the seamless manner it whips up and down the ratios.
In Sport mode it's even more impressive. Use the paddle-shifters on the steering
wheel and getting from A to B can be delightfully entertaining. Who needs to
go to the moon?
Actually, you can almost overlook the 5.1-second 0-62mph figure because this
engine's real forte is the stealthy operation of its supercharger that, at any
point in the rev-band, just keeps pushing out the power without let-up until
you hit the limiter with this much punch, safe but brutally-quick
overtaking is a given.
Talking of which, the official economy figures for the S5 are: 26.4 (urban);
42.8 (extra-urban); and 34.9mpg (combined). After a full week's driving, we
averaged 24.4mpg. For those miles spent cruising the motorways, 34mpg was the
figure most regularly seen.
And yes, it so looks the part. Identifying marks for the cognoscenti are the
aluminium-look door mirror housings and 'V6T' badging on the front wings, four
meaty chromed oval tailpipes (a pair on each side), painted 'S5' brake callipers,
LED front and rear lights, 'S' body kit and 'S' grille mean enough
to encourage cars ahead on the motorway to peel out of your lane without any
need of a polite flash.
Optional equipment includes a Sport Differential, intended to make driving more
agile and more satisfying and not only when you're closing on
the S5's limits. It does this by enabling the quattro system to not only transfer
torque between the front and rear axles to counter traction losses, but also
between the rear wheels. In layman's-speak, during cornering it diverts more
torque to the road wheel with grip in order to, literally, push the car through.
Sport diff has been designed to work in tandem with Audi Drive Select, enabling
you to change the characteristics of the engine, transmission, steering, shock
absorbers, and the active sport differential to suit your mood and the demands
of the road.
Drive Select lets you select from five driving modes, each offering a different
take on the S5's driving style; and all at the touch of a button
depending on the driving conditions or simply your mood of the moment, you can
select from Comfort, Dynamic, Auto, Individual and Efficient.
Point the S5s deep-
grilled nose into a corner
and break out the 328
horses and the S5
it simply hunkers down
and spears forward.
To be honest, you dont have to do much to maintain very fast progress...
the different driving characters are clearly noticeable: for long trips, Comfort
serves up a more relaxing ride. Dynamic definitely calls up a very sporty driving
experience, sharpening in particular throttle and steering responses. Auto adapts
to the current driving situation, while Individual lets you configure the S5's
dynamics to your own preferences.
The Efficiency mode shifts up gears earlier and down later in conjunction with
more energy efficient operation of ancillaries the one to use
if 'mpg' is more important to you than 'mph'.
Drive Select and Sports Diff or not (our test car had neither), compared to
the standard suspension on the A5 the S5 version rides lower and the shock absorbers
are modified to limit body movement when pulling away, braking and cornering.
So even if you don't specify all the toys, the result as confirmed
by our 'S' fettled Sportback is assured roadholding, precise steering
and an altogether sportier driving experience.
The proof comes in spades! when you start throwing
the Sportback around. Despite a kerb weight of over one-and-three-quarter tonnes,
point its deep-grilled nose into a corner and break out the 328 horses and the
S5 doesn't hesitate it simply hunkers down and spears forward.
To be honest, you don't have to do much to maintain very fast progress because
your line will be meticulously maintained by the grippy permanent all-wheel
drive. What's just a tad uncanny is that the S5 can actually feel like a rear-wheel
The electromechanical power steering is well-weighted and dynamically direct,
and it contributes strongly to the Sportback's responsiveness. The brakes, too,
come up trumps; but then, with so much power to rein-in, you wouldn't expect
anything less from the enhanced 'S' braking system.
we're forgetting the control room… the S5 cabin is typically top-end Audi
elegant; first class fit and finish; high-end materials. Every-which-way power
adjustable (including lumbar) Super Sports seats with built-in headrests not
only look superb finished in two-tone fine Nappa leather (black and grey), but
they are brilliantly supportive. Extending under-thigh support also contributes
to the first class driving position.
of tasteful matt-brushed aluminium inlays and trim complement the classy tear-shaped
satin chrome housings encasing the distinctive 'S' white-on-grey dials. A driver's
information screen between the speedo and rev-counter provides all the data
you need, while Audi's MMI infotainment driver interface is still the most intuitive
of all such systems. The fine leather-rimmed, three-spoke 'S' Sports multifunction
steering wheel (with shift-paddles on the cross-bars) is a delight to hold and
The cabin is typically
elegant; first class fit
and finish; high-end
Although the SatNav is optional it's worth every penny and provides crystal
clear mapping alongside well-timed, accurate and easy to understand directions
backed up by a countdown graphic on the driver's display between the dials that
clearly shows the distance to the next manoeuvre. Something that's really helpful
in heavy traffic.
As well as the superb two-tone leather 'chairs' and other equipment mentioned
elsewhere, S5 drivers can also expect parking sensors, drive-away locking, one-shot
windows, cruise control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, powerfold (on demand
and locking) heated door mirrors, auto lights and wipes, a decent sound system
(10 speakers including a 180-watt subwoofer) with digital radio, SD memory-card
reader and Aux-in socket, a three-zone climate system, switch-operated parking
brake, Intelligent key, and press-button start.
'In-flight' storage is also good: in addition to a big glovebox and capacious
door pockets that can house a large bottle, there's also a decent bin beneath
the centre front armrest (which slides as well as adjusts for height) and useful
lockers built into the bases of both front seats.
travelling in the back of the S5 Sportback will have little to complain about;
only, perhaps, that the front is an even more exciting place to be. Access to
and from the pair of well-shaped rear seats (virtually clones of the excellent
front sport seats, even down to the three-stage heating) is easy.
buckled-up, average height rear passengers have decent knee room and a fist
of head room (unless they contrarily insist on sitting rigidly upright). There's
plenty of foot room although not an excess of leg room but near-six-footers
will be comfortable behind similarly-sized adults seated ahead of them.
Theres also a full-size
ski-hatch not just for
show either because this
all-wheel drive super-
hatch will easily get
you and your party
up snow-covered Alpine
A big armrest (and we mean big!) with pop-out cupholders delineates each rear
passenger's territory in a civilised manner. Adding to the status quo is a dedicated
set of climate controls for the 'third' zone. There's also a full-size ski-hatch
not just for show either because this all-wheel drive super-hatch
will easily get you and your party up snow-covered Alpine roads.
It may only seat four but there's enough boot for a five-seater: an enormous
480 litres. If you need to move larger loads then fold the back seats and you'll
have a level loadbay with a total capacity of 1,283 litres; and all easily accessible
through the large tailgate. Sleek and sexy it is, but it's also more practical
than its two-door sister, the A5.
The S5 Sportback is competent over all roads in all weathers, goes like a wild
thing, and looks AbFab. Yet it's also a versatile, all-purpose, family mega-hatch
that's beautifully made and supremely easy to live with. If you've got the cash,
Audi S5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI quattro S tronic | £42,595
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.1 seconds | Average Test MPG: 24.4mpg
Power: 328bhp | Torque: 324lb ft | CO2 190g/km