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2017 Audi S5 First Drive Review

What is it?

Why will I buy the Audi S5?

For the fantastic engine, sleek exterior and the top-notch interior

Why will I avoid the Audi S5?

Ride is harsh, looks too similar to the A5 and is quite expensive too.

If the 2.0-litre diesel motor on the A5 is too tame for your liking and higher revving petrol motors, better handling with mega performance is your thing, then Audi has the S5 for you. By replacing S with A in the nomenclature you get firmer suspension, a turbocharged V6 petrol motor good for 351bhp and some aesthetic additions to tell your neighbors that you are driving something more special than the standard car. 

Although the S5 looks more or less similar to the A5, when you look closely you will spot sportier 18 inch five spoke alloy rims, aluminum covers for the ORVMs, twin tail pipes that hint at the higher power output and an additional splitter on the front bumper which adds more drama.

How is it on the inside?

 The cabin is a fine place to be in, thanks to its high-quality construction and ergonomic design. In terms of changes you get brushed silver finish instead of wood on the standard A5 and a S5 badge on the steering. This is where we think Audi could have gone further and given the S5 a more distinctive interior than the standard car. 

 The S5 and the A5 share their equipment list too and you get the same high-tech Virtual cockpit system, a large sunroof, electric leather front seats, front and rear parking assist with reversing camera, three-zone climate control, 8 airbags and LED headlamps.

You also get snugger seats in the S5, which felt a tad better in terms of support and comfort than the A5’s. Space upfront is good and the low window-line and thin A-pillars gives you a good view out. At the rear other than the limited headroom it’s surprisingly good thanks to the well-shaped bench and adequate knee and shoulder room. Thanks to the notchback design the A5 is practical too and the split folding rear seat gives it estate like versatility. 

How does it drive?

Like the previous gen car the new S5 too is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 motor too, but that’s where the similarities end. This new engine uses turbo charging instead of supercharging and it sports cutting edge tech too. The turbocharger, which replaces the mechanical compressor of the previous engine, operates according to the twin-scroll principle. The turbocharger is located within the 90-degree V of the cylinder banks. This arrangement enables compact construction and short gas flow paths with minimal flow losses, helps the engine respond more immediately. 

This 2995 cc V6 engine produces a healthy 351bhp and 500 Nm of torque from a phenomenally low 1370rpm. Considering the light weight, immense power and leech like Quattro AWD grip, the claimed 4.7 second 0-100kmph time doesn’t surprise at all. Step on the accelerator and the motor feels smooth and well-balanced. There is loads of grunt from the word go and at full throttle the motor comes in its own and it pushes you back in the well-padded seats as it gains speed in a linear manner. Take-off is very strong and thanks to the clever Quattro AWD, traction is savage. In Comfort mode the S5 felt best as the mellowed down engine responses help you make smooth progress. But as soon as you switch to Dynamic, the throttle response sharpens dramatically and it feels too jerky and immediate for road use. The highlight of this motor though is the sound it emits. We always drove this car in individual mode with the engine and gearbox in Comfort and the engine sound in Dynamic as it just sounds so good. It makes a thunderous sound at part-throttle, and emits a refined howl as it closes in on the engine redline.

We also think a quick-witted dual clutch transmission would have made the driving experience even better as the 8-speed torque converter gearbox is a bit reluctant to downshift even in manual mode. 

With all that power, what’s also impressive is that stability around long corners is fantastic too. The long wheelbase, wide stance and leech-like traction from the Quattro AWD system gives you loads of confidence. Like with the A5, the steering felt more natural and direct in comfort mode but even here it is devoid of any feel or feedback. What disappoints though is the ride which is stiff and unless on a smooth road it always feels bumpy and unsettled. With increase in speed things don’t improve by much and a more rounded edge to the spring and dampers would have been welcomed.

Should I buy one?

The S5 looks special, has a sweet sounding powerful V6 motor, is quite comfortable, has a beautifully crafted cabin and handling is safe and surefooted too. If only the gearbox was faster and the ride was more forgiving, the S5 would have been even better. Priced at Rs 70 lakhs ex-showroom the S5 seems good value when you compare it to the competition but costing Rs 15 lakh more than the A5 is a bit hard to justify.

Where does it fit in?

The Audi S5 is priced quite well as it undercuts it direct rival the Mercedes C43 by a considerable margin. It also will compete with the Volvo S60 Polestar.

 

Pictures by: Kapil Angane

 
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Audi A5 Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 77.44 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 77.56 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 71.45 Lakhs onwards
Pune₹ 77.16 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 73.59 Lakhs onwards
Ahmedabad₹ 70.19 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 72.91 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 67.18 Lakhs onwards
Chandigarh₹ 68.09 Lakhs onwards
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