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    2021 Audi S5 First Drive Review

    Authors Image

    Sagar Bhanushali

    46,550 Views
    Audi S5 Sportback Right Front Three Quarter
    Audi S5 Sportback Right Front Three Quarter
    Audi S5 Sportback Right Front Three Quarter
    Audi S5 Sportback Right Front Three Quarter
    Audi S5 Sportback Right Front Three Quarter
    Audi S5 Sportback Right Front Three Quarter
    Audi S5 Sportback Right Front Three Quarter
    Audi S5 Sportback Right Front Three Quarter

    Why I would buy it?

    • Phenomenal engine and gearbox
    • Surprisingly comfortable road manners

    Why I would avoid it?

    • Expensive for what it is
    • Well-built Interior lacks drama

    Verdict

    Who would have thought at the start of 2021 that enthusiasts in India would get to pick and choose among mid-range performance cars, but the great news is that we now live in a world where we have a competitive performance car market thanks to recent entrants like the BMW M2, M340i, Mercedes A35 AMG and the GLC43 Coupe. It’s a long list of mouthwatering options and one of those options is this; the updated Audi S5. You might be thinking it looks exactly like the original second-gen S5 launched back in 2017, and you would be right. And before you start wondering why the S5 costs so much more over the ‘everyday’ A5 then we need to talk about the hardware underneath that makes this pseudo RS model worth the extra cash in the next section of this review.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    Engine and Performance

    8 / 10

    Front View

    At the heart of the 2021 S5 is a 3-litre V6 engine with both direct and indirect fuel injection and turbocharging, putting out 354bhp and 500Nm of torque. All that power is sent to all four wheels via Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system which even includes a self-locking differential. It all sounds wonderful but the fact of the matter is that this is the exact same configuration as the 2017 S5 with hardly any changes. Nonetheless, it still is among the most characterful V6 engines out there. Cheerfully dashing towards the 6500rpm redline every time, screaming between gears and delivering a strong surge of torque lowdown, this Audi V6 is glorious.

    Right Front Three Quarter

    With over 350bhp and 500Nm, you will never feel shortchanged for grunt. In fact, with so much torque lower down the rev range and the clever Quattro all-wheel drive, acceleration off the line is savage. There is no launch control on the S5 but you can have an almost gut-wrenching take off by brake boosting the thing off the line. Get that right and you will shoot off the line quite aggressively. With the traction off and everything in its sportiest setting, we managed a 4.68 second run to 100kmph which is slightly quicker than what Audi claims.

    Right Side View

    The S5 has the sort of drivetrain that feels solid and wants you to belt the living daylights out of it, and when you put everything into Dynamic setting and turn off all the driving aids, it can be a joyful ride indeed. The ZF-sourced eight-speed torque-converter automatic is as silky smooth as ever. In fact, it’s a little too smooth at times because the upshifts are so seamless even at full throttle; you end up missing the head butt-inducing ferocious shifts you get in the A35 AMG and the M340i. Also, we think a more aggressive tune on this eight-speed gearbox would have made the driving experience even better as it can be a little reluctant at times to downshift, especially in Comfort and Efficiency modes.

    Ride and Handling

    7.5 / 10

    Left Front Three Quarter

    Driving the S5 is almost like driving the A5 or even the A4 when it comes to ride quality and frankly that’s a phenomenal thing. See, while the M340i is more engaging and the A35 AMG more nimble, the S5 is far more comfortable across pothole damaged, abrasive road surfaces which the buyers would encounter every day. Rolling on 255/35 section tyres all-around, the ride quality on the S5 is extremely pleasant for what is a performance vehicle.

    Even in the sportiest setting, the S5 never falls over the line of being uncomfortable like many other cars in this segment. The 2021 update has changed the way the S5 tackles the rough stuff because as far as we are concerned, the 2017 model left the testers disappointed with its stiff road manners and ineffective spring and damper tune.

    Wheel

    Handling is up to high-performance Audi standards which means it’s brilliant and safe for the road where you won’t be testing the limit of the front axle grip all the time. There’s full-time all-wheel drive, a self-locking center differential which can distribute torque between the front and the rear axles depending on the conditions but under normal conditions it delivers a 40:60 front-to-rear torque split which is still not as much rear-biased as we would like. Predictably, the S5 has neutral handling manners and out in the real world consisting mostly of narrow, uneven roads, it is extremely predictable when you push it. There’s a lot of traction even when you turn the wheel at speed and barring some under steer the front end will point exactly where you want it to point. Better still, because you are riding that wave of torque from the turbo charged motor, the back end would occasionally step out ever so slightly over corner exits to keep you entertained. The S5, then, offers a balance of handling and ride comfort that would suit so many buyers in this segment.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    Interior Space and Quality

    7 / 10

    Dashboard

    In typical Audi manner, the S5’s cabin design is largely restrained. The overall look and layout inhere pre-dates the current A6 and the A8 which look more futuristic with their dual-screen display for the infotainment system and the climate control. The horizontal lines characterizing this interior and a wide band of air vents are welcome touches and overall, the aesthetics in here are sedate but very tasteful. One thing that stands out about this cabin is how solidly put together everything is. There’s not a single subpar material used, and despite the older-gen look and feel, the fit and finish inside the S5 is excellent.

    Front Row Seats

    In terms of S-line specific add-ons, you get brushed silver finish instead of wood on regular Audi sedans and an S5 badge on the steering. This is where we think Audi could have gone further and given the S5 a more distinctive cabin than the standard A5. The front seats though add a lot of drama and excitement to the cabin – they are proper, snug seats complete with S logos on the backrests. In terms of comfort, they are predictably well-made, extremely comfortable and do a great job of holding you in place.

    Rear Seats

    For a sporty four-door, the S5 isn’t badly sorted for space at all. In fact, space upfront is good and the low window-line and thin A-pillars gives you a good view out. At the back, the legroom is plentiful with the front seat set to my driving position (I am 5’8” tall). The rear bench itself is very supportive but because of the S5’s sloping roofline, headroom isn’t fabulous. Lastly, the S5 is a notchback which means it can double up as a super practical sedan in case you need to move stuff around. There’s a huge amount of space with the rear seats folded and because the whole tailgate opens up in one piece with the rear glass, the S5 ends up offering estate like versatility.

    Open Boot/Trunk

    Features and Safety

    7 / 10

    Infotainment System

    For Rs 96 lakh on-road, you would expect the S5 to be fully loaded and to an extent it is. You get a crisp, fully digital instrument cluster dubbed Virtual Cockpit, a large sunroof, electric leather front seats, front and rear parking assist with reversing camera, three-zone climate control, 8 airbags and LED headlamps as standard. The biggest update inside the 2021 S5 though is the 10.1-inch touchscreen display with the updated MMI interface. All in all, the S5 doesn’t represent great value because a lot of the high-end features are part of optional extras. These include a heads-up display, a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, self-parking and a few other comfort-based features.

    Instrument Cluster

    Conclusion

    7.5 / 10

    Left Front Three Quarter

    It’s a tricky task to evaluate the 2021 Audi S5 for the value that it offers because normally when you spend close to one crore rupees you are most likely getting something that’s a full-on performance machine. To put things into perspective, the BMW M2 Competition costs just Rs 6 lakh more and is a much more accomplished performance car. In the case of the S5, you are getting a performance sedan that’s not a full-on RS model but still goes like a freight train and looks like a beefed up mid-size sedan. And one crore rupees is a lot of money for that.

    What you are getting for that much money is a drivetrain that will blow you away, so that’s worth something. The S5 also looks rather striking for a mid-size sedan, has surprisingly comfortable road manners and a beautifully put together cabin. While it may not be as reasonably priced as its rivals it remains the most usable and the most forgiving fast mid-size sedan of the lot and that’s something that many buyers would be willing to appreciate.

    Front View

    Pictures by Kapil Angane

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