At A Glance
|Make||AUDI A5 Sportback|
|Retail Price||R688 500,00|
Out with the old face and in with a sharper new look. Is Audi’s refreshed S5 Sportback a mere makeover, or has the second-most powerful model in the A5 line-up come of age?
The most obvious change to the S5 Sportback has to be the remodeling that has taken place on the car’s nose. The nose of the old car, while handsome in its own right, was something of a humdrum affair when viewed in context of the curvaceous body. The same cannot be said of the new car.
The signature single-frame grille now features bevelled edges and the lateral bars in the grille have also been sculpted to follow the downward curve of the nose and it is flanked by new headlamps with a stepped base and tubular LED arrangement that encircles the xenon light units. If you thought that people did a double take when they first took in Audi’s earlier LED-studded headlamps, the effect of the glowing headlamp surrounds on the new model is something else. The LED strip treatment has also been doled out to the rear lights. The shapely flanks have thankfully remained untouched in the update and the overall effect is an undeniably handsome car.
Unlike the exterior, the cabin has only undergone minimal changes, which, considering just what a pleasant place the previous car’s cabin was to be, is not a bad thing. There’s still plenty of space, both fore and aft, the fit and finish are still of a high standard and you sit low and snug in well-bolstered seats that don’t conspire to compress your kidneys. The boot, although shallow, is long enough to swallow most items thrown its way. While the majority of the ergonomics are spot-on, there are a couple of little quirks that irritate – the gearlever obscures the ventilation controls, especially when in park, and the revised MMI interface, while easier to use thanks to there being fewer shortcut keys to deal with, now features a volume control-cum-joystick interface that often sees you inadvertently cranking up the volume them trying to skip tracks – rather just use the steering wheel-mounted controls.
Under the bonnet sits what is probably one of Audi’s most characterful powertrain setups; the supercharged 3,0-litre V6 TFSI controlled buy Audi’s Drive Select system. While the world and its dog has gone the turbocharged route, Audi has nixed the normally aspirated 4,2-litre V8 from its S5 range, reserving that snarling powerplant for the RS5, and gone with a supercharged unit. Developing 245 kW and a healthy 440 N.m of torque at a low 1 750 r/min, the engine certainly isn’t lacking in grunt, but the figures alone simply don’t to justice to its delightfully linear power delivery and tractability – you can let the revs drop out of the power band safe in the knowledge that a flex of your right foot will see the engine pulling cleanly back into the fray. The addition of start/stop technology, energy recuperation measures and direct fuel injection helps this unit achieve a fuel consumption figure that is around 11 per cent lower than that of the V8.
Normally, drive-control systems that fiddle with such parameters as throttle response, steering and transmission shift points are at best a gimmick, or, at worst, do little more than illuminate a different part of the dash to differentiate between presets. When coupled with the S5’s drivetrain, however, it lends the car a number of distinctive personas. Select Efficiency and the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission will nip through the ratios at low revs, making for frugal, if not exciting progress. Comfort smoothens out the shifts and cranks up the amount of assistance from the electric power steering while Individual allows you to tinker with the settings for the transmission, steering and throttle to your liking. But it’s in Dynamic with the gearlever tugged into Sport where the S5 comes into its own. Here, with the throttle response in its most aggressive setting, the car feels as though it’s in a perpetual state of readiness to attack. The rev counter needle is reluctant to depart from the vicinity of the 3 000 r/min mark and trailing off the throttle sees downshifts accompanied by a 1 000 r/min blip every time the revs drop to 2 000. In this mode, the electric power steering weights up nicely and, although it doesn’t provide a great deal of feel, it is precise and satisfyingly direct.
Although firmly sprung, the S5’s ride is very well damped under the majority of conditions – only major surface corrugations will catch it out. Body roll is beautifully reined in and there is plenty of grip punctuated with a hint of understeer in extremis courtesy of the Quattro drivetrain.
Overall, the S5 is an impressive ‘bridge’ offering. The styling updates are tastefully executed and give the car the sharp appearance it’s always deserved, while the engine/chassis/drive system combination acquits itself equally well in cruising as it does in rendering the S5 an entertainingly pointy and rapid sports saloon. It’s possibly one of the best-balanced models in Audi’s local line-up.
Model: Audi S5 Sportback 3,0T FSI Quattro S tronic
Engine: 3,0-litre, supercharged V6 petrol
Power: 245 kW at 6 000 r/min
Torque: 440 N.m at 3 600 r/min
0-100 km/h*: 5,6 seconds
Fuel consumption*: 10,3 litres/100 km
CO2*: 190 g/km
Top speed*: 250 km/h
Price: R665 000
Maintenance plan: five years/100 000 km
Service intervals: determined by onboard computer
*All manufacturer-claimed figures.
Prices And Specs
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|Tyre Pressure Monitor|
Safety And Features
|Audio System||CD Shuttle|
|Steering Wheel Heated||No|
|Colour Coded Bumpers||Body Colour|
|Anti Skid Control||Yes|
|Split Rear Seats||Yes|
|Electric Windows||Front Rear|
|Side Impact Protection Bars||Yes|
|Fog Lamps Front||Yes|
|Fog Lamps Rear||Yes|