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HERMANUS, Western Cape – The new Audi A5 Coupé has officially arrived in South Africa (find pricing here), with the 260 kW S5 sitting at the summit of the range...

Let's start with the design. I like the previous model's slab-sided looks, but to be honest, from the pics I’ve seen, I’m not sold on this one.

Neither was I at first, but it will grow on you. I don’t think it’s as attention-grabbing as the previous generation was, but I like that dropped nose more and more. “Fresh and bold” are Audi’s descriptive hints and the brand talks of how three-dimensionality has been added to the wave-shaped shoulder line that characterised the outgoing A5, but where that model made a bold statement with strong creases and broad-sided, muscular flanks, this new one manages to paradoxically be both fussier in design and a little blander in execution.

Subtle rather than bland would no doubt be Audi’s counterpoint and, as we have come to expect, that is the approach with the S5’s distinguishing design touches. The front grille has added chrome strips, a different lower bumper with T-shaped chrome “clasps” overlaying black honeycomb inserts, and there’s the signature chrome finish to the side mirrors. New 18-inch alloys are standard and there are bigger 19-inchers as an option.

There's a change under that dropped nose too, I believe?

Indeed. A new 3,0-litre V6 with a single, twin-scroll turbo nestled between the "V" replaces the outgoing supercharged incarnation. The turbo-in-the-V theory is that this allows for a shorter path for the exhaust gas to reach the turbine, resulting in improved response. A single turbo would also reduce costs and complexity … besides, we reckon it’s likely the twin-turbo version will be in the RS5.

And does it feel more responsive than the previous generation?

Not really, to be honest. Look, we’re talking minuscule slices of time here but I still reckon that supercharged version’s initial response at lower speeds was marginally swifter. That said, this new engine is up on power, torque and efficiency over the previous S5 (245 kW/440 N.m vs 260 kW/500 N.m) and Audi claims a 0-100 km/h time of 4,7 seconds, which is 0,2 seconds quicker than before.

So, what’s it like to drive then?

Typically Audi. The naysayers may call it too clinical, but nothing gets you from A to B more quickly and efficiently than a performance Audi. Mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission, the 3,0-litre turbopetrol’s delivery is effortlessly smooth and linear and our press car’s black paint and strong creases echoed that S5’s stealth bomber persona. There is no punchy cog-swapping from the Tiptronic and only a hint of V6 rasp from the quad tailpipes, but the S5 still builds speed spectacularly quickly and we did some low flying over Du Toitskloof pass through to Villiersdorp.

That Quattro tech has to help with the handling, too…

Again, typically Audi, the S5 feels composed and planted through corners – particularly the high-speed ones where the Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system manages a 60:40 rear/front torque split, unless it detects slip and then ushers up to 85 % to the front or 70 % to the rear.

Look, it’s still a fairly weighty car (although some 60 kg lighter than the previous S5) and tighter, slow-speed corners were never going to be its forté. Nevertheless, for what’s really more of a GT, the S5 feels impressively nimble and agile for its size and the suspension feels supple and well-damped even when set to Dynamic mode (Audi’s multi-mode Dynamic Suspension is standard across the range).

I do like the look of that interior…

Yup, it’s another stylish environment from Ingolstadt. The 12,3-inch Virtual Cockpit with its configurable screens is the benchmark for digital instrument clusters and it’s supplemented by a seven-inch MMI screen with its controller on the centre console.

Reminiscent of the Volkswagen Passat, there are strong horizontal lines in the facia design – particularly in the airvent strips – that help accentuate width in an interior that confirms Audi’s mastery of understated, classy cabins. The quilt-patterned, deep-red, full-leather sports seats are comfortable and supportive and – at a squeeze for short journeys – a couple of adults could make do sitting on the rear pews.

What will it cost me?

R928 000 … which is R7 000 more than the outgoing S5. Not bad, right? Sure, it’s a lot of money, but still cheaper than the – admittedly more brawny – Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupé 4Matic at R935 282. The slightly smaller BMW 440i Coupé – less powerful at 240 kW/450 N.m – is considerably cheaper at R852 176.

Okay, so give me your closing summation...

Subtle and understated; sophisticated; stealthily quick with excellent GT-like road dynamics … and (relatively) well-priced. Could do with a little more emotional exuberance, but I suspect the RS5 will take care of that...


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