There’s gen­uinely im­pres­sive ride qual­ity even in Dy­namic mode

Wheels (Australia) - - First­drivet S - ANDY EN­RIGHT

mounted in­side the V6’s 90-de­gree vee, the lat­est engine is a step-down in char­ac­ter from the last su­per­charged V6, lack­ing that car’s ban­shee top- end histri­on­ics, but it’s an un­de­ni­ably ef­fec­tive pow­er­plant. Sup­ple and leggy, it works beau­ti­fully with the tip­tronic auto, al­though it would be good to be able to sep­a­rate the throttle char­ac­ter­is­tics from the gear­box ag­gres­sion, which can be a lit­tle over- ea­ger to kick in a mid- cor­ner up­shift when the Drive Se­lect sys­tem is set to Dy­namic mode.

A lot of work has clearly gone into pol­ish­ing the all-new fivelink sus­pen­sion of the S5, with gen­uinely im­pres­sive ride qual­ity even when the adap­tive dampers are switched into their most ag­gres­sive Dy­namic mode. The ef­fec­tive­ness of the front end was thrown into sharp re­lief by a back-to-back com­par­i­son with the A5 2.0 TFSI qu­at­tro model, which pat­tered badly un­der brak­ing on scabby sur­faces, send­ing the car’s elec­tron­ics into neu­roses.

The S5, by com­par­i­son, re­mained rock steady un­der brak­ing, with ex­cel­lent pedal feel and sharp turn-in. The op­tional $ 2950 Audi sport dif­fer­en­tial was fit­ted to all test cars and should be a stan­dard fit item, de­liv­er­ing ex­tra trac­tion out of cor­ners to the rear wheel best able to de­ploy it. The S5’s nom­i­nal torque split is 40: 60 front/rear, and in the event of slip, up to 85 per­cent of drive can be di­rected for­ward or 70 per­cent aft.

The in­te­rior, per­haps sur­pris­ingly for an Audi, was one of the few ar­eas where it was pos­si­ble to pick holes. It’s big­ger than be­fore, with a few more thought­ful touches, such as the vari­able height, robot-fed seat­belts, but a car­bon­fi­bre fas­cia in a GT car is a rare cloth-eared move from In­gol­stadt. Sit­ing the Drive Se­lect switch on the fas­cia low and to the far left is ev­i­dence of a lazy right-hand drive sign off and while the qual­ity of ma­te­ri­als was ex­cel­lent, ev­ery S5 we tested fit­ted with the op­tional Bang and Olufsen 3D stereo sys­tem suf­fered from rat­tling door speak­ers.

It’s hard not to sus­pect that the S5 rep­re­sents a foren­sic ex­er­cise in box-tick­ing. See­ing the two cars, old and new sit­ting along­side each other, I couldn’t help think of the 2003 re­make of The Ital­ian Job. Com­pared to the orig­i­nal, the crooks stole $ 35m worth of gold ver­sus $ 4m, it ran for 111 min­utes as op­posed to 99, it grossed far more at the box office and many, many more bloody doors were blown off. It was an ob­jec­tively su­pe­rior ex­er­cise in vir­tu­ally ev­ery re­gard. Yet the magic had gone, and the same ac­cu­sa­tion can be lev­elled at the ju­di­ciously ef­fec­tive S5. De­spite that, Audi is un­flinch­ingly con­fi­dent that S5 buy­ers don’t be­lieve in magic. It may well be right.

Sports diff needs to be stan­dard; engine lacks au­ral fizz Pace; grip; com­po­sure; build; prac­ti­cal­ity; smart gad­getry

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