There’s genuinely impressive ride quality even in Dynamic mode
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