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The alternative to a typical sedan and the more practical version of a coupe, Audi’s Sportback styling has always been a hit with the yuppies. This is the latest iteration of a refined idea…

You aren’t the only one. We see it too. Audi has mastered the art of “same sausage, different size” with their A4, A6 and A8 models. There are traces of the same mantra even in their SUV models, but some of their most distinctive models have been the iconic TT, R8, the RS6 Avant and this, the A5. For 2017, Audi is bringing the all-new generation of the car to India on October 5th, officially but I got my hands on both the A5 and S5 sport versions on a media drive prior to launch date.

 

Form follows function

Your eyes will thank you for gazing upon the sculpted body of this fine machine. The muscular shoulder haunches and creases on the bonnet give it a powerful look even while stationary. Opt for the S5 and you get added glamour in the way of aluminium flourishes, S5 branded brake calipers and the sweet sound and mean look of quad exhausts.

Powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine producing 190bhp on the A5 and a proper V6 3.0-litre petrol churning out a healthy 354bhp on the S5, these cars are meant for fun. Audi’s famed all-wheel drive Quattro system makes an appearance only on the S5 though, while the A5 gets only front-wheel drive and along with it, a hint of torque steer. But the refinement levels of this new-generation diesel engine are astonishing. Unless you’ve been told, guessing its oil-burning nature would be almost impossible and out on the highway, it picks up pace briskly in a linear fashion, only running out of breath at the top of its range.

The 8-speed transmission is smooth with only an occasional DSG-related jerk on low-speed downshift. Steering, like all Audi’s is light on effort and feel but great for comfort driving and in-city manoeuvres, although if you’re a keen driver, you will beg for more feedback.

What really stands out for a sedan with sportscar aspirations is the high-speed ride quality - the A5 absolutely devouring everything in its path without much body movement. Switch to Comfort on the Audi Drive Select and the ride gets even more pliant and cushy, but at the cost of some movement. 18in wheels are standard on both versions of the car which is a wise decision by Audi for the Indian market.

Rear legroom can be a bit tight if there is a tall driver or passenger up front and since you also sit lower than the sedan body styles, it may not be the airiest of cabins, but there is a sunroof on offer to help matters. What doesn’t help is the dark wood on black dash combo, making the entire cabin feel a bit too minimalist. A walnut or oak finish would’ve livened things up a bit, but on the drive, some actually preferred the all-black look, so I guess it’s a matter of personal taste.

Dynamic duo

The S5 is a different beast. It sports aluminium trim inside the cabin to add some flair and more importantly, a lot more thrust under its muscled hood. This V6 is as strong an engine as Audi has ever made and it has enormous amounts of character, especially when partnered with the sport exhaust that sounds properly sportscar-ish from the get-go.

The creamy power delivery of this engine makes the S5 a genuine contender with the likes of the Volvo S60 Polestar and the Mercedes C43AMG with the added pizzazz of breaking away from the norm. The quick-shifting gearbox gets fiercer in Dynamic mode but unfortunately doesn’t hold on to the gears even in Manual mode

So, the engine roars up to 6500RPM and then, whether you want it or not, will serve up another cog. This may not be a deal breaker for anyone really, it’s more a matter of control. Performance wise, this motor and chassis is a winning combo. The engine just doles out the power without any lag and the Quattro keeps hugging the curve as long as you put the power down right.

The steering here is much improved over the regular A5 and has more heft to it. Feedback is still debatable, but there are many other entertaining hooks in the S5 besides the steering. The solid brakes, the support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the Audi Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster that never fails to amaze with its responsiveness and crispness and the overall build quality that is top-notch.

 

Tech overlord

As always, there’s plenty of technology as standard here and the Audi MMI system is the cynosure of it all. The new system now has eight shortcut buttons that can be assigned to any oft-used task, or track, location etc. This makes it a breeze to get what you’re looking for in an instant and the sat/nav worked perfectly for us all the way from Jaipur to our hotel about 85kms out on the highway and back.

The Virtual Cockpit is a marvel and still amazes me with its resolution and interface. Simple yet effective, it allows you to change the view in an instant from full sat/nav to a big, blazing red rev counter in the centre when you want to put the lead to the metal. There are a few surprising tech omissions though. The standard A5 gets a better Bang & Olufsen 755W sound system while the pricier S5 gets a stock audio system (at least on the test car), the S5 gets Apple CarPlay but the A5 doesn’t (again, on the test car).

You have to make some weird choices to get the engine of your interest, but overall, the Audi S5 is a car that is at home in everyday traffic or out on the open highway showing off its sporty leanings. It will turn more heads than an A6 and put more smiles on your face than an A4. That’s a job well done by Audi and the fact that this all-new car makes it to India barely a year after its international debut, shows commitment by Audi to capture the urban sport space.

Initial Verdict

You have to make some weird choices to get the engine of your interest, but overall, the Audi S5 is a car that is at home in everyday traffic or out on the open highway showing off its sporty leanings. It will turn more heads than an A6 and put more smiles on your face than an A4. That’s a job well done by Audi and the fact that this all-new car makes it to India barely a year after its international debut, shows commitment by Audi to capture the urban sport space.

Tech Specs 
Engine
3.0 V6 TFSI (S5) 2.0TDI (A5)
Power
354bhp/500Nm (S5) 190bhp/400Nm (A5)
Acceleration
0-100km/hr 4.7 secs (S5) 7.9 secs (A5)
Stuff says... 

Audi A5/S5 First Drive review

A great looker and an even greater performer, the A5/S5 duo are fantastic alternatives to the boring sedans.
₹70,60,000

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