Audi A5 and S5 look sensational and dole out exhilarating performance
One of the things he said was that the company is set to expand the SUV range, focus on alternative powertrains and would also introduce new body designs
We met Audi India's new top boss, Rahil Ansari, recently and he revealed the luxury carmaker's plan. One of the things he said was that the company is set to expand the SUV range, focus on alternative powertrains and would also introduce new body designs.
The last point is of great relevance here, because we've just driven the stylish new Audi A5 Sportback range. It really stands out in a crowd of sedans with its flowing coupe-like roofline and sporty hunchback stance. Unlike the previous generation, the new A5 is completely new and is based on Volkswagen Group's MLB platform, which also underpins the A4 sedan.
Audi's proprietary Virtual Cockpit tech is eye-catching. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
The Sportback looks simply gorgeous with its soft curves. It's unlike the usual Audi sedan but, with the shape of the headlight and imposing hexagonal grille, there are traces of the family design. It looks impressive from the rear three-fourths angle, especially when it's in motion.
The S5 gets a powerful 3.0-litre V6 Turbo-petrol engine
The new car looks a lot more dynamic compared to the previous generation S5, which was launched in India a couple of years ago. It's low, long, and wide, with close to perfect proportions. Then there are the finer details — such as the texturing on the headlights and tail lamps, frameless doors and almost flat rear windscreen — which distinguish the A5 from the lesser cars on the road.
The black interior and S badges hint at the S5's potency
The company has launched three versions in India, A5 Sportback, A5 Cabriolet and the S5. The sporty S5 comes with a retuned 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine producing 354 PS and 500 Nm of torque, a hike of 21 PS and 60 Nm over its predecessor. It comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and is equipped with a quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The A5 gets a more efficient 2.0-litre TDI diesel power-plant
The more mainstream A5 Sportback gets a bit more practical with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel good for 190 PS and 400 Nm. Power is delivered to the front wheels via an S tronic seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission. There's an A5 Cabriolet version as well with the same powertrain as the A5 Sportback, but it gets the quattro all-wheel drive.
While the A5's interior quality is top-notch, but it is a little understated
We drove the A5 Sportback and its sporty avatar, the S5. Interestingly, it's tough to set them apart, barring some subtle differentiation such as additional brush metal highlights, 'S' and quattro badging, and quad exhausts on the S5. The alloy design is also different, but both versions run on 18-inch wheels.
Ingress and egress in the sportback takes some effort and though the seats are low, they are quite comfortable. The cabin quality is excellent with the use of premium materials and attention to detail is impeccable, while the buttons and knobs feel solidly built. The A5 had a dark wood trim, but we preferred the S5's brush metal highlights. We feel the layout of the dashboard could have been spunkier to gel with the whole unique and sporty theme of the A5. Thankfully, the three-spoke steering wheel and curvaceous front seats bring in a dash of sportiness, which is otherwise lacking.
The cabin is fairly comfortable for four adults. The sloping roofline does reduce the headroom for rear-seat passengers, but is roomy enough for a person with an average build. There's ample knee-room and the seats offer good overall support. There's no shortage of luggage space either. Open the electrically operated boot-lid and it offers a spacious 480-litre storage area.
In terms of features, the Audi is really well-specced. There's a massive eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, equipped with the extremely easy to use Audi's MMI interface. This comes with a touchpad on the centre console on which one just has to scribble phone numbers or sat-nav locations and the intelligent system understands your command. Our car also came with optional features like the truly spectacular eight-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument console for the driver, a Bang and Olufsen music system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity for smartphones — and we made full use of them while we drove around.
We started with the peppier S5, equipped with the twin-turbo V6 petrol motor, quattro all-wheel-drive system and the new eight-speed torque converter. True to name, it offers sports car-like performance, with strong throttle response right from the word go. The 354 horses are waiting for your command to unleash wrath on the tarmac, while the humongous 500 Nm of torque ensures there is not even a hint of lag. And, as it accelerates, the symphony of blips, pops and a deep raspy note coming from the quad exhausts further amplify the entire driving experience. It claims to zoom 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, and the way it builds speed, this figure doesn't sound exaggerated.
The rather straight highway roads of Rajasthan didn't give us much opportunity to go around high paced corners, but since power is delivered to all the four wheels it felt confident during cornering. Audi has smartly specced the S5 with 18-inch wheels with 245/40 section tyres, which make the ride extremely pliant. The tyre's tall wall ensures that it soaks up majority of the bad patches on the road, which makes this one of the few performance cars, which are comfortable to use regularly in the city. We were taken aback by its ground clearance as it clearly rides much taller than it appears. The light steering makes it an easy car drive in the city, especially during lock-to-lock parking. It's one of the rare species of sport-cars — practical, fun to drive and quite dependable.
After spending time with the uber practical S5, we hopped into the diesel powered A5 Sportback. The 2.0 TDI is one of our favourite oil-burners available in India, simply due to its refined and flexible nature. It drives and sounds as smooth as a petrol engine and is efficient as diesel cars should be. It builds speed briskly and low-end performance is seamless with most of the 400 Nm of torque being available from 2,500 rpm itself. This comes powered by a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and the gearshifts can be manipulated with the paddle-shifters, which, as in the S5, come as standard.
Being a front-wheel drive, the Sportback doesn't feel as connected to drive as the sportier S5, and feels ideal for city commuting and cruising comfortably on the highway. Prep it in the Sport mode and it does feel more spirited and ready to prove its claimed 0-100 km/h time of 7.9 seconds. The ride quality is one of its strengths as it takes on road undulations without much fuss. The A5 is a stylish alternative for those who don't want to own just another luxury car.
So, is it worth the money? The A5 Sportback is priced at Rs 54.02 lakh and demands a premium over the usual luxury cars of the size, which also includes the Audi A4. And, that extra money buys you a unique type that makes its competition and its siblings look vanilla. But, if we had to pick and if money wasn't a concern, we would choose the high-spirited S5 because it has the performance to match the sexy form and that's what the laws of attraction are all about.
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