The new Audi S5 Sportback comes with a newly developed 3.0 liter V6 petrol engine that produces 354hp and 500Nm of torque. The full torque is available from as low as 1,350 rpm all the way to 4,500 rpm. Weight has been reduced by 85 kg over the previous generation bringing the unladen weight down to 1,660 kilograms.
The new S5 comes with an updated version of the good old ZF 8-Speed gearbox and Quattro all-wheel drive as standard. The Audi S5 Sportback does the 0-100 km/h sprint time to 4.7 seconds before reaching an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h.
Design wise the new generation introduces sharper lines without significantly changing the proportions or overall appearance of the S5 Sportback. This seems to be a thing with Audi lately where fully new generations could be confused for a facelift. Having said that the old S5 Sportback was quite a good looking car so and its good sides have been retained on the new generation.
The inside is a different story though. With the optional virtual cockpit, new climate controls and large MMI infotainment screen the interior catapults itself into the second decade of the 21st century. A plethora of new assistance systems and infotainment options are available allowing you to spec the A5 and S5 Sportback like Audi’s flagship A8 limousine. The front seats are comfortable and offer good side support. The rear space is slightly limited for tall people due to the dropping roof line. The A5 Sportback became slightly longer and wider than its predecessor and this can especially be felt on the rear seats.
The virtual cockpit is a very nice feature that works quite intuitive with the buttons on the steering wheel. Sadly the same can not be said for the MMI infotainment controls in the center console. They are once again different from other Audi models and remain confusing at times. It is a shame Audi didn’t add a touch screen in addition to the traditional MMI controls.
I mentioned assistance systems before and like the A4 the A5 and S5 can be equipped with a range of systems that make long journeys more comfortable and and safer in general. I tried the new adaptive cruise control which for the first time also uses map data to anticipate upcoming situations. In general it is much more refined than the previous generation – it brakes earlier and gentler and anticipates other road users’ behavior in a more natural and human way. You still have to keep your eyes on the road but in many situations like traffic jams and highway driving it takes over the braking and accelerating completely in all but a few circumstances.
But I didn’t pick up a pair of S5 Sportback keys to review the updated adaptive cruise control system. I came here to see what it is capable of when you put your foot down. And capable it is! The new V6 petrol engine delivers the power like a strong diesel with a lot of low end torque so step on the throttle and the S5 sprints forward as if it is bitten by a snake.
As the driver you can control the driving dynamics via the drive select buttons in the center console or via the drive menu. You can also set up an individual profile that allows you to set the suspension, engine, steering, sound and more to your wishes. In Eco and Comfort mode it runs through the gears quickly to reduce the fuel economy and provide a smooth silent drive but after a few kilometers I started to get hungry for more.
So I changed to dynamic mode, this tightens the dampers, steps up the steering ratio, makes the engine more responsive and opens the flaps in the exhaust. I leave town and soon find myself on some winding country roads with no traffic – the perfect place to see how it does dynamically. The straight line performance is impressive and effortless. The sound is full-bodied but never too much – Audi clearly left room for the upcoming RS5 when it comes to the sound. The first tight corner I brake and turn in, the car follows my exact command with hardly any body roll or drama. I take the next a bit faster – but again the S5 Sportback behaves as if it’s running on tracks.
Already after the first few kilometers I get a feeling that I rarely get in a car – it is as if everything just fits together. High quality interior, great responsive and powerful engine, great handling and a sound that matches its behavior – almost the perfect package. The last time I had this feeling in an Audi was in the manual Audi S1.
One of the weaknesses I found in recent Audi S models like the TT S and S3 are the brakes. Whether it is because of poor cooling air flow or just poor hardware – they overheat way too quickly. So in the S5 I paid particular attention to the brakes but even after putting them properly to the test there was no sign of fading and the temperatures were well within limits.
The S5 Sportback combines a good looking four door coupe style with great performance. The overall package offered by the new S5 Sportback is better in all other regards. Its performance makes it an even more attractive alternative for those looking to buy an entry level Porsche Panamera. It is not quite as big but from a driving and performance perspective it can compete with the Panamera with ease. Daimler also plans to move into this segment with the upcoming Mercedes-Benz CLC but until then the S5 Sportback is the king of the segment.
What to spec?
The list of optional extras for the Audi A5 & S5 Sportback is quite a read so we present a few of our favorite options that you could consider when ordering your S5 Sportback. To make selecting the most important infotainment and assistance systems easier Audi created some packages that include the most popular systems all in one.
- Technology Selection Package – Includes the MMI plus with large infotainment screen, Audi Connect and WIFI hotspot, Audi Virtual Cockpit (a must), comfort key and smartphone interface.
- Assistance Package City – Includes parking sensors front- and rear, rear view camera, Audi side assist, Audi pre sense basic, audi pre sense rear and more.
- Assistance Package Tour – Includes adaptive cruise control (I don’t want to drive without it anymore), traffic jam assistant, Audi pre sense front (brakes automatically to avoid a collision up to 250 km/h) and more.
- Traffic Sign Detection – Recognizes speed limit signs and informs you about the maximum speed in the display.
- Audi Active Lane Assist – Helps keep the car in the lane and assists steering through corners. I’m surprised this is not included in the Tour assistance package.
Audi S suspension with adaptive dampers – Allows you to change the damper intensity between comfort and sport. Makes the car more comfortable on long journeys.
- Head-Up Display – Projects your speed, speed limit and navigation instructions onto the windshield so you don’t have to take your eyes of the road.
- Airconditioned seats – An option I like a lot on sunny days. There is also a seat massage option available as optional extra but that is not as good as the systems we tested in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7-Series.
Audi created a very cool and engaging four door coupé. It looks good, performs and handles great and has a addictive full bodied sound track. You can spec it with all the options you could wish for to make it a perfect daily driver. My only remarks are the lack of touch functionality for the large infotainment screen and the confusing MMI controls.
The Audi S5 Sportback is available to order in Europe now. The first customer cars will be delivered from January 2017. Audi has not confirmed if it will come to the United States yet. What they did confirm is that the Audi RS5 will celebrate its debut next year.