First drive: Audi S5

By Richard Cree

This story originally appeared in the January/February 2017 issue of Elite Traveler.

The same, but better was the message at the launch of the new Audi S5 Coupe. First impressions suggest the update has achieved the objective of being evolution more than revolution, bringing the S5 in line with other Audis (with the imposing single front grille), while keeping true to the spirit of the S5, with its distinctive shoulder line and aggressive stance.

Audi S5

Since its launch in 2007, the S5 has been a massive seller for Audi all around the world. Playing well to Audi’s sporty heritage, it draws on a lineage dating back to the original Audi Quattro. But looks can deceive and this is more than a slight tweak. It is a completely new car, with new components from the chassis up.

It manages to be longer and wider than the old model, but 132lb lighter, more aerodynamic and (yes, Audi still discusses these things) more fuel-efficient. Inside, there’s more “same but better.” Audi interiors have long been noted for quality – both in terms of materials and layout. There is no drop off here, although stepping into the S5 reinforces this as a new car. The on-board technology is impressive. There are, for example, 30 driver assistance systems on board.

There is also the option for Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, which allows drivers to define the dashboard setup, allowing it to show the most relevant information in any situation. The S5 driven also boasts heads-up display and too many gadgets to play with in one drive. In truth, few owners fully use the technology available on their car. It is surely time for carmakers to stop adding functionality until drivers can catch up. Mind you, with cars almost able to drive themselves, it gives drivers something to do.

But before we give up driving entirely, there is plenty of fun to be had here. The S5 boasts a slick, 8-speed tiptronic gearbox and a meaty 350bhp, 3.0-liter V6 TSFI quattro engine. It offers a selection of driving modes; in dynamic mode it offers great agility on tight country roads (where it handles wonderfully and makes the right noises when you want it to); while in comfort mode it’s perfect for built-up traffic or long stretches of highway. In short, it’s more of the same, but better.