Car Review: S is for the sexy Audi S5 coupé

ON THE ROAD

Why do you drive the vehicle you do? 

For many the answer is simple. It serves your life’s needs, whether that is to nip around town in a hot hatch or ferry the children to school every morning. But for others, their wheels speak to them in some intangible way that they find difficult to articulate.

Audi S5 coupé owners probably fit into the latter category.

The slightly facelifted German slicker has enjoyed an understated release this year. This is partly a result of the pandemic, but it’s also down to the manufacturer going all-out on its performance experience in March, an event that saw the release of 15 high-end speedsters.

By virtue of its name, the S5 technically rolls with this brood. And yet it still feels distinct from its cousins. While most of them are bold, ostentatious beasts, the S5 feels refined and classy. It’s undoubtedly sporty but there’s a subtlety to its sexiness. This is what Playboy was meant to be to the unashamed Penthouse.

Make no mistake, it is still fast and a pleasure to drive. There’s a gleeful kick off the line that is followed by a smooth transition into your desired cruising speed. You feel this around corners that it rounds smoothly before asking to be bolted into the straight ahead of you. On open roads it is easy to get lost in its steady, rhythmic pace, while at no point feeling like there is ever a loss of control.

Enhancing the experience is the gorgeous cockpit from which it is controlled. It may be a bit of an odd thing to highlight, but the selling point of this car — what sets it apart from its competitors — might just be the interior. From opening the door to buckling up, the experience feels special. 

Everything has been fashioned with quality materials and the seating position makes it clear you are helming a sports car. The bucket seats are pure sex appeal — their leather crisscrosses into exquisite patterns that hug the driver’s body. 

The best comparison might be with the performance TT models except you feel like less of a go-karting lunatic as you do in those tight cabins. In here there’s adequate space in the back and the boot seems to stretch into infinity.

We would also be remiss not to mention the sinister claw that hands off your seatbelt. Not entirely uncommon in coupés — previous BMW 3-series models are the obvious example — the S5 employs an automatic lever to hand over your belt. It can be a tad temperamental. Say you’re one of those drivers that likes to set off before nonchalantly buckling up … the arm will retract before you’ve had the chance to do so. Sorry, no safety belt for you today.

The outside looks are similarly elegant. It’s immediately identifiable as the fast capsule that it is but remains understated in the right places. From the headlights to the rear, its curves delicately shape its body. 

To emphasise the theme, the S5 looks best in a standard metallic paint such as a red, silver or black. This is not unlike a car such as the RS6, which looks intimidating in green, or even a S3, which could pull off a Power Ranger yellow.

Powering the coupé is a 3.0-litre turbo V6 that is good enough for 260kW and 500nM. Translated to pure acceleration and you’ll go from 0 to 100km/h in 4.7s and reach an electronically-limited speed of 250km/h. Again, it is undeniably quick — if not as brutal as an RS model (although beginning at R1 094 000 it is a lot cheaper).

All this leads us back to our original question: why would you drive an S5 every day? 

Perhaps the simplest answer is that you would want to. This is not a high-performance freak that will demand you take it to the track multiple times a week. It can throw a punch when needed but is happy to go about daily business. For most of us such a quality couldn’t be more valuable.

We make it make sense

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Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham is a features writer at the Mail & Guardian

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