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Audi S5 Sportback 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7.4
Many is the time a hot hatch full of yoofs has rolled up beside what they thought was Audi's pretty-but-slow 1.8-litre CVT equipped A5 Sportback, thinking they had the traffic light race won.

Many is the time a hot hatch full of yoofs has rolled up beside what they thought was Audi's pretty-but-slow 1.8-litre CVT equipped A5 Sportback, thinking they had the traffic light race won. The problem they encountered was a 3.0 supercharged V6-powered S5 comprehensively ripping them off. The S5 looked like sleeper, but went like a barista on their ninth doppio.

Gorgeous, low-key and powered by that characterful engine, the only problem was it was based on an already-old set of bones that wasn't famous for its dynamic abilities. It wasn't bad but it just wasn't great, the car let down mostly by its dull steering but also a chassis that wasn't always up to the task.

The B9 A4 previewed what a new platform could do for those looking for a bit more fun from Ingolstadt, the S4 reinforced that and now we've arrived at the S5 Sportback. Powerful and pretty and suddenly much cheaper, the S5 Sportback should be ready to conquer the fast four-door coupe market. Right?

Can the S5 cash the cheque written by its looks? Can the S5 cash the cheque written by its looks?

Audi S5 2017: Sportback 3.0 TFSI Quattro
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.6L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$81,480

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The opening price of $105,800 is the same as the two door S5 Coupe's, almost $6000 more than the S4 and over $16,000 cheaper than the old S5.

Inside there are excellent materials and some lovely finishes. Inside there are excellent materials and some lovely finishes.

To help justify Audi's claim that the new S5 has $30,000 of extra value over the old, it comes standard with three-zone climate control, active cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, auto wipers and headlights, auto parking, keyless entry and start, power tailgate, power everything, heated S sport front seats, LED headlights, Nappa leather upholstery, ten-speaker stereo, adaptive damping, around-view cameras, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

The $30,000 figure makes sense when you add the $16,000 price cut to the claimed $14,000 of extra gear. Either way, it's a far better proposition than the car it replaces.

The new dashboard is slimmer and appears to float across the front of the car. The new dashboard is slimmer and appears to float across the front of the car.

Like the A5, the S5 employs Audi's 8.3-inch MMI media system, controlled with a console-mounted rotary dial. The system includes sat nav with traffic updates, bluetooth, DAB, Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Also included are Google services integrated into the MMI, which requires its own SIM card and enables voice search for various nearby services.

Unusually, there is just one option package on the S5, the $5600 Technik pack which adds matrix LED headlights, dynamic front and rear indicators, headlight washer system, a B&O-branded 19-speaker stereo and the head up display.

Other individual options include the sport differential ($2950), different alloy wheel designs ($450-$2950), dynamic steering ($2210), Titanium black gloss package (adds black trim pieces, $1430), sunroof ($2850), heated rear outboard seats ($750), wireless phone charging ($455) and the B&O stereo on its own for $1950. Premium paint, which is nine of the eleven available colours weighs in at $1846.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The new A5 Sportback design is readily identifiable as new when you compare it to the glacial evolution of the A4. Whereas the first A5's lines were super-straight and super sharp, the A5's character line (Audi calls it the tornado line) has more of a wave to it and the shoulders are stronger, broader and plumped out, the sheetmetal more shapely.

Gorgeous, low-key and powered by a characterful engine. Gorgeous, low-key and powered by a characterful engine.

Inside there is a lot of the A4, but that's a good thing. The new dashboard is slimmer and appears to float across the front of the car, with full-width air vents, excellent materials and some lovely finishes. The big screen and brilliant Virtual Cockpit digital dashboard makes for a futuristic feel.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

Front seat passengers enjoy two cupholders, bottle holders in the doors, a partially covered central console storage bin, two gloveboxes and a pretty impressive set of front seats.

Rear seat passengers not only have their own climate control zone but also have bottle holders in the doors, all good for 1.5 litre vessels. There are also two cupholders for rear seat passengers that pop out of the armrest, and ISOFIX child seat mounts for the outboard seats. 

Audi says there is another 24mm of knee room in the rear. Audi says there is another 24mm of knee room in the rear.

The foot-wavey electric tailgate provides access to the boot which - somehow - is the same 480 litres as the A4 sedan. The rear seats split 40/20/40, increasing space up to 1300 litres.

Audi says that there is another 17mm of interior length, 11mm more shoulder room and, most usefully, another 24mm of knee room in the rear.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The S5 packs the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 from the S4, which Audi says is an all-new design and 15kg lighter than the older supercharged unit. Power is up 15kW to 260kW and torque rises to 500Nm (up 60Nm and available from just 1370rpm). That means a 0-100km/h time of 4.7 seconds for the 1735kg machine.

If you want to impress your friends with industry jargon, tell them that the V6's design is "hot side inside" - the turbo sits deep in the V between the cylinder banks, maximising the exhaust pressure, heat and therefore spinning up the twin-scroll turbo quickly to help reduce lag.

The new engine is credited for 14kg of the new S5's 85kg drop in weight.

All that grunt reaches the road through Audi's rear-biased quattro system and ZF's epic eight-speed automatic transmission.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Audi claims 7.7L/100km on the combined cycle. Given our enthusiastic introduction to the S5 was on a terrific set of roads, the 11.5/L100km is not typical but not bad either.

The S5 is fitted with stop-start for fuel saving.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

As you might expect, the mechanical similarity to the S4 means a broadly similar drive experience. Which means it's rather a lot of fun when you hit the drive mode selector and set it to dynamic. As ever everything tenses up and the car goes from a reasonably docile urban proposition to a lightly growling sporting sedan.

Being slightly lower it's ever-so-slightly sharper and if you want the full experience, the optional rear sports differential (active electro-mechanical) will quell the undesteer and give the car a more active feel through the corners. 

The brakes are brilliant, too - big 350mm discs with six piston calipers up front and 330mm rotors at the back. 

What's more impressive given that the car is well on the way to 1800kg despite the extensive use of weight-saving aluminium in the chassis and a various lightweight materials in the cabin. 

Road noise is superbly damped, with an acoustic front windscreen cutting down the noise from the huge 255/35 tyres. You can still hear it, but it's not intrusive. Firing the S5 through a set of bends is terrific fun once you've cleared the traffic. The initial lag is quickly overcome and the turbo spools up quickly to deliver a wall of torque to sling you out of corners. It doesn't feel anything like its weight, with a fleet-footed feel and quick change of direction. Up to 85 percent of the power can go to the rear wheels while business-as-usual is still rear-biased, with a 60/40 torque split in normal running. It's not taily, but it feels rear-driven.

The ZF eight-speed is a brilliant choice for the S5 - there's never any hint of hesitation, it's always in the right gear and it shifts like demon when you want it to and treads softly when you just want to relax.

Even in dynamic mode, the ride is well-controlled and never harsh. You probably wouldn't want to run the car in the hardest setting when pottering about town, but at the same time, you won't require surgery if you did leave it on.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

As with the A5 Sportback range, the S5 carries a comprehensive safety package that incldues eight airbags, stability and traction controls, front AEB with pedestrian detection, rear collision warning (which includes flashing lights to warn fast-approaching traffic), attention detection, rear cross traffic alert, exit warning (warns of approaching cars and cyclists) around view cameras and turn assist which helps prevent you turning across approaching cars low speeds.

ANCAP has awarded the Sportback a maximum five-star safety rating based on the performance of A4 in EuroNCAP testing - both organisations treat them as being part of the same family.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Audi's three year/unlimited kilometre warranty covers the S5, along with roadside assistance for the duration. Servicing in the ever-swankier dealerships is less of a chore than some other brands and often includes a ride to and from the nearest CBD if you're in a capital city.

You can also fix your servicing costs by taking on the $1850 three year/45,000km service plan which covers scheduled servicing.

Verdict

The S5 Sportback is a big jump over the old car - the main complaints have been dealt with and things that didn't really need fixing have been improved anyway. The new turbo engine really is something else, and we can live with the loss of the supercharger whine for lower fuel consumption and that huge wallop of torque. Listen closely and there's a lovely wastegate woosh from the turbos.

The previous model's ageing interior has been replaced by a fresh, airy and well-designed cabin, with a bit more space just to make sure. It's arguably the better looking of the two S5s, too.

More refined, fast, cheaper, better. You don't often get all that in an all-new model, but there we are. And the yoofs in the hot hatch still won't suspect a thing.

The new S5 can cash the cheque written by its looks - can it tempt you away from the BMW 340i Gran Coupe?

Pricing Guides

$88,880
Based on 4 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$81,480
Highest Price
$89,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 TFSI Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $93,940 – 108,020 2017 AUDI S5 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
3.0 TFSI Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $83,270 – 95,700 2017 AUDI S5 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
Sportback 3.0 TFSI Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $81,480 – 89,990 2017 AUDI S5 2017 Sportback 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety7
Ownership7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$76,890

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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