Audi S5 Sportback 2020 long-term review

As we’ve come to expect from premium German brands, this isn’t ‘merely’ a £51,000 base S5 Sportback. Audi has gone to town a bit on the options. For starters, it’s effectively a Vorsprung model, with upgrades including 20in alloy wheels, a panoramic roof, adaptive Sport suspension, a Bang & Olufsen stereo and all the LED lighting cleverness you could possibly need. We’ve also got Audi’s super-bright laser lights, which aren’t seeing much use in the midst of summer but will surely be welcomed as the nights close in.

More superficial additions include red brake calipers and gloss carbon cabin inlays. Practical boxes ticked include the larger 24-litre AdBlue tank (the cheapest option at just £60) and the ‘Tour’ Driver Assistance Pack (the most expensive, at £2700), bringing a suite of active safety systems too numerous to list here. All in, this is a £70,000 car – well into RS4 Avant money. So, as the months tick by, I shall aim to provide some consumer advice and tell you which boxes are worth ticking and which aren’t.

Back to the car itself. I was hoping for a subtler colour to really sell the diesel S5’s Q-car status, but flash Tango Red will do; with the big wheels, quad tailpipes and other S details, it certainly distinguishes itself from the fleet-spec Audis dominating every motorway in the land. You’d think the illusion would be shattered once that TDI V6 is awoken, but the S5 gets an exhaust sound actuator that (largely) drowns out the diesel clatter with a faux-V8 burble at idle and low revs. I’ve yet to make my mind up; inside it adds a little theatre, but outside it’s a touch more narrowboat than sports car.

There’s no questioning the motor’s smooth yet formidable shove, however. I’ve put around 300 miles on it since it arrived but, since there are only about 500 miles on the clock, I haven’t been overindulging in fullbore launches. Thankfully, with more torque on tap than a Lamborghini Aventador, there’s no need to wring out every gear, but I’m interested to see if the rather laggy engine and gearbox calibration improves as the miles pile on. Far from a major flaw, it’s something you have to drive around a bit: wind in some throttle and it dithers for a second or two before finding the right gear and firing you towards the horizon.

Getting on the power earlier solves it, but even then you sometimes find that the gap in traffic you were aiming for has gone because it took that little bit too long to select a cog. Other things of note so far? Gone are the days when ride comfort seems to be a forgotten criterion for fast Audis with big wheels.

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