Long term test: Audi S5 Sportback

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A long term test report on the Audi S5 Sportback and its supercharged 3.0L TFSI engine. 

With the Sportback, Audi has pioneered midsize premium coupe-sedans. The S5 version adds the performance of a supercharged, direct-injected 3 liter V6 , and a sportier stance. Under this skin, the core is all rigour and competence, but falls shorts in terms of sportiness. We reflect on the ownership experience after 1 year and 12’000 miles.

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A comfy sedan, all-wheel-drive transmission due to marital and geographical contingencies, high standards of interior finish – which rules out many candidates – for a 100’000 CHF budget, the contenders list for the replacement of my daily driver rapidly shrunk to two models of the Audi portfolio: S4 Avant or S5 Sportback. Voices of reason would have called for a V6 turbo diesel, but the lack of refinement of these powertrains sounded like capitulation. My hesitations between the wagon and the coupe-sedan lasted longer. The S5 eventually won me over for its less utilitarian feel. Of equal length but lower overall, with a higher belt line and frameless doors, driving experience prevailed over practicality.

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This is my way of rationalizing my attraction to the design of the Sportback, a derivative of the A5 Coupe, but with a more graceful cut of the C pillar than the abrupt fall on the two door version. The signature character line running from headlamps to headlights is preserved, but the stern is altered with a gentler slope. The wheelbase gains 60mm over the coupe, but is identical to the A4/S4 sedan and wagon. Cosmetic treatment uses all the cues of the S range, with protruding rockers, a deck lip, a sportier fascia and four oval tailpipes to stand out from a TDI in S-Line camouflage.

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I dove in the options list with realism, serenity and resolution. And an appetite just short of gluttony. Sport memory seats, sunroof, dual tone leather, carbon inserts, MMI Plus satnav, magnetic ride and therefore drive select, adaptive cruise control, B&O sound system, Bluetooth, keyless, parking assistance with camera and three-zone AC. I then splurged on the famed Suzuka Gray Audi Exclusive paint job – a pearlescent grey-white introduced on the R8 V10, the black cosmetic pack and a removable tow hook. The result is a very pleasantly equipped car whose base price ballooned by 29.3%, no less. The only significant box left un-ticked was the rear sport differential, theoretically out of place in a car that ambitions to be a plush grand tourer, not an outright hoon machine.

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