BY THAMI MASEMOLA

Is thing a beauty or what?

It sure is a thing of beauty. In fact, the Chief Designer at Audi Mr Walter da Silva, said when this car was launched that it is the most beautiful car he has ever designed. What most people don’t know is that the A5 was designed by Satoshi Wada, under the guidance of da Silva. Regardless, the lines on the S5 are flowy, very fluid and seem to have a rhythm of their own. It has got a wide aggressive stance thanks to wide wheel arches for showing its power, as well as other tidbits like rear spoiler, front multi-rectangular grille and18-inch wheels. Of course the first thing anyone notices about the S5 are those blue LED lights that form the shape of an upside down brow. First seen in the R8, these lights are becoming the distinctive feature of many new Audi A4s and will be spotted in future models like the A6, A7 and A8 too.

What other cars does it compete with?

Well there’s the main rival which is the BMW 335i. The differences in performance between the two are negligible, while in size they are also quite similar, although you would look at the S5 and think it is a much bigger car. Mercedes-Benz CLK500 is also a competitor in this segment.

What engine is used?

The Audi S5 packs a useful 4.2-litre V8 engine, the same one found in the discontinued RS4. It gives a satisfying growl, not in the screaming sense but more like two lions making a cub, if you know what I mean. Although the engine doesn’t quite make the same amount of power as RS4, the S5 does crank out a good 260kW and 440Nm under its belly. With these figures it’s able to sun from 0 – 100km/h in just 6 seconds, topping off at 260km/h. The car I had came with a 6-speed manual gearbox, but there is an automatic Tiptronic option for those too old, I mean too lazy, I mean too relaxed to drive manual. I found the manual slightly loose, not very precise in its engagement. Also steering was a bit indirect as well, but much better than a number of other Audis in the range. From everyday driving plus a few spirited runs (which completely target fuel efficiency) I managed an average consumption figure of 12.5 litres per 100km. This translated to a travelling range from one tank of about 500km. Not a bad number for a 4.2-litre V8 driven by quattro all-wheel-drive. Quattro by the way, works as a great traction system that allows for good take-off thanks to its grip abilities. However, the system is a shade slower in reaction than rival systems from auto makers like Subaru and BMW.

Nice! How’s the car inside?

As expected there is luxury galore in the interior. Alcantara leather, which is a velvety-type leather, is used to enhance some of the comfort levels and is found on the hugging sporty seats. We had MMI which is for controlling functions like radio, MP3/CD player (which came with a 6-disk changer) and satellite navigation. MMI is a good system, but I find it has too many buttons, thus defeating the purpose of simplifying the cabin. Nevertheless you do get used to it.

How practical is the S5?

You don’t really buy a car with only two entry doors for its practicality really. For that get an A6 or A4 Avant. S5 is really about sporting power, the look and performance. Sure you can fit in four adults inside, and take luggage at the back, but the main thing is performance.

Ok. What price are we talking here?

You can pay R582 500 for the S5. Or you can wait until 2009 when the new RS5 high-performance version is launched. Up to you really.

Would you buy it?

Absolutely.

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