2007 Audi S5 Coupe (GB)

As correctly guessed by many, my test car for this weekend is indeed an Audi S5. Very smart it looks, too, even though a metallic black car on a day like today was not easy for the photographer!

Initially I was surprised at just how different it felt from my S4, but as it is a completely different model, based on a different platform, perhaps I should not have been. It certainly feels noticeably faster than the S4, with a really evident thrust of extra power available from just about any gear and at any speed. It also sounds absolutely terrific. The engine is more vocal than the S4, but in a nice sort of way, and at a cruising speed on the motorway, it is, if anything, a tad quieter. The gearshift is good – even better than the S4, which itself is the best VAG change I have ever come across. It’s not all good news, though. For a start, there is the cursed electronic handbrake thing. I don’t care what anyone says, these things are a nightmare. Ask Piers if I managed to do a reverse hill start with this device without going a few feet forward until I had the clutch balanced…………. as soon as you press the throttle, the theory goes, the brake releases. Except frequently it did not, today, and a little warning message lit up telling me to release it, which seemed require me to put my foot on the brake pedal. The thing is a stupid idea, in my opinion. Period!

Whilst I’m in complaining mode, then let’s add a few more items:

  • The gearlever has a long lever, which coupled with the high transmission tunnel means the whole thing is about 2″ too high There is no explicit foot rest for your left foot. Just a moulding on the floor. 
  • The whole interior dash ambience is somewhat fussier than the usual clean simplicity of an Audi dash – the 2 main dials are in chrome ringed dials, which are angled, and the anciliary gauges are very small. 
  • Although overall interior quality is high, there are some cheap plastics, especially the area above the driver’s knee
  • There’s not much in the way of oddments space inside apart from 2 very deep cup holders, and a small slot alongside them, which was just wide enough for my phone.

Unlike the rather difficult to fathom system in last week’s Alfa, the Audi MMI interface here seemed quite straightforward, though too many functions are not simply the click of a button like they used to be, requiring you to go to the right menu, and select the option or setting you want. In reality, most of the functions are ones which you would set when you get the car and probably leave alone.

This is a coupe, but even so, I was surprised at how little space there is in the back. Perhaps it is as well that one of the Road Test Assistants was not available this weekend after all!

There is, however, quite a roomy and regular shaped boot, and under the floor, there is a real spare wheel.

Under the bonnet, the 4.2 litre V8 looked familiar, though there are detailed differences. The oil filler cap is not on quite such a slant (which makes it so hard to pour oil in!). However, this is the car where the engine is alleged to be mounted further back in the chassis, to help the handling…….. it certainly looks pretty marginal to me! This engine is still pretty well forward.

Does that mean the handling is no better, then? Well, I subscribe to the view that the only limitations of the outgoing (my) S4 are likely to be in extremes, and hence probably on a track, so it’s hard to tell what differences there really are here. Certainly, the S5 felt safe, it handled the corners well, and the ride seemed a little less harsh than my S4, or at least it did until we found some challenging roads in the Forest of Dean! One other thing did surprise me: the driver’s seat had a very worn side bolster indeed. For a car that had done only 9000 miles, this was very surprising – even if they have been hard press and demo miles. Otherwise, this looks and feels a quality product. There are lots of nice touches. One of the best are the “follow me” headlights, that turn with the steering.

So, overall, a very agreeable car, as I expected. The lack of space I could probably live with. The electronic handbrake, I am not so sure! Still on the short list, then……… Next car – due in 3 weeks time – is also an 8 cylinder device…….. a Beast, in fact. Watch this space!

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