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S EXPRESS (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Audi's S5 Sportback, a car for the executive family buyer with a need for speed, now gets a smarter look and diesel power. Jonathan Crouch reports
Ten Second Reviewword count: 82
In diesel form, Audi's S5 Sportback has become a far more credible contender in the premium-badged performance segment. Buyers get a significantly more efficient, yet still uber-fast package. A potent turbocharged mild hybrid 347PS 3.0-litre TDI six cylinder unit now features beneath the bonnet. And works in concert with quattro 4WD and a quick-shifting 8-speed sports automatic. It's still perhaps, not the most engaging car of this kind you can buy, but what's been delivered here is a very complete proposition indeed.
Backgroundword count: 137
S5 Sportback history dates back to 2011. It was at this point that Audi decided the S5 range should henceforth be powered by a 333PS supercharged 3.0-litre V6, replacing the previous 4.2-litre V8. The new engine was first installed in newly created Cabriolet and Sportback S5 derivatives, with the core Coupe S5 model getting this powerplant in 2013. In 2017, Audi launched the second generation A5 Sportback range with a lighter, stiffer MLB chassis and it was time for a new S5 Sportback too. Initially, this car was fitted with a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 TFSI petrol engine developing 354PS. That unit was replaced in the Spring of 2019 by a mild hybrid 3.0 TDI diesel powerplant, then the car was lightly facelifted in the Autumn of 2019 to create the version we're going to look at here.
Driving Experienceword count: 269
So, what's it like? Well don't worry that the switch to diesel power has overly affected performance. The mild hybrid 3.0-litre TDI unit produces 347PS and 700Nm of pulling power, good enough to get this car from rest to 62mph in just 4.9s, which is only a tenth slower than the previous 3.0-litre TFSI V6 petrol unit could manage. Top speed, as before, is artificially pegged at 155mph. The engine utilises a large turbo, which is partly driven by a little electric compressor, as well as exhaust gases. Audi claims that this set-up minimises the effects of turbo lag, with the system being automatically activated whenever the requested engine load exceeds the capabilities of the turbocharger. To go with this change of engine, Audi has upgraded this car in a number of other areas, adding in Progressive steering, refining the sports suspension and incorporating a revised chassis platform, which controls the car's quattro 4WD system. The transmission remains an 8-speed Tiptronic auto unit, but this set-up's impressively quick-reacting and smooth. Not so good is the steering (it still lacks that crucial final enth of feel) and the lowered 'S' Sports suspension will be rather over-firm for some, though you can improve it by paying extra for a 'CDC' 'Continuous Damper Control' system that can be tweaked via the settings of the standard 'drive select' driving dynamics system. As well as also altering steering weight, throttle response and stability control thresholds, the 'drive select' modes can also influence the optional 'sport differential' system, which constantly varies the amount of drive to each of the rear wheels for extra cornering traction.
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Category: Sporting Cars
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