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Thread: S is for special

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    Default S is for special

    http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/sub/...88431,00.html?

    Published July 19, 2008

    S is for special

    The new Audi S5 is a design masterpiece, with its intoxicating V8 burble, and unique feature called the Audi Drive Select, says SAMUEL EE



    IS the Audi S5 beautiful or bland?

    The S5, along with its less potent A5 twin, has been called a styling masterpiece, one that design boss Walter de'Silva says is the most beautiful car he has penned in his career.

    But while it looks eye-catchingly sleek, some say its smooth lines are more simple than stunning. Whatever the opinion, though, there is no denying that there are some eye-catching touches. Like the long, lithe profile - a refreshing departure from the usual chunky styling associated with German cars.

    The nose is also distinctive with its cool daytime running lights - an LED strip in the headlamp lights up whenever the engine comes alive.

    The S5 4.2 FSI quattro is a souped-up version of the A5 coupe from Audi's sports division. Open the frameless door of this special four-seater, slide into the sumptuous leather sports seat, hit the start button and the first thing that strikes you as you drive off is how much more raw it feels compared with previous S models.

    Part of this is due to the intoxicating V8 burble being more discernible than usual, and part of it is because of a wonderful new feature called the Audi Drive Select. The former is a result of Audi optimising the S5's sound and injecting the car with more emotion, while the latter is a driver assistance program. With Audi Drive Select, steering assistance and damping control are variable, while a more aggressive throttle response and gear shift pattern are possible. You choose between Comfort, Auto or Dynamic modes and if that isn't enough, configure your own combination under Individual.

    In Dynamic setting, the S5 is positively visceral. Depending on the road surface, the ride can get rougher than one of Robert Mugabe's thugs. But on-road control is great and it is perfect for track use. The steering wheel also feels sharper and when you jab the accelerator, the S5 leaps forward like something feral unleashed.

    Yet this is supposed to be a genteel grand tourer, not a hardcore race car. Its dynamic abilities are thanks to a new platform that features new suspension and a front axle that has been moved forward 15cm for a longer wheelbase and better weight distribution

    The low-slung coupe also feels more agile and a whole lot sportier because of the quattro all-wheel-drive system's new front/rear torque distribution of 40:60 (from 50:50 previously). This rearward bias means the S5 will oversteer on the limit, although such behaviour is more likely to be experienced on a circuit rather than in the city.

    On ordinary roads though, the car handles perfectly. It is neutral in corners and enthusiastic on the expressways, yet highly manoeuvrable in tighter situations. The six-speed tiptronic-style gearshift also has steering wheel paddles for spirited driving. The only bugbear is a constricted footwell that doesn't allow the left leg much space to rest comfortably.

    Still, the S5 is an amazingly attractive proposition because of its pricing. This 4.2-litre V8 with all-wheel-drive and a long list of standard equipment costs less than $250,000. Apart from Audi Drive Select, there is also the clever Audi Parking System, among other things. Its rearview camera and superimposed reference lines plot your intended rearward path. With it, you will be guided into some strange and wonderful spaces that you never dared reverse into before.

    Also included is keyless entry and ignition, as well as the sublime Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker sound system. The last feature should make a drive in the S5 even sweeter.

    Audi S5
    Engine: 4,163cc V8
    Gearbox: 6-speed tiptronic transmission
    Max power: 354 hp @ 7,000 rpm
    Max torque: 440 Nm @ 3,500 rpm
    0-100 kmh: 5.4 secs
    Top speed: 250 kmh (governed)
    Price: $245,000 (with COE)
    Distributor: Premium Automobiles, tel 6566-1111

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    Wait for the next S5 with supercharged 3.0-V6 instead of this naturally-aspired 4.2-V8?

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