I lined up my car behind the shining tail lights of a Gotland green Sportback. There was a crackling radio noise echoing in the entire cabin. But, I wasn’t really bothered about it. I was busy admiring the all-digital instrument console laid out in front of me. When the crackling noise stopped, the Sportback ahead of me promptly dipped its tail down and accelerated straight ahead in no time. Then it made some quick direction changes with faint tyre screeching noises. The cracking voice on the radio broke into my reverie again and it asked me to follow suit.
I was behind the steering wheel of Audi’s new sleeper – the S5. The track out in front of me, interspersed with bright red traffic cones, was the corridor of the Mahalaxmi Racecourse in Mumbai. We were at the 2017 Audi Weekender. Audi India invited us to the weekender, where customers (both existing and prospective) were given a taste of their vehicle’s performance and capability. Especially, the ones equipped with their famous Quattro AWD system. There was a Q-Drive out in the muck as well and you can read all about it over here.
After the briefing, we headed out from the air-conditioned tent into the scorching heat of Mumbai. But the weather was nowhere near as hot as the car parked on the podium in front of us. Standing in all its glory was the Audi RS6 Avant, the super station-wagon, seductively calling out for attention. Painted in a striking red hue and reposed in a super silhouette, the RS6 sat snugly on gorgeous 21-inch wheels. If you must know, the RS6 can devour supercars for breakfast and yet drop the kids off at school too. Sadly this exclusive piece of metal was there today as a visual delight only and not to rip the paver blocks of the race course.
After drooling over the RS6’s beauty, we awaited our turn in the S5 and the TT. First up for me was the plush cabin of the S5. The four-door Sportback, painted a Navarra Blue metallic colour, gleamed in the afternoon sun. The crackling radio asked me to drive across the three Audi TTs lined up ahead of me and pull up right behind the other S5 present there. I slotted the short, ergonomic gear lever into Drive. Under the hood was a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 pumping out a healthy 35bhp and 500Nm. I expected a massive surge of power to shove me into the seats as I tried to discreetly whizz past the TTs. But I was surprised at how docile the S5 was. Or was it?
When the green S5 pulled away from me and disappeared amongst the cones in the distance, I was given a go on the radio. I saw the course on which the green S5 performed. It was a straight stretch of about 200metres after which I had to throw the car into a slalom of around eight cones and then turn around and do an acceleration run all the way back. There was also a red flag marked as the breaking point.
When I pushed my right foot down, I was able to feel all the four wheels gripping the paver blocks with all their might. I was catapulted forward and the slalom course arrived in a blink of the eye. With quick direction changes, the four-door body style made itself evident. Although it is lighter than its predecessor, and the Quattro AWD traction is brutal, the slalom course seemed too narrow for the S5. The car felt a little too planted for covering a slalom course. What’s more, a little extra feedback from the steering would have made the experience a tad more enjoyable.
After turning around, I lined up for the acceleration run. When given a go, all I did was put my foot down. As I predicted earlier, the S5 slammed me back into the well-padded seats as the car shot forward. At that point, all I could hear was the howl from the quad-exhaust which was like an assault on all my senses. Even as I felt the upshift was felt, the red flag was waved. Releasing the accelerator paddle, I put down all my might on the brake paddle. The S5 slowed down soon enough for me to safely crawl back into the line-up.