On a soggy and dreary Monday morning a group of us were bussed to Karaka for the local launch of a new car. The combination of time, day and weather may sound like I wasn’t looking forward to this event, however that couldn’t be further from the truth. As we arrived at Te HiHi, there was more than just the place name to put a smile on my face, the new car was the Audi A5/S5 and this was quattro territory.
The A5 has a particular importance to the Audi brand as it is viewed as a bridge to the A6/A7 line-up. In 2 or 5 door it suits the executive progressive individual So the venue Audi NZ had chosen for the event seemed particularly apt.
Te HiHi Estate is an absolutely glorious place. Set on 92 acres of perfectly formed and manicured land, the 6 bedroom residence is both modern in design but classic in theme. It has a pool and pool room, a Spa, an outdoor entertaining area, a gym with sauna (and Warriors pictures) and a 9 hole golf course – oh and Alpacas. It even has a helicopter pad to get there instead of the bus, just thought I’d mention that HiHi. With coffee under way we sat down to a briefing on the other luxurious, classic and somewhat sporty creation, the new Audi A5.
There is no doubt that the Audi designers had their sports gear on under their suits when they put pen to paper for the new A5/S5. Its long nose boasts a power dome; not as prominent as one from the 80’s but still hard to miss, especially as it’s nudged up to the wider flatter singleframe grille. The profile is an eye catching array of flowing shadows produced by the sharp ‘tornado wave’ shoulder line and (on the S5 Coupe) flared wheel arches. Stretched wheelbase and reduced overhangs keeps the athletic feel with horizontal lines at the rear maintaining the ‘wide’ theme. The rear brake light takes up most of the top window, making it very hard to miss and it has sporty dual tailpipes (quad in the S version).
The horizontal theme continues on inside and helps add a more roomy effect, although saying that, it isn’t cramped anyway. It has a generous amount of chrome, aluminium, piano blacks and leather to keep the most picky of executives happy and more than its fair share of technology. Smart and sophisticated is a great combination.
However, it doesn’t stop there. The S5’s sportiness nudges up towards the R8 and TTS. The A5 has a 2L TFSI 185kW/370Nm powertrain that claims 0-100kph figures of 6 seconds, while the S5 has a 3L TFSI 260kW/500Nm that claims a 0-100kph time of 4.7 seconds. These numbers are even more impressive when realise that you’re sitting in a luxurious Coupe that is 4.67M in length!
The drive route was set out as a loop that offered long straights for the Audi to stretch its legs and plenty of twisties for it to show off its handling, we somehow managed to wrangle the S5 and set everything to sport. The V6 engine sounds confident but stately, it lets you know that it’s there but not in an overly shouty way. The power is delivered relatively smoothly (unless you stamp on the go faster pedal) and the resulting speed gets into treble figures with ease – so I recommend you beware.
The interior feels and in fact is, plush and refined. The cabin design (especially from the front two seats) is spacious and lush; while the sports seats cradle your frame more than adequately, stopping you from fidgeting around when you corner at speed – something you tend to do often. On the subject of cabin space, the Coupe is a bit tight on rear seat leg room but the Sportback has you covered should you regularly have the requirement for 3+ people – possibly more regularly than you’d anticipate should you own one of these puppies. Both models have more than ample trunk space though, (465L/480L Coupe/Sportback) room for golf clubs and suitcases.
With the onset of winter garnishing the wet roads with fallen leaves, let’s just say I was more than happy that I had the quattro system working hard under foot. I could almost sense the power move from axle to axle and there was a hint of twitchiness as the system tried to correct my overly zealous cornering – on saying that, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to push many vehicles in that manner. It felt responsive and above all else, felt fun and involved to drive.
Arriving back at the Estate, we were treated to a fine lunch of beef cheeks that had been slow roasted for what seemed like days, they were ‘melt in the mouth’ delicious.This was followed by a quick wrap up of the day before grabbing the keys for the drive back to town. I (unfortunately HiHi) ended up with the S5 again.
The route back to the city was meant to take another wide country drive however, with time getting on, clouds darkening and traffic congestion increasing I opted to jumping on the highway and headed straight back to town. Heated seats on and massage function on max, I relaxed and embraced the ride.
The new A5/S5 is a great blend of refinement and (when wanted) excitement. It’s well poised on the road both town and rural and has a style that necessitates a second look but thankfully not a gawp. Its elegance and style made it really feel right at home at the Te HiHi estate (even if I didn’t) and the car’s sportiness welcomed being pushed around the countryside. Overall I have to say, the new A5/S5 really is a Karaka of a car.
Photo: Simon Watts/www.bwmedia.co.nz
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