You don’t need to know fast Audis very well to understand that the S5 won’t be the quickest or most powerful model in the A5-based line-up.

But while Audi’s RS halo cars have typically been more highly strung and demanding to drive than their S-badged inferiors, not to mention more expensive and shorter-lived in production, it’s for the S5 to make its speed more accessible in everyday, real-world driving.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The S5 doesn’t have launch control, but the driveline lets you wind up the torque converter then deploy every pound of torque with virtually no wheelspin

And that, when you look at our test data, is exactly what the S5 does. Despite giving up a fair bit of peak power to its rivals, the Audi matches the 0-60mph acceleration of both the Lexus RC F we tested and the Alpina B3, at least to within a couple of tenths of a second.

The advantage of four driven wheels is in play there, of course, but from 30-70mph through the gears the S5 is still within about half a second of those competitors. Second-fiddle sports coupé or not, it packs a punch.

However, Audi’s graphical representation of the turbocharged V6’s broad plateau of peak torque doesn’t quite tally with your perception of the combustive clout from on board.

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The S5 doesn’t feel brutish at full power, it doesn’t quite haul forwards with the eerie consistency you might expect of it and it always seems to have more traction than it needs at both axles – even in slippery conditions.

Flatten the pedal in manual mode and there’s some turbo lag at very low revs, followed by a gathering of fervour at 2000rpm and then another at 4000rpm, with the free-revving range extending all the way to the 6500rpm redline.

There isn’t the torque to pick off part-throttle A-road overtakes as you might in a C 63 S, but the AMG is a £70k car, let’s not forget, and a C 43 doesn’t offer that, either.

What you do get from the S5, and not so often from cars of its ilk, is a powertrain that knows slickness and civility. At urban speeds, the car’s engine sounds muted and its eight-speed gearbox times its shifts immaculately and executes them with perfect smoothness.

We’d prefer a little more aural drama, but it’s possible that the typical S5 owner, who likes that his car doesn’t drone on the motorway, really wouldn’t.

And nor, we’re sure, would he gladly surrender much of the range conferred by the car’s 33mpg real-world touring economy (in Efficiency mode only, when the car in effect disconnects its rear axle on the motorway) in return for pace he can’t often use in daily driving.

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