It’s fast and it looks great, but what’s it like to use every day?
It was just the way it went, but it looked perhaps like a bit of a cop-out. We’d had the gleaming and sleek S5 for a late spring, then summer and autumn, but it went home just as the winter weather started to get settled in. But, really, that’s not because we didn’t think the rag-top could hack it.
You know how it is, when you’re called home you have no way of not going. So it was with the Audi, returning to Audiland. We had no worries about it managing a winter since there really was very little downside to not having a tin top. Even at motorway speeds it was about as quiet as a hard-top. Things really have moved on.
And progress could always be as rapid as you liked, with the 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 pumping out 349bhp with a hefty 369lb ft of torque. The eight-speed transmission worked those numbers very smoothly indeed, whether handling it itself or being changed via the paddles. In fact the way the powerplant delivered its thrust more than compensated for the slightly porky weight of 1840kg.
Throughout the nine months and about 14,000 miles the car was with us the cabin in particular showed absolutely no signs of wear. Okay those aren’t big numbers, but it had about eight different drivers all banging out the miles, and everything remained pristine. Audi really does build very good cabins.
In reality we didn’t really need the £300 wind deflector since we never used it, nor the £950 Dynamic Steering which always felt rather artificial. However, we liked the £750 B&O upgrade as well as the locking rear diff and S suspension pack. But really the car comes well equipped at all levels.
Keeping up with the numbers, we managed about 26mpg overall, which isn’t exactly wonderful, but at least it’s a touch better than the previous V8 could have done.
Those miles were mostly effortless, but if we had a longer journey to accomplish we noticed a pattern developing. The bulk of the miles would be banged out on the motorway or major roads and then, for the last 50 miles or so, we’d switch to smaller roads and put the roof down. That meant a slower last part of the trip, but it was often delightful and calming and we arrived fresher and more relaxed. Well, except for one time.
That was the occasion on a back road in Gloucestershire, when a deer jumped out right in front of us. We were doing about 40mph and hit and killed the deer. The front of the car was rearranged quite comprehensively, although the airbags didn’t go off. A few thousand pounds later the car was back on the road and in pristine condition again – sadly something that can’t be said for the deer.
Overall though, this was a splendid companion for the miles. Granted, the rear seats seem so cramped that people won’t want to sit in them, and the whole experience is rather less sporting than that ‘S’ might lead you to believe, but as a well-made car with a good turn of speed and the ability to be either motorway barge or back-lane wafter, it fitted the bill perfectly.