Discreet yet rampant in the way it gets up the road. Stick it in Dynamic and you get the piped-in engine noise to make it more obvious just how much speed you’re gaining - and it’ll be a lot, given the voracious way the V6 spins through to its redline. But even then, the S5 feels definitively and unashamedly more fast, luxury GT rather than sports car.
The same can be said of its handling. Our car came on standard 19in alloys but with £900 adaptive dampers, which are well worth adding. Even over quite severely roughed-up British B-roads, our S5 smoothed out the niggly stuff, leaving you with a bit of heaving over long wave bumps but otherwise a composed and unflustered ride. Needless to say, lope out onto the motorway and you’ll be relaxing all the way to the boardroom, given that refinement and directional stability are as excellent as you'd expect but for some slightly thrummy tyre noise in the background.
Our car also had the £950 Dynamic steering, which brings a variable-ratio rack. We’d steer clear (excuse the pun) of this particular addition, since it makes for an overly aggressive turn-in at higher speeds that can make the car feel quite nervous at just the wrong moment. The standard steering will be more progressive and generally a bit easier to get on with. You’ll still be left wanting if you’re after something with real character and involvement, though. Crushingly effective the S5 Sportback might be, but it’s no fingertip-tingling driver's car; a BMW 440i Gran Coupé certainly feels a bit more on its toes.
Given the interior benefits of the S5 Sportback, you’d have to really want the more purposeful looks of the Coupé to plump for that instead. Three passengers in the back of the Sportback is going to be a bit uncomfortable, but two adults will have decent legroom even behind a tall driver, while headroom is a bit more at a premium but will be okay for sub-six footers.
The boot is a good size - deeper than you might expect and with a good floor space, so it'll be big enough for whatever boot-fillings an A5 Sportback buyer is likely to be concerned with. The 40/20/40 split rear bench also fold down to leave a smooth, long loadbay, so it’ll manage for the odd Ikea trip as well.
Everything in the driver’s environment is seriously impressive. You get the 8.3in screen with sat-nav , DAB and two USB inputs, as well as electrically adjustable, heated nappa leather sports seats, and a long list of other comfort and safety features as standard, so you don’t need to plunder the options list even though you probably will.