Trips back to my hometown in Goa aren’t about stopping to smell the roses, but they also aren’t about trying to set a new time record. The trip typically sees a 9am departure and about 10-11 hours later, we’re home in Margao, with about two or three stops en route. This time, however,
I have the Audi S5 Sportback joining me on this 600km-plus journey and I’m sure it’s going be a quick one without even trying.
Of course, I am a little apprehensive. The S5 is a low-slung car and while ground clearance is decent (for a car of this class), it’s also got a very long wheelbase, and so I’ll have to keep a steely eye out to judge speed breaker height and road conditions.
Instrument panel displays Android Auto music info.
My wife is concerned too. At first, I think she’s chickening out of driving, but what she’s worried about is the S5’s swoopy roofline eating into luggage space. As always, it’s the four of us and our luggage – which at this time of the year includes gifts for the extended family back home. I hadn’t given this much thought but come loading time, it was obvious I should have. The boot is wide and, at 480 litres, it is quite large too, but due to the high floor and the coupé-like roofline, usable space is good only if you stick to suitcases; fitting household items were tricky. However, after two repacks of the boot, we did manage to get it all in.
Next on the worry list was my daughter. She feels woozy at times on drives and softly sprung cars do not help, but there were no such complaints in the S5. Body roll is minimal and it’s nice and grippy through corners, allowing me to push a bit harder than I normally would without rocking the proverbial boat. Open stretches allowed us higher speeds too. The S5 delivers a very planted and secure feel and it’s easy to maintain triple-digit speeds, and what really pushed us was the soundtrack; use Dynamic mode and it really sings, with the engine and exhaust delivering a superb duet. The manner in which the S5 piles on speed and the accompanying soundtrack meant the entire family was egging me on for some childlike bursts of speed. However, minutes later, a drop of two bars in the fuel gauge reminds me of our long-term goal.
With careful placement, boot can swallow a fair bit.
This brings me to mileage – 9.3kpl was the overall best, and, measuring on the trip computer, one high-speed section saw this drop to 5.5kpl. But, honestly, does it really matter? Not to me, even though this journey eventually cost me twice over, compared to a luxury diesel car; it was Christmas time, a time to be merry and so on we went, foot tapping and S5 singing.
The journey, however, wasn’t faster as I’d expected. While cruising was quick, toll plazas played leveller, as did the city sections with their speed breakers and, of course, the two fuel halts in addition to our lunch and tea stop. Still total time stood at 11 hours 20 minutes for the 630km; not bad by our standards and, of course, each and every one of those minutes was pure joy. And I must say, although it was a crab-crawl (and not the crab Xacuti that’s popular in Goa), negotiate speed breakers in this manner and the S5 will clear nearly all but the maddest of them.
For the price, sunblinds should have been present.
The S5 really is a great high-speed cruiser. Yes, on our roads, you do have to crawl over speed breakers and it isn’t a car you’d use to drive elderly passengers around in. I tried it with my parents but getting into the car wasn’t comfy – you have to stoop and then drop in. And, quite naturally, they didn’t appreciate the noise (soundtrack) and the reckless speed (planted cruising). But as it was proved over this trip, the S5 is a darn good long-distance car. It’s fast and sure-footed with a ride that’s not firm or jarring but surprisingly good. It runs regular fuel (although I stuck with the premium mix), the interior kept us comfy (the front seats even have a massage function) and the boot took in our odd-sized luggage. Oh, and did I mention it is fast?