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The butch and fast Audi S5 being road tested in Jumeirah. The styling and performance get top marks but it will take deep pockets to keep the tank filled with petrol.
The butch and fast Audi S5 being road tested in Jumeirah. The styling and performance get top marks but it will take deep pockets to keep the tank filled with petrol.

2009 Audi S5

The A5 is a good-looking coupe, but when Audi waves that magic S wand it turns into one sexy beast.

What turns a movie star or a singer into an A-list celebrity? To be honest, no one knows, it's that little bit of je ne sais quoi, that special little something that takes a famous person to the top ranks of the high flyers. It's really the same with a car. What makes the humble saloon or coupe a stunning sports car, a vehicle you just can't live without, feel the need to look at and wash on a weekly basis, even though the chap down the road will do it for a mere Dh25. It's the feeling it gives you deep in your heart - it's like falling in love.

Last week I fell in love: he was slate grey, butch, fast, had an amazing profile and it was pretty much love at the first turn of the key. Let me introduce you to the Audi S5. There is no doubt that the A5 is a good-looking coupe but when Audi waves that magic S wand it turns into one sexy beast. As you slide in to the drivers seat you are hugged and supported by acres of leather and some very comfortable sports seats; if you have a family you will be pleased to note that not only is there plenty of room for four in this coupe but the seats also come with lugs onto which you can attach your child's car seat.

If you do feel the need to take children in the car, rest assured there is plenty of room in the capacious boot. Just be careful - as with most coupe's the lip is very high and you will need to take care in order not to scratch the paint work. The recent trend of dark head-linings runs the risk of making a vehicle very dark inside; however the S5 benefits from the fabulous sunshine roof that runs most of the length of the car and brightens things up no end. Just don't forget to pull the sunshade when you leave the vehicle on sunny days, to avoid the interior turning into an oven.

The interior is up to the high standard we have come to expect from Audi, which is honestly one of the best around. However, Audi is following a worrying trend. Ladies and gentleman lower your hats... we must mourn the death of the handbrake. Note I say handbrake ... it has always been a handle right next to your right hand, which can be plenty of fun on a private section of tarmac with the ESP off.

It seems these days everyone is moving towards the idea of a parking brake. I know the little silver switches look much prettier on the centre console but how on earth do you do a hand-break turn? To find fault with the S5 you need to be very picky indeed and the only place I could really find fault was the seat belt. For those of us who are not the tallest, there is a really uncomfortable reach back to find the belt, this could easily be sorted by a small leather strap which keeps the belt at the top of the seat as you would find in the Cabriolet.

When you turn the key, the needles on the dials swish round and the wonderful 4.2-litre V8 emits the most brilliant noise. It growls, its purrs and most of all it goes; it is as slick as a warm knife through butter. Coupes normally suffer from the most appalling blind spots but the design boffins at Audi seem to have conquered this problem and the visibility is actually very good. Team this with a superb dynamic suspension, Audi's permanent all-wheel drive system and brakes that could stop you on a dirham and you have a confidence-inspiring vehicle which is a huge challenge to leave in the garage.

The styling is divine, as nice from the rear as from the front but the real star of the styling is the front grille and spoiler, which really screams sports car. Many coupes are too low at the front and the spoilers tend to catch on those annoying little concrete blocks on the ground that some genius thinks we all need to stop crashing into the car parked in front. The S5's spoiler seems to be designed with these in mind: low enough to look good but not so low as to risk being knocked off.

As I mentioned, you have to be pretty picky to find fault with the Audi S5, and I am afraid it does suffer from a bit of a drinking problem. As you watch the speed climb you can almost watch the fuel reading drop; it will consume 12.4 litres of go-go juice for every 100km. I suspect part of this consumption is the fact that it just begs to be driven with gusto. If you are going to increase your carbon footprint, I can certainly think of a lot less fun ways of doing it.

Not only will you need deep pockets to fill the tank on the S5 but you will also need them to have it parked in your driveway in the first place. With all the lovely little Audi add-ons, like the terrific Bang & Olufsen Sound System, the price of the SS climbed to Dh295,000. Is it worth it? Well, if you want a car that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face every time you look at it, not to mention fire it up, then it's a categorical yes! As soon as I find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I will be straight down to my local Audi dealer. motoring@thenational.ae

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