On the road: Audi S5 - macho man
While the Audi TT brought a sexy element to the car-maker, its S5 goes a step further and makes you feel like a bit of a rogue
Remember the BMW 850? It was low slung, sleek and preening, and not a little cheesy.
A bit of a cad's car. It was a disaster for BMW sales, but I miss it and secretly envied its owners. They were the kind of men who wore far too much aftershave and who didn't need to worry if their back seats were too small or how many miles they got per gallon. And they drove a car with pop-up lights!
A limited demographic, you might think, but one Audi is keen to exploit. It used to be you knew what you were getting with an Audi – sombre elegance and refined simplicity. Even the stonking V8 ones looked like something Clark Kent would drive.
The TT changed our perceptions a little and the recent R8 blew them out of the water. Audi now clearly thinks of itself as a sexy, raffish car-maker for unusually suave accountants perhaps, or celebratory post-divorce company directors.
Its latest salvo is the S5. It is not all that different from an A4 or A6 but with two fewer doors and a Coke bottle undulation on the side. It has the same 4.0 litre V8 and Quattro 4WD system as the S4. It also has Audi's new-look, ultra-thin daytime running LED headlights, which give it a foxy Fenella Fielding, heavy eyeliner look. Other than that, everything is pretty much standard Audi, from the gorgeous, macho interior to the retina-threatening ride and weirdly dead steering.
It looks a much more expensive car than its rival, the £35,000 BMW 335i, and is, but for almost £40,000 you get a car that makes you feel special. This is where the S5 excels. You won't be mistaken for middle management in one – I can imagine half the cast of The Apprentice eyeing it – and it attempts a sensuality and theatre that Audis haven't exhibited before. Sensuality doesn't necessarily equate to beauty, and from some angles the S5 can look like a fairground mirror Bentley GT, but it's a start.
The S5 isn't radical enough to move Audi on the quantum distance the R8 and TT did, but there was a part of me – the part that sometimes quite seriously considers buying leather trousers, before imagining how that would look from a distance – that wouldn't say no. Of course, if it had pop-up lights we'd really be talking.