Class, confidence and comfort hides the beast within
You may be reading this expecting the new RS5 to be Audi’s latest attempt to go head-to-head and toe-to-toe with on-paper competitors from BMW and Mercedes. If so, you’d be doing Audi a
dis-service. Wisely, they’ve adopted a different approach for a car in this category. The RS5 acknowledges that most of the time what drivers want of a car, that may well be their everyday ride, is one that’s easy to live with and relatively comfortable - even a performance monster like this. It still needs to thrill though and trying to combine extreme performance with comfort and live-ability is a risk – so, has it paid off?
Let’s start with the straight-forward bit. It looks great, both inside and out. Looks and finish have always been an Audi strong point, having an uncanny knack of creating something that’s imposing and dramatic yet stylish and not at all ashy or overly muscular, all whilst still being instantly recognisable as an Audi. And the RS5 ticks all these boxes. Inside fit, slick finish and ergonomics are exemplary. The leather seats and
driving position are supremely comfortable which all makes the cabin a great place to be.
The RS5 has all the tech you’d expect and more besides. Audi’s ‘Virtual Cockpit’ comes as standard with a 12.3-inch congurable TFT screen and features a host of useful functions, plus a barrage of performance data, such as turbo boost pressure and a G-meter. Also impressive amongst the swathe of kit are the standard acoustic windows and a wealth of Audi’s latest safety technology.
The single biggest change though is under the bonnet. Out goes the lovely, but long in the tooth, naturally aspirated 4.2 V8 to be replaced by a state of the art, twin-turbo 2.9 V6 developed in conjunction with Porsche. It’s lighter, by 31kg, much more economical, has as much power and way more torque. Performance is huge. With 444bhp, 442lb of torque and launch control it races to 62mph in less than 4 seconds and powers on to a limited 155mph, which can be raised to 174mph for those who want to take it to an autobahn or track as an extra. But, it’s the in-gear acceleration that’s most remarkable. Overtaking, or powering
out of a corner, it’s slingshot fast. Its exhaust note is deliberately quieter than the old V8 (though switching to dynamic adds bass and volume). The sense of high- rev drama’s not quite the same either but there’s no doubting it’s a much more accomplished and better all-round performer with immense power on tap.You get the same sense from the handling. The intention is not just to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as you dice with on the edge grip. It is a much more engaging drive than its predecessor, being 60kg lighter, with a new, stffier chassis, five-link suspension and new ‘dynamic’ steering. But, more
than anything, rather than ‘in yer face’ excitement, what you have here is a supremely capable, confidence inspiring car that can calmly negotiate corners of all shapes and sizes at immense speed in complete control. Pretty much what you would expect from a limited slip diff and Audi’s mastery of four wheel drive, though knowing that doesn’t prepare you for just how well it does it.
The other big plus to this is that it’s an easy car to
live with and extremely rewarding for old-school
GT journeys, touring mid Wales, the Highlands of Scotland or the south of France. It’s comfortable and soaks up our increasingly pot-holed roads with aplomb and it’s very refined, with minimal wind-noise. If you dig deep and tweak the settings (where you can pick ‘n’ mix your favourite engine, steering, suspension and transmission configurations) the excitement can be had, but this only serves to make you appreciate the breadth of the RS5’s talents even more. It’s refined and comfortable and perfect for continental trips or short hops, yet within lurks a thrilling performance beast if that’s what takes your fancy on a given day.