Motoring

Audi RS 5 – It Doesn’t Hang Around

I’m certainly no stranger to the Audi A5 range having had the chance to drive the entire range this year, including the S5. Recently I climbed to the very top of this impressive line-up, spending a week in the halo RS 5 Coupé. Gone is the raucous 4.2-litre V8, in its place now sits a high-tech 2.9-litre TFSI twin-turbo V6. Turns out life is still pretty dandy despite losing those two cylinders.

The 10 Minute Test Drive.

Having driven a cabriolet version fitted with the V8 way back in June 2014, I was somewhat sceptical about removing that booming soundtrack. But the twin-turbo does manage to generate enough noise to make all and sundry aware this is a car that doesn’t hang around. If you head to a dealership and take one for spin three things will be rammed home.

Firstly, the car is a technological marvel from behind the wheel. From the Virtual Instrument Cluster to the touch-sensitive or haptic surfaces rather than buttons that run things such as the air conditioning or even the overhead LED map lights.

Secondly there’s the striking nature of the class leading interior. The horizontal design of the dash and air vents, floating centre infotainment screen and perfectly executed surfaces and materials, is typically clinical in nature.

Thirdly firing up the RS 5, releases an immediate bark from the rear-end, then settles ready for action. A couple of laps around the block reveal a comfortable GT kind of car. It’s all very hushed and relaxed. But as soon as the mood takes you, you’ll be whisked away at warp speeds. The car surrounds you with almost the perfect storm of technology, luxury and sheer performance when called for.

Ins and Outs.

The new hero under the bonnet is a 2.9-litre TFSI twin-turbo V6. Good for 331kW at 5700-6700rpm and an enormous 600Nm at 1900-5000rpm. Combined with an eight-speed tiptronic transmission the RS 5 can rocket to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds. All this firepower is controlled via Audi’s quattro system, the legendary all-wheel-drive setup virtually guarantees no traction loss in all conditions. Having all four-paws glued to the ground via clever torque vectoring and a sports differential, allows the car to handle in such a manner that it almost takes the human behind the wheel out of the equation.

The car is around 60kg lighter than its predecessor, mainly due to an obviously lighter engine and the new platform the A5 range is built around. In the ride department you score Dynamic Ride Control, that can be dialled up to be as tense or as relaxed as you like. The enormous brake calipers are painted in red with RS logos, but if that’s not enough stopping power you can elect for track inspired ceramic brakes. But trust me the RS 5 stops like it has hit a brick wall.

The test car I drove featured Misano red metallic paint and an exceptionally well crafted black carbon fibre roof. A RS design package also added some beautiful touches such as the door armrests covered in black fine Nappa leather with red stitching, front floor mats with with more RS logos and touches of red, front seat belts with yet more red edging, sides of the centre console in back Alcantara as with the steering wheel and gear selector. Yes, you guessed it all with more red stitching.

The RS 5 distinguishes itself away from the S5 via lots of black glossy exterior trim elements and strips. The word quattro is plastered across the pointy end while the use of a black front spoiler, radiator grille frame and rear horizontal diffuser really turn up the dial in the looks department.

But How Does It Drive?

Simply around town, in comfort mode, basically like a limousine. Smooth, sophisticated and suave. In dynamic mode, and with the hammer down, it converts to a thrashing machine. Literally if you have the basics of approaching corners at the right angle, braking points and a sense for not being a complete imbecile, this car is almost fool proof. I don’t mind the exhaust note at all, it’s very cutting and throaty. But at the end of the day replacing a V8 soundtrack is not possible.

But such road-holding superiority doesn’t necessarily mean game, set and match. If you’re the purist of purists, you may despise the way the car seems to automate the ‘on the edge’ experience. You may like to apply some throttle and corrective steering when things get loose, you may enjoy that feeling of a car starting to buck like a horse being broken in. You won’t get that with the RS 5, somehow as precise and commanding as the drive experience is you’re most certainly left feeling a little distant. For me I feel like Daniel Riccardo, but deep down there is a sense of being a tad of a fraud when things get spirited.

The Technology Onboard.

The RS 5 is laced with it, particularly on the driver assistant front. Audi goes way beyond autonomous emergency breaking (AEB). There are so many pre-emptive systems at play that if you hit something within a 360-degree range of the car then you’ve really stuffed up. Under the ‘Pre-sense’ banner an array of sensors has your back. To such an extent Audi claims front collision mitigation up to 250km/h, handy in Europe. You can’t even open the door into oncoming cars or cyclists without lights and beeps warning you. Turn assist at low speeds will try and prevent you turning into oncoming motorists and the 360-degree reversing camera is one of the best executed.

Lighting up the road is still one of Audi’s ultimate party tricks, the LED matrix headlights are still the best around. Sure, you can find them on the new German imported Holden Commodore, but Audi’s version is supported by far more reactive and precise software. I liken them to multiple fingers of light, that bend around corners while avoiding anything that shouldn’t be dazzled or reflected off, such as street signs or motorists.

The Hip Pocket.

The RS 5 Coupé kicks off at $156,000 before on roads. That’s around a 20K saving over the previous model. But start ticking boxes and you could well end up paying $170,546 like our test car. Things such as a $4,600 carbon fibre roof, $1,846 red metallic paint, a $3,900 Technik package and the $3,300 RS design package will do that! Fuel economy on the combined cycle is rated at 8.8L/100km, expect closer to 11L in the real world. However, 16L/100km was what I averaged in the old V8, admittedly in the heavier cabriolet model.

The EFTM Rubber Stamp of Approval.

This is a great car, no doubt. It’s also a head turner, with plenty of people passing comment on it during my one-week stint. I for one love the technology, the sheer driving and handling prowess and the phenomenal craftsmanship. But I can see through the overly artificial feel of the experience. I could overlook it in a heartbeat but when you hop into say a BMW M3 or M4 you realise the importance of pure engagement for this category. I award the Audi RS 5 the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of Approval

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