Any Audi with the letters RS in front of it is sure to warm the cockles of your heart. Audi Sport sold 1250 RS branded vehicles in 2018, including the often-overlooked supercar, the R8. That’s a 32 per cent increase over 2017, in fact Audi Sport in Australia is ranked sixth globally in terms of sales. Now a new RS variant has arrived, the RS 5 Sportback. This comes of the back of the new S5 and RS 5 Coupe last year. Chris Bowen attended the Australian launch.
What is it?
The wheelbase is an extra 59mm as is the overall length, so you could say this is the family RS 5. It has three seats in the rear as opposed to two in coupe. The S and RS family inject a serious dose of performance into what is otherwise an everyday Audi model.
The Sportback which is increasingly becoming a popular body shape sometimes works while also occasionally missing the mark. I wasn’t exactly enamored with the A7 Sportback, but I’m pretty happy overall with this particular design.
It has big brakes, a thumping twin-turbo V6 and far more sophisticated sports suspension. Being the first ever RS 5 Sportback it has plenty to live up to.
Behind the Wheel
There’s little doubt once again Audi has produced yet another stellar performance model. The car is delightfully flighty when called upon but a comfortable country road cruiser when you’re away from the boardroom.
The first thing that struck me was the interior, the last couple of Audi’s I’d driven featured the next generation digital age extravaganza found in the A8 and A7 Sportback. But while the new cabins are yet another massive leap forward, I was at the same time reminded of what a masterclass space Audi still offers.
As far as craftmanship goes very few brands can claim a win over Audi, so there’s no concerns from me here at all.
The peak power and torque figures are impressive but it’s the way the quattro system deliverers it to Terra Firma. Sure footed, massive levels of grip are of course aided by a range of magical electronic software and hardware. But despite feeling like you’re kind of cheating it does make for a red-hot drive should the mood take you, it allows you to bat above you average as a driver essentially.
Which is where some of the purists out there start to get a bee in their bonnet. Is it too artificial, too clinical or lacking engagement? Well yes, if that’s where you stand. I prefer to appreciate the sheer German excellence that has gone into creating such a brutal yet livable and controllable machine.
It leaves many for dead at the lights, corners like a tilt train and stops like you’ve chucked an oil tanker anchor out the rear.
The 2.9 twin-turbo petrol V6 produces 331kW/600Nm via a seven-speed tiptronic transmission. The quattro system usually splits the power 60:40 between the front and rear, but when things get wild up to 80 per cent of the drive can be redirected to the rear.
The Sportback rear end with its hatch-style door allows for 480-litres of space or 1,300-litres of IKEA flatpacks with the rear seats down. That’s 14-litres more than the coupe.
The RS 5 has the endless list of safety tech found on the A5 and S5, but now a Head Up Display comes as standard. To score the best headlights in the business you need to upgrade to the Audi Matrix lights at $1,900.
Apple CarPlay comes as standard, as does DAB+ radio. There is a myriad of clever little touches such as the above average voice recognition software to the reminder that you have left your phone behind when you get out.
The Audi Virtual Cockpit is front and centre as standard and still sets the benchmark for instrument clusters in my mind. The centre infotainment screen is operated via a rotary dial and surround buttons, lacking the whiz-bang haptic touchscreen feedback offered in the aforementioned new generation Audi’s.
Prices kick off from $157,700. But things quickly escalate, take for example our test car which featured inlays in carbon (RS specific design) for $1,000, Audi Matrix LED headlights including LED daytime running lights, dynamic front and rear indicators, all-weather lights, and motorway light function that includes RS specific darkened trim elements for $1,900.
A carbon and black styling package costs $10,900 adding a front spoiler, sill extension inserts, rear spoiler, rear diffuser insert and exterior mirror housings in carbon, radiator grille trim frame, trim strips on the side windows and horizontal bar in the rear diffuser insert, in gloss black that thrown in the front quattro logo in matte titanium finish. Bringing the total price to an eye watering $171,500.
There a three rim options with a set of 20″ alloy wheels in 5-arm peak design with matte titanium look and a gloss milled finish being the highlight at $4,500.
Why Would You Buy One?
Because the 260kW $105,800 S5 simply doesn’t cut the mustard! Plus, you like the whole Sportback thing going on.
Audi has added another RS member to the family, which is great because it’s been some time since we’ve seen a new RS 4 for example. It has the fineness, performance and typical Audi luxury to fit right in avoiding being a black sheep in an intimidating line-up. It’s an 8.9 out of 10 for me.