Audi gives its two-door GT cruiser the RS5 Coupe treatment with scintillating results.
By Ghaith Madadha
Built to the same basic formidable four-wheel-drive formula as the original Quattro, the new RS5 Coupe competes with similar rear-drive based rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. More so, it now adopts a downsized turbocharged engine in place of its immediate RS5 predecessor’s naturally aspirated V8.
It is built on a lighter platform than its predecessor, and with lighter engine and more sophisticated five-link suspension. The RS5 Coupe is the most agile Audi using the signature Quattro four-wheel-drive system with the engine just ahead of the front axle. It shares the regular A5 Coupe’s sleek, swept design, browed headlights, large snouty grille and fastback-like thick sloping rear pillars and short boot as its silhouette is reminiscent of the 1980-91 Quattro.
Also RS5-specific are more pronounced side skirts and rear air diffuser, sharper and lower front lip, big oval tailpipes, bigger intakes and ridged bonnet. Behind its honey-comb grille, the RS5’s low-mounted twin-turbo direct injection 2.9-liter V6 engine develops 444 BHP at 5700-6700 rpm and big juicy 442 lb/ft torrent of torque throughout a wide and versatile 1900-5000 rpm mid-range. Driving all wheels through a finger-snap quick and slick shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox the RS5 bolts from standstill with tenacious claw-like traction, to100km/h in just 3.9 seconds.
The new RS5 is as powerful as ever. It may not rev as high as the outgoing naturally aspirated model’s high strung 8250 rpm, but it gains more torque over a broader more accessible range. Optionally de-restricted, the 1655kg RS5 is capable of 280km/h, yet returns low 8.7l/100km combined cycle fuel consumption. Furthermore, its personality can be configured through individually adjustable driving modes.
Far too well controlled and reassuring even at the edge of its limits, the RS5’s driving modes can’t be described as inducing a Jeckyl and Hyde transformation. However, it drives with unexpected docility and ease when its engine, gearbox, exhaust and steering are in ‘comfort’ mode. When switching to ‘dynamic’ modes, the RS5 adopts more forcefully succinct gear changes, sharper throttle, meatier steering and muscularly snarling and wailing acoustics. For more driver involvement steering-mounted paddle shifters allow for manual mode gear shifting.
An accessible, user-friendly and safe daily drive high performance coupe, the RS5 is maneuverable in town, stable at speed and committed through corners and in the wet. Its dynamic repertoire extends beyond just unimpeachable road-holding through corners. Meanwhile, ventilated, perforated brakes proved resiliently capable.
The RS5 also features precise and well-weighted steering. It is however best when pushed to the edge of high dynamic performance and road-holding abilities. Rear-biased, its Quattro four-wheel-drive reallocates power between front and rear for resolute traction and grip. With optional rear sports differential, power is also redistributed along the rear axle to put it down where most effective, and for added agility. Meanwhile, lateral body movement is well controlled through corners.
The RS5’s fixed rate suspension is settled on vertical rebound. Meanwhile inside, it is refined and features comfortable and supportive quilted leather seats, chunky sports steering wheel, well-adjustable driving position and good visibility for an involved, alert and ergonomic driving experience. It is a more luxurious car than the original Quattro and its extensive standard and optional equipment include high-tech infotainment, convenience, driver assistance and safety features. Rear seats are usably accommodating and cargo volume generous and well proportioned.
Engine: 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged, V6-cylinders
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 444 (450)  @5700-6700 rpm
Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 442.5 (600) @1900-5000 rpm
0-100km/h: 3.9 seconds
Top speed: 280km/h (optional de-restriction)
Fuel consumption: 8.7 liters/100km
Length: 4723 mm
Width: 1861 mm
Height: 1360 mm
Suspension: Five-link, anti-roll bars
Brakes: Ventilated, perforated discs