The new Audi RS5 five-door Sportback is now available for order in Europe, and I was invited to Munich for a test run earlier. The trend of ‘evolution’ from large-displacement naturally aspirated engines to smaller displacement and turbocharged engines continues to spread, with even supercars introducing turbocharged engines, and Audi being one of the ‘protégés’ of VAG, it was only a matter of time before the top-end sports cars were turbocharged. However, as the exhaust specification became more restrictive, smaller cc’s and turbocharging became the future, if not the present, of the car manufacturers’ plans and guidelines.
No change in horsepower, better handling
Many Audi fans will welcome the arrival of the RS5 Sportback 5-door. Both the spaciousness and the new 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo engine, which is identical to that of the RS5 Coupe, put the car’s demands directly into the new RS5 Sportback. With the 8-speed Tiptronic transmission and all-wheel drive, the RS5 Sportback can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds, faster than the 4.6 seconds of its predecessor, and can reach a top speed of 250km/h. Official figures show that the RS5 Sportback’s combined fuel consumption is as low as 9.1l/100km, which is better than the 10.61l/100km of the RS5 Coupe with its 4.2-litre V8 engine. This is better than the 10.61 l/100km of the previous generation RS5 Coupe with the 4.2 litre V8 engine. The RS5 Sportback can increase power to a maximum of 75 per cent at the front wheels or 85 per cent at the rear wheels, depending on the conditions, giving the car excellent driving stability in all situations and allowing the driver to ‘play’ with more pleasure and safety. In Dynamic mode, the exhaust note becomes more aggressive and the shocks more rigid, while the system and its RS sports suspension are the same basic package. Although I have tested the entry-level A5 before, the whole driving experience and atmosphere is different, or ‘proportionally the same’, but with the RS engine, even with its reduced capacity, it does not lose its aggressive character.
Sassy with a touch of wildness
If you like the RS5, but have parents who hate two doors, you may not choose the two-door version out of filial piety. The interior of the RS 5 is not overly performance orientated at the expense of comfort, with multi-angle front RS seats, electronic controls to adjust the lumbar support on both sides to the right level of tension and, most notably, a massage function for both the driver and passenger front seats. The only problem I encountered was that the screen on the centre console was obscured when either party was adjusting it, especially when I had to take a detour back to the meeting point because I had to press the massage function twice when driving in Germany, where I was not familiar with the roads. The familiar Audi multifunction steering wheel is not covered in Alcantara, but in perforated leather, further enhancing the interior’s sporty ambience. Maps, speed, driving data, entertainment information and much more.
I have tested many Audi sports cars in the past, including the SQ5, RS3, R8 V10+, TTS and many others, but on this trip to Germany, the RS5 no longer felt ‘light and airy’ or ‘unmanageable’. Even with the 20-inch wheels, the quattro’s four-wheel drive system works instantly and grips the power output from the engine. Although the drive select is adjustable for Comfort, the 450hp output is still unmistakable when you “floor it”, except for the surging sound of the tailpipe in Dynamic mode. You can feel the RS at its best. The transmission has clearly improved from the previous seven-speed S-Tronic transmission to the current eight-speed Tiptronic, and there was no unnatural shift-lag in any of the driving modes throughout the test. There is no need to wait for the gears to engage after pressing the shift-lag. Even if the driver does not intervene manually, the gearbox computer is sufficient to cope with everyday light or aggressive driving styles.