Car reviews - Audi - A5 - Coupe
Superb engine, outstanding automatic, incisive steering, calm yet controlled ride quality, agile and grippy handling, surprisingly roomy cabin
Room for improvement
Handling could be more adjustable, interior needs greater differentiation, some options should be standard, RS4 Avant is more practical
It drops the V8, but the Audi RS5 Coupe is more of a bright spark than before
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16 Jul 2018
COLOUR selection of a new vehicle can often say a lot about someone, and the palette available in the new Audi RS5 Coupe certainly gives away the odd hint about its own character and personality.
Previously a brawny, lead-tipped arrow with a 4.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine shouting gorgeous sonics from below its weighty nose, this new, second-generation coupe takes a couple of cylinders away, managing a trimmer figure and offering greater luxury and technology options.
This 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6-powered, all-wheel-drive coupe flicks the former seven-speed dual-clutch transmission design for an eight-speed torque converter automatic set-up, the design of which members of the Volkswagen Group have long believed is a less-sporty option.
The RS5 Coupe is available in a regal dark green or the inky-purple-blue of this test car, with a choice of black or grey-white leather inside. It could be the choices of a fast grand tourer (GT) like the Bentley Continental GT more than a typical RennSport-badged model. So, has Audi gone soft?
Price and equipment
Priced from $156,600 plus on-road costs, the RS5 Coupe cannot match the supremely affordable positioning of a $139,900 BMW M4 Pure, though with 20-inch alloy wheels and premium leather, it more closely matches the $156,710 M4 Competition and $163,611 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe.
Underneath and in terms of safety, it further includes adaptive suspension, LED headlights with automatic up/down high-beam, sequential rear indicators, 360-degree surround-view display with front and rear parking sensors plus auto reverse-park assistance, blind-spot and rear-cross traffic alerts, active lane-keep assistance, adaptive cruise control, and all-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
Inside, Audi includes keyless auto-entry with push-button start, a panoramic sunroof, Nappa leather trim, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, tri-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch centre screen and 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit driver screen, digital radio, satellite navigation, voice control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, plus 19-speaker, 755-watt Bang and Olufsen audio.
However, a head-up display and auto-adaptive high-beam (standard on M4 Competition and C63 S) plus wireless phone charging forms part of a $3900 Technik Package. An Alcantara steering wheel forms part of a $3300 RS design package, though matte-silver or black exterior trim are no-cost.
Teamed with an intuitive Audi Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system that allows effortless selection of digital radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and nav, even via flawless one-shot voice control, and the RS5 Coupe could indeed be considered a luxury GT more than an aggressive two-door sports coupe.
Add a sizeable 465-litre boot volume, and complaints are few. Of course, this Audi is not as practical as its RS4 Avant sibling, which can also seat five versus four here. But, then, there is only so much to be done with a medium-sized, low-slung sportscar as opposed to a taller family wagon.
Perhaps the most sizeable complaint concerns optional equipment and the lack of significant differentiation compared with other A5 Coupes and rivals.
Engine and transmission
No longer can an RS5 Coupe develop 331kW of power at a spine-tingling 8250rpm, but this new 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 can deliver that exact amount between 5700rpm and 6700rpm.
On light throttle, the new eight-speed automatic shifts with immaculate fluency and smoothness, ensuring that only dull and creamy notes emerge from under the bonnet. For driveability, yet immediacy of response, this Audi is miles ahead of its BMW M and Mercedes-AMG rivals.
Foot flat, and perhaps the most stunning aspect is the immediacy with which this auto comes to life, sometimes brutally slamming home an upshift or downshift in order to maximise response and overall performance.
The RS5 feels at least as quick as its 3.9 second zero to 100km/h claim, but perhaps the real surprise was fuel efficiency. Around town, with an average speed of 33km/h, it returned just 11.7 litres per 100 kilometres. Freeway and winding country roads helped lower this to 10.7L/100km overall, barely higher than its 8.8L/100km combined-cycle fuel consumption claim.
Ride and handling
Leave the RS5 Coupe in its suspension’s middle Auto mode and beautiful ride quality will combine with terrific cornering performance. Comfort is a tad squidgy, while Dynamic should be reserved for a racetrack, but thankfully there is also an Individual mode to place the steering in the former mode, while keeping engine and sport differential in the latter mode and dampers in the middle.
With this mix-and-match selection, this Audi delivers a staggeringly broad character that ranges from quiet cruiser to cornering menace. The steering is light yet incisive, the lighter kerb weight (1655kg versus 1790kg in the previous generation) is most evident in the way the front-end slips eagerly through tight bends, and the flawless transmission downshifts hard under brakes even when left to its own devices in auto (but Dynamic) mode.
On smooth roads it does not feel as superbly balanced as an M4, and nor is it as lairy as a C63 S of course.
Of course the upside is that this coupe is far less snappy and bouncy than the BMW M over poor surfaces, while feeling less blunt and brutish than the Mercedes-AMG. The only other downside is that the Audi RS does not feature the tingly sense of driver connection delivered by the latter rival.
Safety and servicing
Six airbags (including dual front, front-side and full-length curtain protection), ABS and three-mode ESC, forward and rear collision warnings with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), active lane-keep assistance, blind-spot assistance with pedestrian/cyclist detection, parking sensors and a 360-degree surround-view display are included in the RS5.
Euro NCAP tested the Audi A5 in 2015 and it scored five stars with 34.00 out of 38 points.
Audi does not include a capped-price servicing program for its RS models.
Sometimes an ‘all-rounder’ can be accused of lacking character and failing to hit great heights in any specific area. That could be the case with the new RS5 Coupe, though not quite. The epic performance of this new engine stands tall among the best in the segment, no question at all.
The lighter chassis, lovely steering, poised suspension and Quattro surety combine to extract the best from such turn of speed, so although the result is not the delicate balance (on smooth roads) found in an M4 nor the driver connection of a C63 S, this Audi is not necessarily worse for it.
That it whips such competitive performance and dynamics with its own more subtle, luxurious, drivable and comfortable character does not make this the boring option – but rather one with a personality that extends far and wide, essentially giving buyers more for their money.
One of the hardest calls might be whether the cling to the sleek two-door bodystyle or go for the iconic, just launched RS4 Avant with the same mechanicals underneath. In any case, this RS5 Coupe really shows its true colours – this inky-purple-blue two-door is both GT and sportscar.
BMW M4 Competition from $156,710 plus on-road costs
Superb on a racetrack, but lack of communication, knife-edge handling and boosty engine hurt the ultimately likeable BMW M4 Competition.
Mercedes-AMG C63 S from $163,611 plus on-road costs
Nearly the exact opposite to the above rival with an epic soundtrack and superb driver communication, but thirsty turbocharged V8.
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