Car reviews - Audi - A5 - RS5 Coupe
Power and sound of savage V8 engine, quick-thinking dual-clutch transmission, massive grip and traction, improved fun factor over original, relatively subtle looks
Room for improvement
Optional bucket seats delete side airbags and make access difficult
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9 Jul 2015
Price and equipment
WHEN Audi released the revised RS5 it also slashed the price by $13,990, to $161,400 pluson-road costs, bringing it closer to the cost of its main mega-coupe rivals – the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.
In addition to styling tweaks that brought the flagship RS5 into line with the rest of the facelifted A5 range, Audi fitted a more fuel-efficient electromechanical power steering system, fettled the standard seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission and added new forged 19-inch alloy wheels.
The interior gained a race-style flat-bottomed steering wheel, an improved infotainment and sat-nav unit and inherited the facelifted A5's redesigned switchgear.
Standard equipment includes keyless entry and start, automatic adaptive Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and automatic high-beam, three-zone climate-control, cruise control, carbon-fibre interior trim, automatic wipers, sports seats, Fine Nappa premium leather upholstery, a 10-speaker sound system with subwoofer, Bluetooth streaming, DVD player, seven-inch display and sat-nav.
Our test car was kitted out with the $4990 Dynamic Sports package comprising adaptive sports suspension, a sports exhaust and 20-inch alloys – and the $2400 Dynamic variable ratio steering was also fitted.
Also fitted were the $1050 black exterior package that replaces some of the chrome trim and heated race-style bucket seats ($6300) that delete the front side airbags and electric adjustment but come with adjustable bolsters.
LIKE any Audi, the RS5 is a pleasant place to spend time and has a high-quality, classy interior feel.
While we are in no doubt about the peerless levels of lateral support provided by the $6300 bucket seats fitted to our test car, a few painful scrapes to sensitive areas when climbing over the sharp edges of their substantial adjustable leg bolsters when getting in and out of the car sometimes had us concerned for our fertility.
The fact these seats also come without the side airbags fitted to the standard items was less than confidence-inspiring, although the curtain airbags are retained.
We also found these seats robbed rear passengers of legroom, if they could figure out how to get past them and into the rear seat in the first place.
Otherwise we had few complaints about the interior, its plush leather upholstery and moody dark colour scheme setting the scene for some serious tyre toasting.
Engine and transmission
ENGINES like the towering 331kW/430Nm unit fitted to the RS5 make us lament the fact naturally aspirated V8s are a dying breed.
This high-revving beauty of an engine provides an instant, relentless, savage turn of speed backed up by a manic, madcap soundtrack, especially in Dynamic mode with the sports exhaust turned up to 11.
There really are few experiences quite like it without getting dressed in leather and jumping on a motorcycle – and things are set to get even crazier with a convertible RS5 on the horizon.
BMW achieves similar high-revving thrills with the M3 but without such a sonorous soundtrack and less of the RS5s savagery of acceleration.
But we retain a soft spot for the bigger V8 of the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG that charms with a sound reminiscent of an old-school Detroit iron hot-rod, with a massive slab of torque to complete the picture.
The RS5's fettled transmission shaves a tenth of a second from the 0-100km/h sprint time, down to a C63-matching 4.5 seconds, with all-wheel drive traction making up for its torque deficit over the AMG.
Firing up the launch control on a quiet stretch of straight road we were left in no doubt as to Audi's claims, and there is a feel of limitless thrust available anywhere in the rev-range for mid-range point-and-squirt acceleration on demand.
As promised, the S-tronic transmission is lightning quick, especially in Sport mode, and always ready to take orders from the driver via the paddle-shifters.
The way the RS5 encouraged us to drive meant we never saw the official 10.5 litres per 100 kilometres (down 0.3L/100km compared with pre-facelift) but an average in the low 12s was not bad considering the performance on tap.
Ride and handling
ANECDOTES from other motoring publications prove we are not alone in thinking this RS5 is more fun than the one it replaces.
The old one felt a bit too competent, a bit too detached and would shrug off hard cornering with an aloof indifference that left the keen driver frustrated and begging for less grip, less traction and more interaction – especially when trying to have fun at legal speeds on a challenging stretch of public road.
They probably went and traded the Audi in for an M3 or C63.
When Audi announced it was switching to electromechanical power steering many thought it was game over for the RS5 as these systems are not known for their tactility.
But this time, there seems to be more going on for the driver. Yes the RS5 can still power through bends with full-throttle abandon but there is better feedback when setting the car up to take a turn. It can be felt squirming slightly under hard braking, the steering – at least the optional Dynamic steering fitted to our test car – lets the driver know just how much grip the front tyres have when turning in and the car just seems to respond more sharply and agreeably to driver inputs.
This all translated into a more interactive experience during quick changes of direction and when coaxing the RS5 to wag its tail as it exits a bend.
We are sure this is all helped along beautifully by the optional adaptive suspension fitted to our test car as not once did we have to think about body-roll – and of course the figure-hugging optional seats meant we were clamped well in our place.
The thin cushioning of those seats did uncover a jiggliness in the RS5's ride that was probably amplified by the larger 20-inch alloys it was wearing and while the Dynamic suspension setting was pretty intolerable around town the Comfort setting was just about acceptable for this type of car.
We can't help but feel, however, that Audi has managed to make the RS4 Avant – essentially a wagon version of the RS5 – ride even better.
Safety and servicing
CRASH-TEST authority ANCAP has not rated RS5 or the A5 on which it is based, but both share much with the A4 that achieved five stars.
As expected from a car of this calibre there is an alphabet soup of standard electronic safety acronyms plus six airbags (four in our car due to the optional bucket seats). The RS5 is covered by a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and servicing is every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.
IF YOU had not already gathered, we liked the facelifted RS5. It may not offer as much of a visceral experience as the rear-drive M3 or CL63 but it makes up for it in other ways, like the sheer drama of that engine.
Something else we like about the RS5 is its restrained styling compared with the M3, which has become a bit of a tart in recent years with its bonnet bulge and extra vents, and the pumped-up CL63 that is in danger of becoming ubiquitous on Australian roads.
For us that makes it the thinking man's luxury muscle car. And you can throw all the electronic nannies in the world at a car but none can beat the wet weather confidence of all-wheel-drive, which makes the RS5 a car we would happily take to carve up the hills during a downpour.
But when all is said and done, we would go for the less expensive, more practical RS4 Avant, which offers all the RS5's good points but adds a better ride, a roomier interior and even stealthier looks.
1. Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG coupe, $157,900 plus on-roads, Gruff and growly old-school muscle-car soundtrack, shedloads of torque and commendable dynamics for what could be considered a bit of a blunt instrument – and a relative bargain, too.
2. BMW M3, $162,400 (with optional dual-clutch automatic) plus on-roads, If the C63 is a blunt instrument the M3 is a scalpel. The driver needs to work the gearbox to keep the peaky engine in its sweet spot but it remains the car of choice for those regularly hitting the race track.
MAKE/MODEL: Audi RS5 Coupe
, ENGINE: 4163cc V8 DOHC petrol
, LAYOUT: AWD, longitudinal
, POWER: 331kW @ 6000rpm
, TORQUE: 430Nm @ 4200rpm
, TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
, 0-100km: 4.5s
, TOP SPEED: 250km/h
, FUEL: 10.5L/100km
, CO2: 246g/km
, L/W/H/W’BASE: 4649/1860/1366/2751mm
, WEIGHT: 1715kg
, SUSPENSION f/r: Five-link wishbone/trapezoidal-link independent
, STEERING: Electromechanical rack and pinion
, BRAKES f/r: Discs/discs
, PRICE: $161,400 plus on-roads
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