The M4 and C63 have been the reigning champs in recent years because Audi seems to rock up to the bar brawl rather late. Now though, its latest contender, the RS5, features a new look and most importantly, a turbocharged engine.
When it comes to the looks, the RS5 is a more aggressive looking version of the new A5 and S5, which is great because those cars are gorgeous. The RS5 features a menacing front-end full of grooves and air vents to cool the brakes and engine under that sculptured bonnet.
The car also has wider wheel arches, large, sporty rims and a silhouette that is as head-turning as it is jaw-dropping. At the rear, Audi has retained its large oval tailpipes, however, the retractable rear spoiler has fallen by the wayside.
Inside, the car features the same layout as the S5 which includes a meticulously laid out dashboard and quality materials. The sense of space has also been improved on these new models due to the design emphasis of the dashboard being more horizontally focused.
The only thing I don’t like is the infotainment screen which looks like a cheap iPad copy. It’s not as thin as those found on the competitors and features a silly silver plastic surround.
That, however, is my only issue with the interior of this car. I really like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit Display which is a digital instrument cluster capable of displaying all the navigation, media and trip information alongside a massive digital rev counter.
Approach the now 6500rpm limit and shift lights flash indicating that it’s time to change. Miss a shift and the sound behind you is very similar to machine gun fire.
What makes this sound? Well, apparently there is a replacement for displacement and it’s called a turbocharger. Audi chose to fit the new RS5 with a 2.9-litre V6 co-developed with Porsche. They added some of their bits and the result is, well 331kW which is the same as the old V8.
I can tell that you are puzzled, don’t worry though because this new car develops 600Nm, a massive 170Nm more than the old car. It is also a whole lot lighter than before which means it is more capable and most importantly, faster. Expect 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds as tested locally.
There is, however, a problem with the RS5 and it’s a big one. You see, the previous car was a white knuckle kind of machine. You had to grab it by the scruff of its neck and show it who’s boss. It was a rewarding achievement. This new car is so good,
so refined and so numbingly fast that it comes across as too refined.
The RS5 feels more like a GT car than an all-out track machine. Even in Dynamic mode, the car returned a comfortable ride despite all four tyres being pumped to three bar. It’s also fairly quiet and unless you fiddle with the eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox, it won’t burble and pop. Even on a cold start, it remains neighbour friendly.
As for the drive, as I said it is refined, however, when you push it the car does reward with a bit of sideways action due to the fact that in Dynamic mode, the majority of its power is sent to the rear wheels. It’s all very controllable though thanks to the grip from the front.
The new RS5 looks every bit as menacing as one would expect, but it has lost its boy racer feel for a more refined gentlemanly approach. It does not shout about its presence or its performance undertones. It can be said that it feels more like a really fast S5.
Where does that leave us?
After considerable thought, I came to the realisation that the new RS5 slots into the middle of both the M4 and AMG C63 S coupe. The M4 is a wild thing that scares children and old people and takes pleasure in doing so. The AMG is a brutal machine that looks and sounds dangerous but thanks to that big lump under the bonnet, is able to get you from point A to point B just that much faster.
The RS5, well it has incorporated the nimbleness of the BMW and the grand tourer elements from the AMG and combined them into one very attractive package. Despite its lack of drama, the RS5 is now able to step out of their shadows and if parked alongside them at the lights, will leave them wanting in most scenarios.