The Audi RS5 uses a twin-turbo V6 engine and Quattro four-wheel drive to make it as fast across country as some supercars, but it isn’t quite as involving as the best alternatives
The Audi RS5 is the pinnacle of the A5 range – a very high-performance flagship model that is an alternative to the likes of the BMW M4 or Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
Mind you, from the outside, the changes that convert the regular A5 into the fire-breathing RS5 aren’t immediately obvious. Just as the A5 makes a virtue out of its understated elegance, so the extra bodykit and badges are pretty subtle.
It’s the same story inside, as the RS5’s cabin looks almost indistinguishable from the standard car’s interior. You get swathes of familiar plush leather and soft-touch plastics, but only a few small RS badges and a flat-bottomed steering wheel hint that this £63,000 super coupe is anything other than a 2.0-litre diesel A5.
However, there is one way that the RS5 scores over more humble A5s: you get Audi’s terrific Virtual Cockpit display as standard, which gives the cabin a real high-tech, high-class feel. This 12-inch unit replaces conventional analogue dials with a customisable high-resolution digital display. It looks fantastically sharp and can even display directions from the standard sat-nav combined with gorgeous Google Earth imagery.
All these features are controlled through a scroll wheel and button arrangement on the RS5’s centre console. It’s more intuitive than the setup you get in a Mercedes-AMG C63, but not quite as easy to use as the iDrive system in a BMW M4.
Another slight mark against the Audi RS5 is that, if you’re tall, you’ll want its heavily bolstered sports seats to have an extra inch of height adjustment to help you get comfy. On the other hand, you do get adjustable lumbar support as standard, and the seats slide forward automatically to help your passengers jump into the back.
Squeeze into the rear seats and you’ll find a decent amount of leg and headroom – certainly more than you might expect from a coupe as sleek as this. And, only if you’re more than six feet tall will you find your head brushing the roof.
Better still, the RS5’s boot can carry the same 465 litres of luggage as the standard A5. It’s bigger and easier to load than the boots in the BMW M4 and Mercedes C63 AMG and the back seats fold in a three-way (40:20:40) split, so you can carry long luggage and two rear passengers at once.
You expect cars this fast to force you to make some sort of compromise, but the RS5 could hardly be any easier to drive very quickly – and all the time you’ll be in a wonderfully luxurious cabin. It’s a great all-rounder.
Of course, the big difference between the Audi RS5 and more mainstream versions of the car is the engine. Its twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 engine drives all four wheels through a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox and its 450hp will rocket the car from 0-62mph in a supercar-like 3.9 seconds. Yet, it’s also capable of returning an impressive (for such a powerful car) 30mpg in real-world driving.
Putting fuel economy aside – as most RS5 drivers will – the car is searingly quick in a straight line and takes twisty roads in its stride. It doesn’t feel quite as sharp as a BMW M4 or Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, but it’ll still put a big smile on your face – especially if you set the Drive Select Controller into its most sporty setting. You’ll feel a slight delay after stamping on the accelerator before the big RS5 lunges forward but it’s easy to forget about this minuscule hesitation once its 2.9-litre V6 starts doing its thing.
The four-wheel drive system gives tremendous traction, too, so the Audi RS5 is quick across country, whatever the weather. Then, when you’re done having fun on an empty back road, the RS5 settles down into a quiet, comfortable cruise. It does such a good job of masking bumps in the road you might think you’re sitting in a standard A5 – especially if you pay £2,000 extra for the upgraded adaptive suspension.
All in all, The Audi RS5 is an incredibly accomplished coupe that’s staggeringly fast and impressively easy to drive, but it can’t match the outright excitement provided by the thrill-a-minute BMW M4 and raucous Mercedes C63 AMG.