Audi RS5 Sportback review
The Audi RS5 Sportback is a performance saloon that blends dashing coupe looks with four-door practicality. All-wheel-drive means it’s quick in wet weather, but alternatives are more exciting in the twisties
What's not so good
Find out more about the Audi RS5 Sportback
The Audi RS5 Sportback is a bit of a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too type of performance car.
You see, with its dramatically-sloping roofline it has the elegant coupe looks that you’d associate with the likes of the regular RS5. But because it has two extra doors and a good-sized boot you can actually use it to, you know, transport people. And things.
Okay, so outright it’s not as spacious or as practical as an RS4 Avant. But if you’re in the market for a performance saloon such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio or the new BMW M3 Competition, chances are you’ll also be considering an RS5 Sportback.
It might not be quite as pretty as the Alfa Romeo, but next to the buck-toothed new BMW M3 the older RS5 Sportback cuts a fine dash.
Viewed head-on, you’ll struggle to differentiate it from the regular RS5 coupe. Both cars get Audi’s massive trademark grille, which has been blacked out for this high-end performance model. A more aggressive bumper with larger air intakes has also been fitted, and if you go for our Carbon Black test model or the range-topping Vorsprung, its trim inserts are finished in black instead of the silver colour you get on the base car.
That pumped up body work continues down the side, and as standard the RS5’s swollen wheel arches are filled with 19-inch alloys. Again, Carbon Black and Vorsprung models change this up with a new 20-inch alloy design and – predictably – these are painted black on the former. Then there’s the two additional doors and sloping coupe-style roofline that give this particular RS5 its Sportback credentials.
Round the back there’s a subtle boot lid spoiler, some more aggressive-looking bumper work and a set of slim-line LED tail lights. And it wouldn’t be a bonafide RS model without a matching set of massive, oval-shaped exhaust pipes either.
You’ll want to check out the Audi RS5 Sportback if you fancy something very nearly as fast as the standard RS5 rocketship but occasionally need to carry rear-seat passengers
All up, the RS5 Sportback is a very handsome beast, but it isn’t quite as striking or as in-your-face as the BMW or the Alfa. But those who prefer a slightly more subtle, refined look for their performance saloon will definitely be well catered for here.
In true Audi fashion, the RS5 Sportback keeps things classy on the inside too. The design of the dash with the touchscreen infotainment system mounted on top does appear a bit dated, but the graphics look bang up to date and it all works very smoothly.
Material quality is pretty great, too; and your back seat passengers won’t feel short-changed for space. The boot is a good size, but the BMW M3 and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio both have more room back there than the Audi.
That said, it’s under the bonnet where you’ll find the RS5 Sportback’s main attraction. It’s powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine, which makes a meaty 450hp and 600Nm of torque. All of that muscle unsurprisingly makes the RS5 Sportback an exceptionally quick car in a straight line: nail the throttle from a standstill and you’ll hit 60mph in just 3.9sec.
Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive helps it stay quick when the weather doesn’t want to play ball, and ensures you’ve got a truckload of confidence-inspiring grip behind you on a twisty road.
It’s a pity that its handling isn’t as fun or energetic in these circumstances as the Alfa Romeo’s or the BMW’s, but it does help make up for this by being a surprisingly comfortable performance car around town and on the motorway.
So it’s not the most engaging performance saloon around, then. But if you want something that’s fast, comfortable, practical and impressively sure-footed even when it’s a bit slippery outside, then you could do a lot worse than the Audi RS5 Sportback.
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There’s good passenger space in the cabin, and a hatchback boot makes loading the RS5 Sportback an easy process. Outright bootspace lags behind some alternatives, however
With plenty of adjustability in the seat base and steering column the RS5’s driving position is pretty tough to fault. The chunky sports seats are plenty supportive too, and are more than up to the task of keeping you held in place on a twisty road. They’re also comfy over distance.
Any adults who find themselves sat in the second row won’t have too much to complain about either. There’s a good amount of legroom back here, and even with that sloping roofline headspace is still decent. If you’re particularly lofty you might find it a wee bit tight, but for most people the second row will be comfortable enough.
It’s unlikely that you’ll struggle for storage space for all of your odds and ends. The RS5 Sportback gets two good-sized cupholders up front, with door bins that should hold a regular-sized bottle of water without any trouble.
There’s a narrow slot on the centre console that’ll hold your wallet or phone, and the glove compartment is a good size too.
A hatchback-style tailgate and 465 litres of storage space means you won’t have any trouble loading your golf clubs into the boot, but both the BMW M3 and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio have more storage space than the Audi.
Still, the opening itself is nice and wide, and although there is a wee bit of a load lip to navigate it’s no big deal. You can fold the rear seats down flat for more storage space, and the floor remains completely flush with the seat backs when you do. So piling a set of skis in won’t be an issue at all.
The RS5 Sportback is devastatingly quick in a straight line, and has loads of traction on slippery roads. It’s not as engaging or as fun as the best sports saloons, though
The RS5 Sportback makes excellent use of its 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged petrol engine, which kicks out 450hp and 600Nm.
Admittedly, that might be 60hp less than you get in both the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and the BMW M3 Competition, but the RS5 Sportback is still blisteringly quick. The sprint from 0-60mph takes 3.9 seconds, and on a clear autobahn you’d nudge 174mph if you ordered your car in Vorsprung spec.
That V6 has a pretty mean-sounding edge to its soundtrack, but to be completely honest the Ferrari-derived V6 you’ll find in the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is way more exciting to listen to. There’s a bit of lag when you put your foot down, but once it gets going the RS5 Sportback hits exceptionally hard.
Audi says the RS5 is good for nearly 29mpg, but during our time with the car we saw figures in the low 20s and high teens.
There’s definitely a firm, sporty edge to the RS5 Sportback’s ride, but even so you can quite happily trundle around town in this performance saloon without any fear that you might shake your teeth loose over lumps and bumps. The view out the back is a bit tight, but a standard-fit rear-view camera takes the stress out of parking in tight spots.
It also makes for a comfortable motorway cruiser, even if there’s a bit of road noise to contend with. Unfortunately, however, you can’t get adaptive cruise control or lane-keep assist unless you go for the range-topping Vorsprung model. So if your budget can’t quite stretch that far you’ll have to make do with regular cruise control.
That said, Audi’s famous Quattro four-wheel-drive system means the RS5 Sportback is extremely quick and secure on a twisty road even when it’s wet. Accurate steering helps you place the car with plenty of confidence, but if it’s outright driving thrills you’re after then you’ll be better served by the Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio or the BMW M3 Competiton. The Audi just feels bit too serious and straight-laced next to those two rear-wheel-drive alternatives.
The Audi RS5 Sportback looks smart and feels plush on the inside, but newer alternatives such as the BMW M3 Competition are even more appealing
Audi RS5 Sportback colours
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.