Audi’s supercoupe, the RS5, has had a midlife nip-tuck, as has the rest of the A5 range. You’d be forgiven for not realising though, because it is a subtle as it gets.
Tested here in 5-door Sportback guise, the external changes essentially comprise a flatter, wider trapezoidal grille, a trio of cosmetic “slots” (or “implied air vents” as Audi calls them) above the grille, reminiscent of the (actual) trio of vents on the Audi Sport Quattro of 1983, and reshaped side air inlets. At the side there are new sill trims, and there are subtly reshaped front and rear bumpers.
Opt for the sport exhaust ($5,898), and the tailpipe finisher will be a single black, oval tailpipe on each side, instead of a pair of chrome coloured ones. For the full gangsta aesthetic, all external chrome trim can optionally be had in gloss black.
Inside, Nappa leather (with a distinctive honeycomb pattern) is now standard, as is the top-spec MMI Navigation/infotainment system with a larger 10.1-inch central touchscreen.
Also standard, of course, is Audi’s “virtual cockpit” configurable dashboard display featuring an “RS monitor” which can relay tyre pressure, torque, horsepower, oil temperature and boost pressure, apart from the usual speedo, rev counter and navigation.
Should you for some reason want to use your near-$400k Nappa leather-trimmed RS5 as a track hack, the RS monitor can show you your cornering g-forces, lap times and 0-100km/h drag times too.
AUDI RS5 SPORTBACK: INCISIVE PERFORMANCE
Actually the RS5 would do pretty well around a track. It may weigh close to 1.8 tonnes, but it changes direction keenly although it is not quite as crisply incisive as something like a BMW M2 Competition or Mercedes-AMG CLA45.
Body roll is stoutly resisted and grip is near-relentless, as we have long come to expect of Audi’s RS products. The steering is well-weighted and direct, although it could do with a bit more feedback. Being all-wheel-driven, every ounce of power works to hurtle the car forward without a smidgen of it vapourising into wasteful wheelspin.
The car can be made to adopt a slightly more playful attitude by redirecting more torque (up to 85%, instead of the default 60%) to the rear, and also (if the optional sport differential is fitted) by juggling torque between the two rear wheels to aid turn-in via torque-vectoring and to help blast the car through the bend and onto the next straight.
FIERCE YET CIVILISED
Indeed the RS5 is monumental on the straights. Its 2.9-litre twin-turbo’d V6 is, as always, a thing of wonder – ferociously strong yet bewitchingly mellifluous when extended.
Power and torque remain, as before, at 450bhp and 600Nm, which is ample – 100km/h comes up in just 3.9 seconds, and if you opt for the raised speed limiter, it will hit 280km/h given enough space.
The 8-speed automatic gearbox that marshals all the power and torque is a willing ally – slick on upshifts and down, if not quite as urgent-feeling as the best dual-clutchers. The steering-mounted aluminum paddleshifters have grown slightly, to ease their use in committed driving.
Yet the RS5 Sportback ably fulfils its other remit, as an ultra-luxe grand tourer. The cabin is spacious and loaded with kit as you would expect, and the ride on the fixed-rate dampers (adaptive dampers are an option) is remarkably compliant and well-judged given its cornering abilities, and despite the 20-inch rims.
That thumpingly strong yet velvety powerplant comes into its own at a high-speed cruise, ladling out effortless torque at a twitch of the toe, for imperious overtakes.
So, the RS5 Sportback is at it was – sharper-looking than before but still the crushingly capable gentleman’s hotrod that perfectly balances menace with civility.
Audi RS4 Avant 2.9 (A)
ENGINE 2984cc, 24-valves, V6, twin-turbocharged
MAX POWER 450bhp at 5700-6700rpm
MAX TORQUE 600Nm at 1900-5000rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT hp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 3.9 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h (governed)
CONSUMPTION 7.8km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE From $397,480 (after $20k VES surcharge)
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