When it comes to Audi, the mere mention of ‘RS’ immediately has my attention. Two semi-insignificant letters, that when joined together with a four-ring logo take on a life of their own. Audi NZ asked if I’d be keen to try out their RS 5 Sportback, naturally, I gratefully accepted.
As most of you are probably aware, Audi Sport is the performance arm of the brand. It’s been separated and elevated, exalted even, from the ‘regular’ brand as it embraces its racing heritage and in turn gives customers a clear understanding of its intent. On the track, Audi Sport encompasses Motorsport and Customer Racing, while possibly a little closer to your driveway, it welcomes S and of course, RS – my RS.
The Audi RS 5 first landed in 2013. Created to outperform the S5, the RS was a 4.2L V8 powered (331kW) that flew off the line and up to 100km/h in around 4.5 seconds, had a more aggressive stance and a very angry voice. Funnily enough, despite the new RS moving to a V6 I had no doubt that it would be better, I wasn’t wrong.
The 2.9L V6 has been sweetly tuned to near perfection and two turbos have been added. Boasting the same horsepower or kilowatts as the previous V8 and a massive 600Nm of torque, it’ll shift this spacious Sportback to 100km/h in a published 3.9 seconds, or even faster (I’ll get to that in a moment). However, these figures tell just part of the story.
Nestled tightly to the powerful V6 is an 8-speed automatic tiptronic transmission that sends all the above numbers to each of its 20-inch feet via Audi’s legendary quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system, to finally and gloriously sing out of the two oval tailpipes of its sports exhaust.
My RS 5 Sportback came clothed in Nardo Gray, it’s a standout colour that contrasts the red RS badging. Up front, it has a wide and flat single-frame Audi grill, Audi matrix LED lights, huge air intakes with an RS-specific honeycomb structure and the front spoiler with that has quattro on display. There’s an attractive flow to its profile with a tapering roof that joins its strong shoulder line somewhere around muscular haunches and the sportback tailgate. At the rear, lies an RS-specific diffuser insert, the previously mentioned RS exhaust system with oval tailpipes and all topped off with a carbon fibre spoiler lip.
Don’t think that this is an all-out sports car without any real-world practicality though. 4-door entry with room inside for five to sit in comfort (especially those up front as my RS had a massage seat function) and enough room for five golf clubs (if that’s what you’re into) in the luggage department – around 990litres. The cabin is bathed in Nappa leather and Alcantara. My model’s supportive sports seats had the (optional) honeycomb quilting and a grippy ‘flattened’ RS multi-functional sport leather steering wheel to match the car’s handling. The personalisable Virtual cockpit gives you digital displays of all the information YOU require and Bang and Olufsen provide the sounds.
Aside from merging the RS 5 into my family life for the weekend, there’s a certain stretch of tarmac that offers a whole heap of driving variety (from long desolate straights to tight off-camber corners and most other things in between), I set a course there immediately.
The RS 5 looks fast, feels fast and make no mistake, is fast. A push on the go-faster pedal in ‘Dynamic’ mode, takes you into licence-losing territory in less time than it took you to read this sentence. I have a semi-crude (but GPS connected) 0-100 timer app and it informed me that it only takes 3.3 seconds for this Audi to get there. The sound, the grip, the handling and thankfully, the stopping are all designed to thrill and boy do they what. I spent more than my fair share of time ‘exploring’ the same stretch of tarmac, discovering all the joys that the RS 5 had to offer and never once got bored – why would I.
Having the RS 5 for the weekend was quite the experience but left me wanting more. Sure, Audi has a cabinet full of electronic wizardry, but despite the RS 5 comes with plenty of tech (safety and driver’s aids) it’s not too much, you still get to ‘drive’ this car, without noticeable intrusion. Audi says that with the RS 5 Sportback ‘you have a spacious everyday vehicle and a real sports car’ and it very much sums it up. It can be placid and luxurious yet when you switch to dynamic and sports and stamp on the accelerator be prepared to hang on tight.
Handsomely designed, roomy and quick, did I mention that it’s quick? Plus, with honeycomb accents inside and out, I can tell you right now, the RS 5 had me well and truly buzzed.