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Motoring: Audi RS5 a whole lot of fun

Credit: Audi

The Audi RS5 is seriously fun to drive.

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | November 12th, 2012

Ask any Audi enthusiast and they will tell you that the two most important letters in their beloved brand's line-up are "R" and "S." They will also tell you that when these two letters are joined together, the end result will be extra special.

We have seen the results of what an RS vehicle is capable of in the past. Back in 2004, Audi offered a limited run of RS6 models in Canada, followed a few years later by the 2007/08 RS4. In 2012, there was the TT-RS, which was known to be a little monster.

For 2013, Audi is offering another special edition model, the RS5 coupe. Is the new car as mad and magnificent as its predecessors, or has the formula been watered down now?

From a styling point of view, it has the familiar pumped-up look of previous RS models, where they take the basic model's body and give it more pronounced bumpers, rocker panels, hips and tailpipes. The end result is quiet aggression; most will think it's just another Audi, while those who know will look and give you an approving nod.

Open the door of the RS5 and the interior will look very familiar to anyone who has been in an A5. It is the same size, has the same design, and has the same gadgets as you'll find in the more mainstream A5 models. But all is not the same. The RS5 gets its own special seats, and the steering wheel feels beefier and has its own unique touches. The differences might be very subtle, but they are there.

The biggest difference is found under the hood. The RS5 gets the same 4.2-litre, normally aspirated V8 you'd find in the back of an R8 supercar, but in the RS5, the engine has been pumped up a bit; instead of just 430 hp as in the R8, in the RS5 you get 450 hp at 8,250 rpm and 316 lb/ft of torque (which is available between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm).

As with most Audis, power is sent to all wheels via their clever "quattro" system, which feeds power to the wheels that can best make use of it.

The power makes its way from the engine to the drive wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. This gearbox is not only smooth, but ferociously quick in swapping cogs. You can pick between three speed settings for the gearbox, and each setting offers different shift speeds and smoothness, but even in the quickest setting, this transmission shifts so smoothly, you can be drinking coffee and not spill it.

In the Dynamic setting for the gearbox, the transmission downshifts as engine revs fall below 2,100 rpm, and the downshifts are accompanied by an automatic throttle blip. It is all a lot of fun. As I found out, this can also scare grannies walking on the sidewalk.

For serious fun, find yourself an open stretch of road and stretch its muscles. The RS5 is insanely quick. According to Audi, the RS5 can hit 100 km/h from a standstill in just 4.7 seconds (and it feels even quicker than that), and if you find yourself on a de-restricted road (good luck trying to find one of those in Canada), it will max out at 280 km/h. Actually, it is electronically limited to that speed; take the limiter off and you'd surely surpass that. However, 280 km/h is fast enough, and while I cannot give you a firsthand account of how this car feels at that speed, I did stretch its legs on a few occasions, and I was blown away by just how stable the RS5 is.

You also don't need to be going illegally fast to have some fun. Find a twisty bit of tarmac and it will impress you with its handling. Its electromechanical steering might not have the same feel as the older hydraulic based steering systems, but it is not bad at all. Even though the RS5 is supposed to be a bonkers thrill machine, its chassis and suspension setup encourages more understeer than sudden-snap oversteer. While this is a safer setup for most people, it does make it less thrilling to drive than cars like the R8, which have a definite rear-wheel bias.

The RS5 is a luxurious, high-performance coupe for the businessman/ woman who likes to have fun on their way to work. It is also for those who want something rare, as only 150 examples of the RS5 coupe will be coming to Canada. According to Audi, they are almost all sold out, so if you want one, hurry up. Prices start at $77,000.
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