Pace with grace: the transformation of the Audi RS5

It's lost weight, gained speed and earned itself a seat at the big boys' table. The Audi RS5 means business. 

The Audi RS5 has always managed to provide that happy mix of being mind-bendingly quick yet still look smart, sleek and sporty without being too shouty.
Thankfully, the latest model which has just arrived on our shores stays true to this tried and tested formula.

Big changes can be found under the bonnet. The 4.2 litre V8 has been dumped in favour of a new, lighter, 2.9 litre V6 twin-turbocharged engine, producing power capable of 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 155mph, although you can raise that to over 170mph if you remove the limiters. The quattro all-wheel drive with Sport differential ensures all of the power is plonked firmly onto the tarmac.

Bearing in mind that Audi, as part of the Volkswagen Group, has access to mechanical boffins at Bentley, Porsche, Bugatti and Lambo, it’s not hard to figure out that when it comes to producing a responsive, powerful engine, put all of those minds together in a room and you will end up with a masterpiece of oily engineering.

As with the next generation of Aston Martins, just because the top line figures of engine cylinders and ccs goes down, it doesn’t mean that bhp gets dragged down with it. Anyone who has driven the latest generation of 3-cylinder pocket rockets, will know that you don’t need a huge lump under the bonnet to generate speed and fun. It’s no fluke that Audi has made this latest RS5 develop 444bhp which, guess what, is more or less the same as the outgoing 4.2 litre model.

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There’s also a new 8-speed automatic gearbox and there’s a new chassis to keep everything under control. If you’re interested, you can squeeze just over 32mpg out of the RS5, although we suspect that hardly anyone will get close.

If you decide to have some fun on a twisty mountain road, the quattro transmission will ensure that only the most foolhardy will disappear over the nearest cliff edge.

Oh, and the price….£62,900. If you really want to make the most of the power, we’d recommend the optional RS sport suspension with Dynamic Ride Control and ceramic brakes. You’ll want that.

The styling is understated but mildly threatening. Pronounced air intakes, drainpipe size exhaust outlets, 19inch alloys, flared wheel arches and a honeycomb, single frame grille, mean you don’t need to read the RS letters to figure out that this is a rather special machine.

Out on the road, the first thing you notice is the ride. Slip into the Comfort mode on the adjustable damper settings, and the way the RS5 soaks up lumps and potholes around town is uncanny. Despite being a sports coupé, the ride is better than a lot of mundane family saloons. Once onto the open roads, everything stiffens-up and the handling sharpens. There can be few better cars for hurtling across Europe in total comfort and at blistering pace.

Okay, perhaps the deep growl of the outgoing 4.2 litre RS5 is a tad muted in this latest 2.9 litre model, but the exhausts still make a delightful sound under acceleration and, when the time comes to simply eat miles on a long distance cruise, the whole experience is remarkably hushed. And, as you would expect, if you decide to have some fun on a twisty mountain road, the quattro transmission will ensure that only the most foolhardy will disappear over the nearest cliff edge.

As for the interior, well, it’s an Audi. The build quality is better than any manufacturer. Everything feels and looks so good. In terms of what you get in terms of kit, I shan’t bother listing it. Needless to say that you get everything which includes Audi’s excellent infotainment system that gives you sat nav and internet connection, all of which, via the car’s SIM card, has Europe-wide roaming free of charge for three years.

All in all, the new Audi RS5 is an outstanding achievement. It builds upon the prowess of the outgoing model whilst integrating the latest mechanical engineering available at the VW Group. If Grand Touring is what you yearn for, the Audi RS5 will fit the bill perfectly. It’s utterly enthralling to drive, supremely comfortable, gorgeous to look at and highly desirable.

Form an orderly queue.

To find out more: audi.co.uk