The new Audi RS 5 Coupé arrives Down Under and dials performance up another notch.
14 December, 2017
There are few more competitive automotive markets in the world than Australia. With practically every manufacturer represented and a relatively small population, the Australian consumer is spoiled for choice. As the product becomes more refined, that competition ramps up accordingly, so when you get into the rarified atmosphere of high-performance, luxury vehicles, the contest is nothing short of gladiatorial.
But in this hugely competitive environment, Audi Sport vehicles have always thrived, with Australia consistently in the top five markets worldwide for these highly specialised vehicles.
Interest then in the all-new RS 5 Coupé has been intense in Australia since the new model was first revealed at Geneva International Motor Show earlier this year. The first RS model to use the MLBevo platform (as used on the Audi Q7, A4 and Q5 models), it was penned by Audi’s Head of Design, Marc Lichte, and is the first RS to use the new 2.9 TFSI V6 biturbo engine.
Certainly the shape of this brutally handsome model is familiar, taking the basic design language of the new A5 Coupé and giving it a more aggressive personality all its own.
Keen motorsport fans might also have spotted the subtle design cues taken from the all-conquering Audi 90 IMSA GTO, a vehicle that Lichte felt was a fitting ‘role model’ for the new RS 5 Coupé. The huge are intakes on either side of the wider, lower Singleframe grille, which are also mirrored on the edge of the front and rear lights are all direct descendants from the IMSA cars that so dominated IMSA series in the late 1980s, as is the wider stance 915mm wider than the previous model).
"Audi Sport vehicles have always thrived, with Australia consistently in the top five markets worldwide for these highly specialised vehicles."
"The RS 5 Coupé is sleeker then ever, the widened wheel arches and sculpted lines down the haunches giving it an undeniably muscular and athletic stance."
Indeed the new RS 5 is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, yet weighs in a substantial 60kg lighter. The weight saving is due in no small part to the new V6 twin turbo engine which saves 31kg alone. Further savings have been made in the body construction and materials and in the suspension, while options for those looking to squeeze every last bit of performance out of the RS 5 Coupé help trim even more weight – a carbon fibre roof or carbon engine cover for example, or superbly milled aluminium wheels which save a further 2kg on each corner.
Despite the increased size, which equates to increased interior comfort, the RS 5 Coupé is sleeker then ever, the widened wheel arches and sculpted lines down the haunches giving it an undeniably muscular and athletic stance, without going so far as to make it muscle-bound.
The styling though, does make a significant statement, that is more than backed up by the car’s performance and handling once unleashed on some of Australia’s finest twisting blacktop.
Here, heading from Hobart’s morning commuter traffic into the wilds of Tasmania, the big grand tourer shows why it is the current spearhead of the Audi Sport range – save of course for the R8. From mild-mannered, supremely comfortable conveyance, to blindingly quick, beautifully balanced sports car with just increased pressure on the accelerator.
The new 2.9 TFSI V6 biturbo, mated to a silky smooth eight-speed tiptronic transmission is an irresistible combination. Although the new V6 produces the same power output as the V8 of the previous model at 331kW, it is the increased torque, all 600Nm that makes all of the difference. Available from as low as 1900rpm right through to 5000rpm, the resulting surge, coupled with the intelligent quattro system with sports differential, give the car acceleration bordering on the supernatural. The spirit from 0 to 100km/h all over in 3.9 seconds – 0.06 seconds faster than the predecessor, but who’s counting? Top speed is an electronically governed 250km/h.
Efficiency too has benefited from the new engine, which boasts 8.8 litre of fuel per 100km – an efficiency gain of 16 percent over the the previous model.
On the twisting switchbacks of some of Tasmania’s hallowed Targa stages, the acceleration between hairpins is exhilarating and difficult to comprehend. So agile and superbly balanced is the RS 5, that even the very limited ability of the author is no impediment to a richly rewarding drive.
Power delivery is absolutely seamless, and while the default 40:60 split of power down (front to rear) gives the car a planted feel, up to 85 of the torque can be channelled to the rear wheels during spirited driving, with the sport differential actively transferring torque to the rear wheel with most traction.
Stopping power is more than up to the performance, with massive 375mm discs and six piston callipers as standard, while those looking for even more serious stopping power can option the 400mm ceramic brakes and bask in another 8kg weight saving to boot.
Inside the cabin, the RS 5 Coupé is immaculately appointed and finished as you would expect. There’s no mistaking the performance nature of the car, but this is certainly not some stripped down track car. The fine leather sports seats are stitched in the distinctive RS honeycomb pattern complete with the RS logos and hold you firmly, yet comfortably in place, regardless of what the torque and g-forces meters on the virtual cockpit might say about the prevailing forces at any given time.
"There’s no mistaking the performance nature of the car."
"Road noise is virtually non existent, but the sweet note of the twin exhausts is a performance enthusiast’s dream come true."
The flat-bottomed RS multifunction sport steering wheel allows you to control pretty much everything in the cabin and the car’s operating systems without taking your hands from the wheel, while the aforementioned virtual cockpit allows you to tailor the screen to provide the most relevant information for any given situation.
That may be tyre pressure and temperature, torque and g-forces or lap timer when you’re putting the RS 5 Coupé through its paces on a track. Or for a more sedate pace, perhaps a a traditional layout or detailed map with route instructions as you explore new territory or find your way in the city.
Road noise is virtually non existent, but the sweet note of the twin exhausts is a performance enthusiast’s dream come true. Of course there’s the superb Bang & Olufsen sound system as standard should you ever tire of the exhaust note – it’s a matter of mood and driving conditions as to which will be most appropriate.
Likewise the Audi drive select, which allows you to scroll through vehicle setups to suit the conditions and driving style.
Then there are the myriad safety and driver assistance systems – all silently present until they’re needed.
The RS 5 Coupé impresses across the board. The very epitome of the elegant grand tourer – and a high-performance sportscar and track weapon. Take your pick.
This is a car that does it all so effortlessly and just leaves you wanting to get back behind the wheel to do it all again.
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