Spoilt for choice

Audi RS 4 Avant, RS 5 Coupé and RS 5 Sportback debut on Australian roads.

Three more reasons to smile in a year that has ‘had its share of challenges’ – but which one to choose?

Mark Bramley

14 October, 2020


These three models are well known to performance aficionados, but they come with distinct new styling and a wealth of new equipment that further refines the breed

In a year that few will remember fondly for obvious reasons, it’s important not to dwell on the negatives but to celebrate the high points that bring a smile to the face and reinforce the positives in life. For Australian performance enthusiasts, 2020 has certainly not been all doom and gloom, but has in fact offered up any number of reasons to absolutely beam with joy. Think new Audi R8 models, RS Q3 SUV and Sportback, RS 6 Avant, RS 7 Sportback and TT RS just to get the juices flowing. Now, that formidable line-up has swelled with the introduction of the latest iterations of the Audi RS 4 Avant, RS 5 Coupé and the RS 5 Sportback – three excellent reasons to embrace life and go in search of twisty roads.

These three models are well known to performance aficionados, but they come with distinct new styling and a wealth of new equipment that further refines the breed. New stying in this case is a matter of evolution as opposed to revolution, with various elements refined and in many cases, sharpened on these new models. The Audi single frame grille is longer and lower in keeping with the styling on the RS 6 and RS 7 models, and they are devoid of any surrounding or framing. There is a new front splitter treatment and those taunt, muscular flanks remain, giving all three cars that tensed, dynamic look – reminiscent of a sprint ready on the blocks. 

Big 20-inch Audi Sport alloys are standard fair, with gloss red RS brake calipers and RS sports exhaust system with gloss black oval tailpipes all tell tale RS inclusions, while there is also a gloss black exterior package which is standard equipment on the new models, but owners can also opt for the matt aluminium treatment at no cost.

All three models also feature the latest in lighting technology with Matrix LED headlights with distinctive light signatures, and the two RS models also feature Audi laser light as standard equipment, giving even greater range out on the highway.

As much as being performance specials, these vehicles represent the epitome of luxury, so all of the finer things in life have been well and truly catered for when you slip inside these latest RS offerings. Here you are greeted with that trademark Audi luxury and finish, as well as the very latest in automotive technology and connectivity, all beautifully combined to offer elegant accommodation and the highest levels of technology. 

Of course these are fundamentally different vehicles, with the RS 4 Avant  ($147,900*) essentially a race car cleverly disguised as a station wagon, while the RS 5 Coupé and Sportback (both $150,900*) offering up a classic sports coupé experience and the unique five-door interpretation, the RS 5 Sportback.

Aside from the obvious differences that exist because of configuration (RS 4 Avant verses RS 5 Coupé 2+2 for example), each offers up RS sport front seats in fine Nappa leather with honeycomb stitching which are of course electrically adjusted and feature heating, lumbar support and massage function. Controls are very much driver focused as you would expect of vehicles of this performance pedigree, with the flat-bottomed RS multifunction sport steering wheel allowing the driver to control various functions as well as steering the car. And then there are the numerous finishes and touches throughout like the gloss black inlays, the stainless steel pedals and the illuminated RS door trims – subtle and beautifully executed.

So too the integrated touch screen and Audi virtual cockpit, which are integrated into the elegant interiors and monitor everything from torque and g-forces, to navigation, entertainment and even tyre pressure. Special RS-specific screens have been built into the virtual cockpit, allowing the driver to tailor the view to best suit the situation, whether that be a quiet drive in the country or a day at the track. The head-up display is likewise invaluable whether navigating in traffic or monitoring accumulated lap times, allowing you to keep your eyes fixed on the road or track ahead and still be appraised of all important information.

As much as being performance specials, these vehicles represent the epitome of luxury, so all of the finer things in life have been well and truly catered for

The 2.9- litre TFSI V6 engine with twin turbochargers that they all share never fails to generate a smile

Of course for those times when intense concentration is not required, each of these RS models offers Audi Smartphone Interface, Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System (with 19 speakers, 755 watts), Digital radio DAB+ and Audi phone box light which includes wireless charging. 

In addition, all three feature Audi connect plus as standard equipment, connecting the cars to a world of infotainment, connectivity, security and safety functions via an embedded SIM card. 

Customers can also add their own touches or tailor their vehicle to perfectly suit their lifestyle with the availability of a number of option packages including the matt aluminium styling package, carbon and black styling package and the RS design package in red for the interior with Alcantara highlights. There are also a number of 20-inch wheel options available, including an especially catching matte bronze milled wheel that really stands out in combination with the right exterior colour. 

But quite aside from all of the luxury and equipment, it is the combination of powerplant and chassis that really place these three models in a class of their own. The 2.9- litre TFSI V6 engine with twin turbochargers that they all share never fails to generate a smile every time you hit the starter button – that distinctive snarl and burble simply music to the ears even at idle.

At full noise though it develops 331kW of power and 600Nm of torque that’s on tap from 1900-5000rpm and account’s for the extraordinary acceleration – 0 to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds for the RS 5 Coupé and Sportback and just a fraction more for the RS 4 Avant at 4.1 seconds. 

This exceptional V6 engine works in concert with an eight-speed tiptronic which can be used using the aluminium paddles on the steering wheel or as a purely automatic transmission (with dedicated Sport function), and of course quattro and the superior roadholding it provides is a given on RS models.

Standard power split is 40:60 front to rear, but the system can direct up to 85 percent of torque to the rear wheels when you’re really pushing on, and the quattro sport differential can send almost all of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels as required.

Of course in real time, this all happens so quickly and seamlessly that you’re unaware, except for rear bias and the fact that the car just hunkers down and blasts through bends and out the other side. There is a feeling of complete composure from these RS models, the incredible acceleration coupled with massive brakes that allow you to brake late into a bend with confidence and without unsettling the car’s balance. Even the most ham fisted approach ( I speak from experience), or braking hard from speed on a bumpy road surface can be turned into gold, the car refusing to be upset or unsettled no matter the surface or the indiscretion, delivering an exhilarating ride through the twisty bits every time.

These models also see the addition of the new RS 1 and RS 2 modes in the Audi Drive Select for the first time, allowing you to preset two distinct performance settings and select them in an instant as the situation dictates.

Given our local speed limits, the governed top speed of 250km/h is reserved for days on the race track, but the acceleration from standstill and the incredible combination of dynamic steering, RS sport suspension and quattro unite to turn any suitable winding road into an immensely fulfilling encounter.

These models also see the addition of the new RS 1 and RS 2 modes in the Audi Drive Select for the first time

Blindingly fast and incredibly surefooted, all three wear the coveted RS badge with pride

Driven more sedately though, each of these RS models is capable of tremendous fuel efficiency, delivering 9.5 L/100km and 9.4 L/100km for the RS 4 and RS 5 models respectively. 

Of course a full suite of driver assistance and safety systems enhance the day to day ownership experience, with the likes of the 360-degree cameras and adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go functions quickly becoming part of everyday. Likewise the traffic jam assist and park assist and the myriad other ‘quiet’ systems like Audi pre-sense front and rear that only spring into action should they be required. The overall effect though is one of having every base covered, and that’s a pretty fair appraisal of these three new RS models.

Blindingly fast and incredibly surefooted, all three wear the coveted RS badge with pride. But each vehicle is equally accomplished on the school run, heading into the office (for those who don’t now work from home) or heading out to the country for the weekend. The choice facing performance enthusiasts is which configuration best suits their lifestyle. The more style driven persona of the RS 5 Coupé, or perhaps that combination of style and greater internal accommodation and storage from the RS 5 Sportback? Or the RS 4 Avant which has always enjoyed its own cult following – all the practicality and utility of a station wagon with race car performance and handling. But regardless of your personal preference, each of these models represents the pinnacle of automotive performance in vehicles that can be driven every day – and that’s reason to smile and go in search of the perfect road, far from the madding crowd.

(*Manufacturer List Pricing [MLP] – excludes dealer delivery and government statutory charges)