By Kris Hansen
This is one sexy car. Even though it doesn’t possess any huge spoilers or gaudy add on bodywork, true gear heads will instantly recognize the RS 5 by the subtly flared fenders and honeycomb grille which differentiate it from the more pedestrian S5 (if we dare call it that).. But the true beauty of this car lies under the hood – a snarling 4.2 liter V8 which is more than eager to bring this beast to life.
It looks and sounds like a beast, but it doesn’t really act like one. As strange as it may sound, this is a car that you almost want to scare the crap out of you the second you hit the starter button, but it doesn’t. Even with 450hp on tap, The quattro drivetrain and various electro-nannies completely prevent the RS 5 from allowing even the most ham-fisted drivers to let things get too carried away. Not that we’re looking to get ourselves into trouble and hurt other people’s beautiful and expensive cars, but there are times when you really really want the RS 5 to show some fang, to remind you what it’s truly capable of. But it never really does. It’s just too good, too well mannered.
Around town, this car is positively tame. All controls are effortless to operate. It pulls from a stop light with no effort at all. If anything, this car feels bored when subjected to the mundane tasks of daily driving. But it never complains. It never stumbles or does anything nasty. Even the dual clutch transmission seems fine with stop and go traffic, with no shuddering or jerky shifts.
But the RS 5 has a true dual personality. The way to wake the beast is to give it a kick with your right foot. As the 4.2 liter engine shrieks to its 8200 rpm redline, the rs5 hunkers down and claws at the asphalt streaming beneath its meaty tires. The 7 speed dual clutch S-tronic transmission clicks off perfectly rev matched shifts in the blink of an eye. Speed builds very quickly in this car, but for best results, you’ll want to keep the revs above 4000 rpm, in the big side of the powerband, where the fun happens.
When you grab the RS 5 by the horns and whip it hard, it is an incredibly rewarding car to drive. All of the well planted does nothing scary activity we mentioned earlier comes in really handy when you decide to unleash the beast under the hood and call for all 450 of the Teutonic ponies.
The RS 5 comes standard with Audi’s high-tech rear sports differential, which enhances the B8 coupe’s already excellent handling balance by overdriving the outside wheel in cornering, effectively pushing the nose of the car around corners. The sensation is quite remarkable, and makes non-sports diff equipped cars feel like understeering pigs. It also helps the RS 5 seemingly defy the laws of physics as it flings itself around tight turns at ridiculous speeds. Once again, the harder you push this car, the happier it is.
You CAN get the RS 5 out of shape if you try hard enough. Say, go into a corner WAY too fast, then just yank on the wheel and hope for the best. In most cars you’d surely end up backwards in a ditch and hundreds of yards from your intended path. But not in the RS 5. You might get the rear to swing out a little if you try hard enough. Even with the stability control turned off, the RS 5 has such phenomenal mechanical grip and chassis balance that you have to actually try.
Fortunately the RS 5 is equipped with excellent high back sports seats, which hold you well in place during such shenanigans. Surely there are people who would love to have the European sports seats, which are narrow and deep, but not exactly comfortable. For our American sized bodies, we find the standard RS 5 seats to be just perfect though, even for long trips.
The thick perforated leather flat bottomed steering wheel receives communication from the front tires as well as you would expect from a multi-link front suspension – you can feel when the tires lose grip, but it doesn’t punish your hands unnecessarily. The feel of the electronically boosted steering is excellent, essentially exactly the same as the old hydraulically boosted steering, but with less weight and parasitic drag on the engine.
We loved our time with the RS 5. It’s a true driver’s car that doesn’t sacrifice comfort and practicality in the name of performance. It has an actual honest to goodness back seat, and a generous trunk.
We took it to a couple of enthusiast shows, and it was hugely popular. It is rare to get a ton of excitement for a bone stock car at an enthusiast show, but the RS 5 is not your average car.
It’s one sexy beast, and we love it!
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