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The all-conquering Audi RS5 storms into 2015 with a few detail tweaks that enhance what is already the most extreme four-seat performance car the brand makes. The car packs some changes to the honeycomb grille’s color options and a handful of other refinements like redesigned LED optics out back and adaptive cruise inside.
The AUDI RS5 is so hardcore macho that it makes the R8 4.2 seem like a posh cruiser. The engine literally thunder-claps up its rev range in seconds with a bassy baritone from the front and a bellowing growl from the giant exhaust out back.
Audi’s two layers of performance upgrades mean that RS5 can be laser focused on delivering crushing acceleration and track performance at the expense of touring comfort. The increase in drama from the Audi S5 to the RS5 is akin to the C63 AMG versus the C63 AMG Black Series.
The exterior of the RS5 makes it clear that this is no sports cruiser. As quick as the S5 is, it struggles to look nearly as expensive or purpose-driven as the RS model. Despite big wheels, the S5 shares all its looks closely with the base A5.
The RS5 looks unique from all angles, especially up front. The RS5 replaces the S5’s horizontal grille slats for a deep, 3D honeycomb finish for the whole frame. There is no visible bumper element under the grille. The deep front air dam is finished in contrasting silver and extends further under the grille, as well as all the way to the wings of the car.
Just above the air dam beside the grille are two huge air intakes finished with dark horizontal slats ahead of a similar honeycomb in the grille. The side-most air vents feature visible air channels that push a huge volume of air past the car’s additional cooling radiators and the front brakes.
Clever ductwork for brake cooling has been a part of German cars for decades. Rarely are the vents as overt and prominent as on the latest RS Audi’s, however. The RS6 Avant and forthcoming 189 mph RS7 take the design highlight to a new level with aluminum shrouds marking out the key side ducts.
Despite the fenders looking incredible and giving the RS5 a squat, low stance on the road, they only marginally widen the car and the tracks are virtually unchanged versus the S5 . What they do provide is a larger wheelhouse that increases the maximum wheel and brake package sizes up to 20 inches versus the max 19 inches on the S5.
The RS5 is available with optional 15-inch front carbon-ceramic brakes for an extra $6,000. Keen eyes may also note the new circular radar array in the lower bumper of the 2014 RS5.
None of the wheels or paint colors are too exciting, but the base 10-spoke RS rims are just too subtle. The optional five-spoke rotor design in dark-grey-titanium finish is the best of the lot.
Out back, the new LED taillight designs are far tougher to notice than the newer headlamps out front. The new taillight graphic basically replaces the old bulb blinker with an LED, gives the LED bulbs larger lenses and adds a crisp, dot-free LED strip along the bottom of the lights.
The trunk-lid spoiler is well integrated and deploys automatically at 75 mph but also offers a manual up or down selection from inside the cabin.
Down below is where the real action lives. The lower rear bumper shows where the hundreds of hours of wind tunnel tweaking really become visible. The functional diffuser lives between two 5-inch oval exhaust pipes and is topped by a body-color strip that recalls some racing aero mods. Just above the painted strip is a matching honeycomb mesh to flush any trapped air from the wheel wells or underbody out the back. Things like this are critical at the RS5’s 174 mph top speed.
The interior of the RS5 is able to successfully recreate some of the exterior’s brutal style, via carbon-fiber inlays that replace the aluminum or wood in lesser Audis . It’s a nice-looking weave with low-gloss sheen, but is purely decorative. The car is also offered with a matte painted finishes that match the color of the carbon seatbacks.
These seats are simply gorgeous and have a high-back design with integrated headrest for maximum support. Overall, they offer a level of adjustability and comfort that most racing seats can’t achieve.
In addition, their huge base design means all drivers will sink right in. They maintain the 12-way power operation with memory functions and a four-way power-adjustable lumbar support. Traditional three-point seatbelts make driving the RS5 easier on a daily basis but there’s room to thread a racing harness through the standard buckets.
A new-for-2014 featured option is a vented comfort seat pack that is less hardcore.
The rest of the interior is simply loaded with most of the S5 options included as standard. Some highlights include the dark headliner and the five leather themes available.
The only interior options you really need are the MMI Nav setup and the driver assistance pack that includes adaptive cruise and blind-spot assist.
The RS5 is powered by the R8 ’s 4.2-liter aluminum V-8 producing 450 horsepower and 316 pound-feet of torque. The official 0-to-60 mph time is 4.5 seconds, but times as low as 4 seconds have been recorded in ideal conditions. Power is channeled through a seven-speed, twin-clutch transmission and to all four wheels at a ratio of 40:60 front to rear.
Out back, the RS5 comes as standard with the Quattro sport rear diff that provides mechanical limited-slip and torque vectoring to overdrive the outside rear wheel around corners. This addition always enhances the sense of speed and can dramatically increase the car’s turn-in responsiveness in extreme conditions.
Replacing the chrome exhausts for a black finish is a recommended option with a sport pack that also adds some beautiful noise from the back. With an engine so vocal, it takes a loud exhaust to be heard over the racket from the front.
The engine is hugely powerful but offers a slight throwback versus the latest turbocharged engines in the RS6 and RS7. As a naturally aspirated unit, the horsepower peak is at an uneasy 8,250 rpm and the (relatively modest) torque peak doesn’t happen until 4,000 rpm.
Therefore, this is an engine that likes to rev. Ultra-lightweight internal components help the big V-8 rev like a racecar engine. The responsive S-tronic gearbox ensures the engine is never bogged down and can drop multiple gears rapidly for passing.
The stability control offers varying degrees of assistance and includes Sport and Off settings that don’t require any pulled fuses like some of the faster Mercedes-Benz models.
The optional carbon-ceramic brakes are a new design and pack new-for-2014 eight-piston calipers painted gloss black and labeled “Audisport Carbon Ceramic.” Their 15-inch size is a 0.6-inch jump up from the S5, but still 1.5-inches smaller than the largest brakes on the heavier RS6 Avant .
The steel brakes come standard and have a new wave design at the edge of the disc for better heat dissipation.
The RS5 gets unique suspension settings that are far harder than even the S5 in the name of ultimate track performance. The car would benefit from the magneto-rheological dampers Audi uses for the TT and R8 to enhance the ride quality. Audi’s Quattro tuning division has yet to implement the tech with the same verve as its parent brand.
The AUDI RS5 coupe is the ultimate four-seat Audi in more ways than sheer speed and gut-wrenching handling. It brings a cannon to the swordfight with its exterior styling and represents a great daily driver for people with a garage full of supercars.