While it certainly feels like an organic continuation of the 2010-2015 run of RS5s, this most recent entry into Audi’s A5 family sports a dramatically updated aesthetic which might be best described as falling somewhere between “risky” and “brave”. Personally, we embrace the uncharacteristically aggressive vibe of the RS5, feeling that it addresses an almost entirely different customer base, but we’ll get back to the superficial in just a few.
It’s safe to say that there are certain expectations placed upon any vehicle with a Bavarian pedigree, and with that in mind, the 2018 Audi RS5 does more than simply MEET those expectations. Hell, if we’re being completely honest, it does even more than EXCEED the expectations by combining the attributes of Audi performance with a design philosophy that challenges the comfort zone of automaker and loyalist alike.
There’s simply no arguing with a 2.9-liter V6 twin turbo capable of 444 horsepower, 443 lb-ft of torque and a 3.7 second sprint to 60 mph. Considering that the torque rating is an improvement of over 125 points from the previous generation, it’s hard not to appreciate the effort. Now, the previous RS5 was powered by a V8 that was mated to a seven-speed S-tronic dual clutch transmission. By transitioning to the V6 with an eight-speed automatic, the RS5 is better suited to handle the increased torque and even enjoys a 68 pound weight reduction over the front axle.
Boasting Quattro all-wheel drive, the RS5 gains performance and traction credibility courtesy of the system’s asymmetric torque split. And with the sport rear differential, redistribution of torque between the rear wheels give the RS5 a level of sporty handling that, frankly, you’d never expect from an all-wheel drive. That said, the rawness of such a sport-inspired driving experience is tempered confidently by the RS-fixed suspension with the added option of Dynamic Ride Control which minimizes body roll and improves overall handing. From behind the wheel, we’d be hard-pressed to question the end result.
Oh, and if speed is your thing, keep in mind that the Dynamic and Dynamic Plus package upgrade your brakes, as well as unlock an increased top speed of 174 mph. Just something to think about.
But how does the RS-5 measure up against Audi’s primary competitors?
Well, off the line, we’d choose the RS5 over the Mercedes-AMG C63 any day of the week. And if measured up against the BMW M4, we’d rule in favor of the RS5 again. All three fall in comparably in terms of starting price, just south of $70 grand. But by all accounts, the RS5 outraces both the Benz and the Bimmer (even with the enhancement packages that both would require in order to be truly competitive). But again, it’s the departure that Audi has made in the RS5’s leaner and angrier aesthetic that really seals the deal for some of us.
Now, Traditionalists might certainly take issue with the angular nature of its appearance, especially from head-on where (aside from the iconic badging) the RS5 feels less like a streamlined Audi, and more like a domestic American muscle car. But dig deeper, and you’ll begin to explore certain refinements that present themselves when certain design notes intermingle with others. Even head-on, within the union of its oversized honeycomb grille, rounded box flares and contoured hood, the RS5 strikes a chord both delicate and distinctive, composed and intense. Is it still an Audi? Of course. But it’s an Audi unlike anything we’ve ever seen before…and that is exciting.
And if this new breed of RS5 does anything for you, rest assured that you’ll be just as enamored with the cockpit experience that it offers. Infusing Audi’s trademark luxury and refinement with a racing-inspired aesthetic achieves a perfect union between exterior, interior and performance, making it a a master stroke in terms of differentiation within the segment.
Do we like the 2018 Audi RS5? What gave it away. And on less you’re an Audi-enthusiast that fears change, we’re certain that you’ll like it just as much.