The Audi RS5 is the fastest version of the A5 you can buy. Let’s get that out there, right away. But it’s more than just speed. Available as a two-door Coupé and a five-door Sportback, both with space for four adults, it’s a classy number. The twin-turbocharged V6 engine gets it from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, which makes it a direct rival for the BMW M4 and Mercedes-Benz C63 S.
The RS5 Coupé and Sportback have supercar-like performance, but they're subtle and don’t look radically different to the standard A5. They both sit lower than the standard car and there’s extra silver or black trim within the bumpers and door mirrors.
You also get 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, the wheel arches are more flared than usual, there’s a smattering of RS5 badges and there are two large tailpipes. The overall effect is subtle but effective.
This version of the RS5 appeared in 2017 and was facelifted in 2020, when it got a wider grille, more air intakes where the bonnet meets the grille, new lights front and rear, plus a rear diffuser to improve airflow.
The RS5 Coupé and Sportback have supercar-like performance, but they're sublte and don’t look radically different to the standard A5.
What's it like to drive?
The RS5 has a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 engine under its bonnet. Audi’s Quattro set-up sends that power to all four wheels – the result is 0-60mph in less than 4 seconds.
As you might expect, the engine is incredibly responsive, and you can use paddles behind the steering wheel to take control of the automatic gearbox – or simply let it do its own thing.
The Audi Drive Select system lets you choose modes that sharpen the gearbox’s responses, makes the steering feel heavier and turns up the engine noise on cars with the sports exhaust fitted.
It also makes the ride firmer if the optional Dynamic Ride Control dampers have been added. The firmest mode – Dynamic – is best used on smooth surfaces and all but removes any trace of body roll on twisty roads.
Audi’s Quattro set-up sends that power to all 4 wheels – the result is 0-60mph in less that 4 seconds.
Audi has been famed for its quality interiors for years and the RS5 is no exception. Sit in the soft leather and suede-covered driver’s sports seat and you’re presented with a beautifully crafted dashboard, the top half of which is covered with lashings of soft-touch plastics.
An infotainment widescreen sits high up on the dash and is operated via a dial ahead of the gear lever. A 12.3-inch digital screen (Audi calls it a Virtual Cockpit) is in front of the driver and can be used to display sat-nav info. Below the infotainment screen is the tri-zone climate controls. Just about everything looks fantastic and feels like it’ll stand the test of time.
The driver’s seat and steering wheel move every which way to help you get comfortable, and both front seats are heated – on some RS5s they’ll even give you a massage.
Those front seats are hugely supportive and cosseting. A couple of adults will be fine in the rear, too, but the 5-door Sportback will make life easier for them, both when getting in and out but also because rear headroom is better.
As standard, the infotainment system is very good indeed, and is controlled via Audi’s MMI dial. You get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus sat-nav that shows how much traffic lies ahead, a DVD player, a 10GB hard drive and some cars get a Bang & Olufsen system with 19 speakers.
The RS5’s cabin has plenty of space for your oddments, including bins on either side of each occupant (front and rear on both body styles), a glovebox, a small tray beside the gear lever, a cubby under the front armrest and trays between the rear seats.
The boot on the Coupé and Sportback is surprisingly spacious and well-shaped. Naturally, the Coupé’s opening is more restrictive but you’ll be able to get two or three large suitcases in there.
The Sportback has a hatchback opening, so it’s better for awkward-shaped objects and the rear seatbacks on both cars are split 40/20/40 and fold almost flat to accommodate longer loads.
Reliability and running costs
Surprisingly, the incredibly powerful engine has an official average economy figure of 30.4mpg, which was measured using the latest, more realistic, WLTP regulations. That’ll plummet if you make full use of all the performance. It’s nice to know you should be able to achieve a decent figure when cruising along at the speed limit on the motorway.
Audi has a strong reputation but isn’t always the best performer when it comes to reliability, with a mid-table ranking in independent surveys. Its cars get a three-year warranty when new, so you might want to consider cinchCare for added peace of mind.
What we love
We love the RS5’s stunning looks. Sure, the badges give the game away, but the styling is a tasteful upgrade over the regular A5. Obviously, it’s nice to have an engine that can deliver the goods and theV6 unit is peachy, with huge dollops of grunt from low revs up to the red line. We also love the interior, which is beautifully built, sumptuous and loaded with tech as standard.
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Audi’s sure-footed flagship A5 is a brilliant performer in all weathers and gives rivals a real run for their money. Some may be more involving to drive but none can beat its classy interior – and few will leave you feeling quite so refreshed after you’ve powered from one end of the country to the other.
This review was