Performance, ride and handling

Giving the RS 5 the go it needs to outrun the M3 is a 4163cc V8 that is a development of the R8's and the RS 4's high revving units even though it is rumoured that it is basically the R8 V10's 5.2-litre V10 with two cylinders sliced off. The RS 5's unit churns out 450bhp, a full 100 horses more than the S5 coupe's V8 and 30bhp up on the R8 V8's unit. In terms of torque, the high revving RS 5 unit loses out to the S5's more flexible V8 by 10Nm, making up to 430Nm between 4000rpm and 6000rpm. While the S5's bent eight is all about torque, the RS 5will rev right up to over 8000rpm to deliver its goods high up in the rev band.

Below 4000rpm, the RS 5's V8 hardly feels stronger than the S5's unit. At low speeds, the V8 is as tame and unassuming as any V8 from a large executive. Rev it pass 4000rpm though and the evil side of the engine comes alive. From 4000rpm all the way to over 8000rpm, the V8 offers one continuous wallop of surge. It is a bit like a V8 Honda VTEC unit in the way it revs so sweetly.

Audi's quote of 4.6 seconds for the RS 5's 0-100km/h sprint time is entirely believable - it is quicker than the S5 to three figure speeds from rest by eight tenths of a second and it'll match a DCT equipped M3 coupe's time in a drag race to 100km/h, bearing in mind that the 420bhp BMW is 50kg lighter. Top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h but for just over a thousand dollars, Audi will derestrict the RS 5 to 280km/h if desired. Probably one of the best thing about the V8 is the noise it makes. It sounds pretty docile and quiet at low revs but the V8 will start to rumble like a Nascar racer as the revs pile up and the load increases. Select Dynamic mode on the standard fit Audi Drive Select and the V8 will take on an ever angrier attitude, the previously faint V8 rumble now has the voice to shake the earth underneath it as it now rumbles with a heavy bassy tone as valves in the exhaust system open up - it is like turning on the ‘Mega bass' feature on your MP3 player or Walkman.

Hooked up to the engine is a seven-speed S-Tronic twin clutch gearbox, the first time such a transmission is fitted onto a RS Audi. The RS 5's box actually makes for a pretty good mate for the engine once you can overcome the slight jerkiness and the drivetrain shunt at low speeds or when moving off the line - its shifts are quick, precise and smooth and it has nice ratios to exploit the V8's torque. You can swap gears using the steering wheel paddles in manual mode but best of all, it blips the throttle aggressively on down shifts in this mode.

The RS 5's underpinnings are based on the A4's so it gets the many design features and technologies which improve the overall dynamics compared to the previous RS 4. One of the key features is the placement of the engine - it sits further back than in previous generation Audis, resulting in an even weight distribution. At the same time, this reduces the "nose heavy" handling and ride trait that blights models like the previous A4, especially those with big engines.

Standard on the RS 5 is Audi's Drive Select. From inside the car, the driver can select between Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual modes to alter the settings for throttle response, exhaust, gearbox shift points, steering assistance and ratio, as well as the electronically controlled dampers and the optional sport differential.

The RS 5 doesn't feel "nose heavy" at all despite having a relatively large 4.2 V8 powerplant under its bonnet. Turn-ins are quick and sharp, but surprisingly, the steering does get a bit light and lifeless with Drive Select set in "Comfort" mode. In "Dynamic" mode though, the helm gets even quicker and a whole lot heavier for a more positive feel. But there's just something missing about the helm that makes the M3's so confidence inspiring - it still feels a tad lifeless even in "Dynamic" and its responses lack linearity, making its overall response a bit unpredictable. Body control, on the other hand, is excellent in "Dynamic" mode - there isn't a degree of unwanted roll, pitch or dive.

With quattro all-wheel drive, there is not only ample grip when exiting corners - it also gives you a feeling of reassurance and stability. Should anything turns pear shaped, there is the standard fit ESP to hopefully save the situation. A new feature within the RS 5's quattro drivetrain is the self -ocking crown gear centre differential. The centre diff has the ability to transfer up to 70 percent of the engine torque to the front wheels while up to 85 percent can be sent to the rear depending on the conditions. In normal circumstances, torque split between front and rear axles is 40 to 60 percent for more rear biased sporty handling overall. The new diff operates in conjunction with electronic torque vectoring to further improve traction and hence increase cornering speeds. An additional option is the S4's effective sport differential at the rear - this aids the RS 5's turn in further.

The ride is firm but is comfortable and pliant enough for most enthusiast drivers with Drive Select set to Comfort. This is one coupe that you can cruise at speed on the highway whole day and still feel fresh and relaxed at the end of the drive. The same can't actually be said of some of its closest competitors.

The RS 5's anchors are uprated over the S5's thanks to six pot calipers up front and gargantuan 365mm discs. The car tested had optional ceramic front discs - a hefty $28,603 option but useful if you track often. Stopping power is strong but pedal feel is pretty much lacking - the left pedal feels spongy on first application but the brakes suddenly turn grabby as you apply more force, making it a tad difficult to modulate.


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Engine Capacity 4163cc
Engine Type V 8
Compression Ratio 12.3:1
Bore x Stroke (84.5x92.8)mm
Power 450bhp @ 8250rpm
Torque 430Nm @ 6000rpm
Power to Weight 260.9 bhp per ton


Acceleration 4.6s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 250 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 9.3 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed 7 Speed S-Tronic
Drive Type F4


Body Type Coupe
(L x W x H)
(4649 x 1860 x 1366) mm
Wheelbase 2751 mm
Kerb Weight 1725 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 64 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs