Test Drives

2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe Review: Method Mad




‘The most comfortable RS ever’ sounds like a terrible oxymoron, but somehow the Audi RS 5 makes it all come together

Singapore – Audi has made the most comfortable RS model in history.

No, we’ve not gone on a five-day no-sleep bender, nor have we found a new source of psychotropic drugs. The new Audi RS 5 is fast, furious and sharp, obviously.

 


But the thing that stands out the most, to me, is how darn comfy it is. And given Audi’s way of making fast cars, this actually makes quite a bit of sense.

The business of going fast used to be simple: As long as the car can go like a bat out of hell, the occupants are probably willing to endure fire and brimstone as well.

But things change with the scale of age and Age. Say, five decades ago, any car with more than 200hp and 0-100km/h time of less than 6.0-seconds was super.

Accordingly, if you’re 20, you can endure all kinds of human abuse to feed the need for speed. Five decades of birthdays on, ain’t nobody got time for torture-rack seats, roof scoops, tyres that roar like Niagara Falls.

In Audi tradition, for its premium mid-models (A4, A5, A6, A7) the front wheel drive, smaller-engined variant is also the comfiest and easiest to drive. Further up the scale there’s the quattro-equipped model, then the S model, then finally the RS in elevating levels of price, pace, power, and pitter-patter ride quality.

To match the theory, the current A5 coupe is an excellent car, arguably at its finest, most -price efficient in the basic 2.0 front-wheel drive model.

But on the extreme end of the spectrum, the RS 5 is now tops in the three P’s, yet downright refined at the same time.

Imagine you had magic spectacles that filter out sportiness, rendering you blind to the car’s wider front track, aggressive aero kit, ‘quattro’ front splitter badge, rear diffuser and big oval exhausts.

On the inside you’d miss the perforated leather, alcantara trim, sport seats though they might let the subtle satin-finished carbon trim panels through, since you can find lots of faux carbon in even mainstream cars now.

But your nerd glasses would stop there, because driving the RS 5 in Comfort mode (Audi doesn’t pretend there’s an Efficiency mode, even if the RS 5 is actually quite a sipper for a performance car) and you’d have a hard time telling it from the normal A5.

 

The switch to a modern twin-turbo V6, and the loss of the old 4.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8, is part of the reason why.

The 2.9-litre twin-turbo is similar to the unit found on the Porsche Cayenne S and Panamera S, and is plenty powerful and flexible. Like Porsche’s S and non-S divide, the S5 gets ‘only’ the 3.0-litre single-turbo V6 with 354hp.

In fact it’s more comfy and composed than the S5 Sportback. That’s nonsense, you freak, you say – then why shouldn’t someone just get an S5 and be done with it?

Well if you ask that question, you’re obviously not an RS buyer. Switch the driving modes to full attack, and all the usual extreme language (swearing included) applies.

Our only complaint is that it hasn’t enough of a voice – our test car didn’t have the optional sport exhaust for more snort and neighbour-riling – which would add considerable emotional content to the drive.

On the road, it’s clear the RS 5 delivers fully on its performance promises, delivering effortless velocity and kidney-straining G-forces, and it’s clear it should be a blast on track too.

 

Having also driven the previous RS 5 the 650km to-and-fro Sepang International Circuit, I’d clearly take the current one for flexibility and more pace on track too. That real-world flexibility means an RS 5 owner is more likely to drive it everyday.


You see when the red mist parts, your palms dry up, and traffic stretches out as far as you can see, fast cars are a pain. They twitch and wiggle, the drivetrain snorts impatiently, it’s like being  a lion tamer while sitting on the beast itself.

It’s situations like this where cars like the RS 5 – and Alpina B5 – come into their own.

The big but is the competition, but the Audi has an answer to that too. It can’t compare to the riotous sensory overload the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S coupe delivers, though it’s a more even match for the BMW M4.

 

Both those cars need an experienced hand to wring the best out of though, and while the Audi may not leave joyful streaks of dampness on your cheeks, it also won’t leave brown streaks of terror on your other pair of cheeks either.

It’ll also leave smaller streaks of red in your balance book too, it being $30k  and $70k cheaper than the M4 and C 63 respectively. Comfort and affordability are funny plus-points when buying a high-performance coupe, but both are things that are in short supply in this segment. A comfy performance car seems mad, but in a world where massive performance is available on almost every corner, Audi’s RS 5 has method too.

Audi RS 5

Engine 2,894cc, V6, twin-turbo  
Power 450hp at 5700-6700rpm
Torque 600Nm at 1900-5000rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h 3.9 seconds
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Efficiency 8.8L/100km
CEVS Band C2
Agent Premium Automobiles
Price $389,080 with COE
Availability Now

 

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong