2018 Audi RS 5: Two Less Cylinders, Two More Turbos

Published on July 12, 2017 in First Drives by Gabriel Gélinas

SOLDEU, Andorra – It's all the rage. After the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C 63, it's the Audi RS 5's turn to have its engine resized. So long, naturally aspirated V8, hello, 2.9-litre V6 with two turbochargers. Output at 444 horsepower is unchanged, but torque makes a prodigious leap from 317 to 442 lb.-ft. This is an authentic GT equipped with a high-performance all-wheel drive system for a ride that is as smooth as it is fast, regardless of weather conditions.

On the mountain roads of the Pyrenees, the RS 5 Coupé was up to the challenge, the turbochargers helping nullify the altitude effect that often afflicts naturally aspirated engines. The RS 5 Coupé’s twin-turbo, 2.9-litre V6 is, in some ways, a more dynamic version of the new 3.0-litre turbo V6 purring under the 2018 Audi S5’s hood. It has 100 cubic centimetres less displacement due to decreased piston travel designed to optimize air/fuel intake.

Compared to the previous version’s V8, this twin-turbo V6 delivers maximum power at lower revs and maximum torque between 1900 and 5000 rpm, making the ride simultaneously smoother and more urgent. The 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupé owes its 3.9-second 0-100 km/h time to its all-wheel drive system, which guarantees optimal actuation as soon as you press the accelerator. But much more than its blistering time, it’s the way the car expresses itself that impresses, delivering a sustained forward surge that is characteristic of supercharged engines. The only drawback is that the sound is now more muffled than before.

Photo: Audi Sport

Remarkable poise

Since the previous version’s seven-speed S tronic gearbox was incapable of dealing with the twin-turbo V6’s superior torque, it has been replaced by an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox. However, the RS 5 Coupé is keeping the full-time all-wheel drivetrain that sends 40% of torque to the front end and 60% to the back under normal circumstances. This ratio can climb up to 85% to the front end, if required. The paddles are wheel mounted and, although the car no longer has the twin-clutch gearbox, the automatic mimics it extremely well with fast gear changes.

When ordering the RS 5 Coupé, you can also opt for the active rear differential with torque vectoring. It does an excellent job ensuring optimal actuation coming out of turns by accelerating the exterior rear wheel faster, which helps catapult the car toward the next curve with authority. Fast but not furious, the RS 5 Coupé demonstrates remarkable poise and inspires confidence thanks to well calibrated and configurable links from car to ground. Furthermore, the oversized tires and precise steering help the car take on corners with conviction.

The RS 5 Coupé’s style combines sportiness and performance, while demonstrating a certain degree of restraint. The wider black beehive grille and larger front air intakes are immediately noticeable, as are the fenders that are 15 millimetres wider than on the A5. In back, two large, oval tailpipes shape the diffuser and a discreet spoiler overhangs the trunk lid. In Europe, the RS 5 Coupé can come with a carbon fibre roof, but we don’t know if it will be available in Canada yet.

Photo: Audi Sport

The cabin is proof positive that Audi is still the master of assembly and coordinating materials. The attention to detail is particularly striking when you notice the green stitching in the RS 5 Coupé’s Sonoma Green seats to mirror the vehicle’s unique body colour. Obviously, the Audi virtual cockpit is present and accounted for and includes a Dynamic mode that places the tach dead centre, flanked on the left by a G-force indicator and on the right by two indicators displaying power and torque as a percentage.

The 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupé will arrive in Canadian dealerships in the first quarter of next year, and its price should come in around the $87,000 mark, like the previous version.

Test drive report
Test model 2018 Audi A5
Trim level RS 5 Coupe
Price range N/A
Price as tested N/A
Warranty (basic) 4 years/80,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 4 years/80,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) 13,8 / 8,5 / N/A L/100km
Options N/A
Competitive models Jaguar F-TYPE
Strong points
  • Dynamic V6 engine
  • Capable automatic gearbox
  • Sure-footed all-wheel drive
  • Optional rear torque vectoring differential
  • Top-notch assembly and finish
Weak points
  • Muffled engine sound
  • Relatively heavy weight
  • High price
  • Cost of options
Editor's rating
Fuel economy 3.0/5 The change to the twin-turbo V6 helps improve fuel consumption by 17% compared to the previous version.
Comfort 3.5/5 Quiet ride and very comfortable thanks to a configurable suspension.
Performance 4.5/5 0-100 in 3.9 seconds. Need we say more?
Infotainment 4.5/5 The infotainment system is very user-friendly and the Audi virtual cockpit comes standard.
Driving 4.0/5 The RS 5 Coupé is very dynamic.
Overall 4.0/5 A GT in the purest sense of the term.
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