The last Audi RS 5 was always a slightly confused beast. It was fearsomely fast, but never managed to engage or excite like the BMW M4 and AMG C63, preferring straight lines to sinewy mountain passes. Rather than going after wannabe race drivers, the fresh RS 5 is designed to appeal to the more laid back driver with a new, more clearly defined focus on grand touring.
Unlike its V8-powered predecessor, the new RS 5 debuts a smaller, more efficient turbo V6 engine for Audi. The new engine makes the same 331 kW (450 hp) as the donk it replaces, but peak torque is now pegged at 600 Nm (443 lb.ft) – a whopping 170 Nm (125 lb.ft) more than before. As a result, the edgy new Coupe will hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 3.9 seconds on its way to a (derestricted) top speed of 280 km/h (174 mph).
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In spite of this impressive performance, the smaller engine returns 8.7 l/100km (27 MPG) on the New European Drive Cycle (NEDC), which is 17 percent better than the previous car.
Power has never been a problem in fast Audis, though. Hotted-up RS models traditionally struggle in the corners, where their all-wheel drive system can leave them feeling a bit one-dimensional compared to tail-happy BMW M and AMG models. Although it says the new RS 5 is designed to be a big, comfortable grand tourer, Audi has still put time into making it a sharper steer than the last car.
Gone is the rear trapezoidal-link suspension, replaced with a new five-link setup, while the five-link front suspension has been revised as well. Also helping the RS 5 handle better is a carbon fiber roof, which contributes to a 60-kg (132-lb) weight saving over the outgoing car. Power is still put to the road through a quattro all-wheel drive system, tuned to send 60 percent of its power to the rear wheels in normal driving. Will that be enough to make the new car feel alive? Only time will tell.
One area where the RS 5 is already a winner is style, inside and out. The standard A5 is handsome, but it can't come close to matching the drama on offer in the pumped-up, borderline steroidal car launched in Geneva. Beyond the deep front splitter and more aggressive rear diffuser, the bulging wheelarches and bigger wheels give it a sense of presence rivals simply can't match.
The interior is standard Audi fare, which means there's lots of high-quality materials and dark leather offset by contrast stitching. The (very clever) virtual cockpit is standard, with dedicated displays when the driver switches into the racier modes, and the standard steering wheel has been swapped out for a flat-bottomed item. You even get knee pads on the center console, lest your vigorous driving lead to limbs bashing the center console.
Pricing for the RS 5 starts at €80,900 (about US$85,400) and the car is on show in Geneva. You can check it out in the video below.