Audi RS5 Sportback first drive: The civilised beast

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I’ve driven a few sporty Audis, and I’ll be honest, I’ve been left feeling a bit cold afterwards. It’s not that they aren’t any good, it’s just they’re a bit too…clinical. They feel more like tools of precision as opposed to elements to evoke emotion. It was a sunny September day when I climbed in to the Audi RS5 and first impressions were positive.

For starters, it certainly looks the part. It’s muscular, chiselled and intimating like Mr Hinx from Spectre. It’s just as brutish too, thanks to the 2.9 litre twin turbo V6 petrol engine that lurks beneath that resplendent Sonoma Green painted bonnet. The inclusion of a turbocharged V6 may disappoint some, but think of it like this, the new engine has 170Nm extra torque compared to the old car.

More specifically, the V6 offers 600Nm torque (443 lb ft) along with 450hp, so this is far from a slouch. This impressive power is fed to all four wheels using Audi’s famous quattro system via a 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox. 62mph is over and done with in just 3.9 seconds, and the top speed, is of course, limited to 155mph, but if you pay Audi some more money, it can be increased to 174mph.

What’s it like to drive?

As with any sporty Audi, there are a choice of driving modes, but for my short but sweet drive, I pretty much Dynamic mode locked in all the way. This of course makes everything tauter and more responsive, putting the RS5 in to maximum attack. A mere prod of the throttle is all you need to get a good taste of what the RS5 can offer, and believe me, it’s a lot!

The car does make a decent noise, but I would like a bit more atmosphere and I was a little disappointed there wasn’t enough noise in the cabin. It felt like I was sat quite a long way from the exhausts, but on the plus side, this will help refinement, plus you could also make a few modifications to the car if that happens to be of interest.

Audi RS5 Sportback

The 8-speed Tiptronic works very well; it’s a slick and responsive gearbox that works beautifully with that beastly engine, and of course, the quattro all wheel drive system. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, there is no option for a manual, but I doubt many will miss it.

So, it’s fast in a straight line, but what about the corners?

The Audi RS5 is most definitely capable in a straight line, but that almost counts for nothing if it can’t corner well, and big Audis have been known for understeer in the past. I did find that the steering was a bit too light for my liking, but on the plus side, it’s direct. There’s no understeer that I could detect on my short drive, and the Sport differential definitely helps the car to keep a tight line.

The brakes perform very well, even though they are having to stop a fair amount of weight, but there is the option of carbon ceramics if you bank account happens to be feeling generous. Speaking of the weight (over 1,700kg) , the RS5 feels relatively nimble and it doesn’t feel as big as it looks through the corners.

Audi RS5 Sportback

What about the ride, the refinement?

The ride is predictably firm, but to be honest, it’s more compliant than I was expecting, so I can see there is no reason why this couldn’t be used as a daily driver. Placing the car in to the Comfort mode will of course improve this area, but there will still be an element of firmness in the background. Refinement is impressive as well, especially when you consider the car’s riding on big alloys and tyres of a low profile.

The wonderful interior is a big help of course, as it makes easier to spend time in the car, which will be welcome on longer journeys. There’s plenty of leather, premium materials and technology to boot, but when you consider how much this car is, this is to be expected.

How much is it exactly?

The RS5 Sportback is available in three trim levels, the ‘cheapest’ of which will set you back £69,525, offering standard features such as 20″ alloys, RS styling, performance exhaust, LED headlights, LED rear lights, RS Super Sport electronically adjustable front seats trimmed with leather and alcantara, heated front seats, and a massage function for the front seats.

On top of that, there’s also a panoramic roof, power tailgate, keyless entry, Audi Virtual Cockpit, MMI Navigation Plus, wireless phone charging, Sport differential, RS drive select, front and rear parking sensors, three zone climate control, as well as a good host of safety systems.

Final thoughts

So, did the Audi RS5 Sportback leave me cold after my short drive? The answer, is no. This is one of very few fast Audis that I’ve driven that has excited me. The car feels alive, it actually feels like it has a bit of soul, which is something I didn’t think I’d say to be honest. There’s plenty of performance, there’s a good amount of practicality, and it’s a great looking thing, so I’d say there’s plenty of positives the RS5 can offer. Just make sure not to go mad on the options list…

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