Vehicle: 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback w/ Premium Package, Audi Sport Package, and Advance Drivers Assistance Package
MSRP as tested: $97,140
Specs: 2.9L twin-turbo V6 (444hp, 443 lb.-ft. torque), paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission
0-100kmh as tested: 3.6 seconds (3.9 claimed)
The Audi RS5 Sportback is pretty darn close to being the perfect daily driver, blending amazing performance and styling with everyday usability and practicality. And objectively speaking, it destroys the competition in most categories. But while it may be more capable and practical than its AMG and BMW M competitors, it isn't quite as badass or fun. During Audi's pursuit of squeezing as much performance as possible while still retaining the same level of daily-drivability of its A5 and S5 brothers, the RS5 lost its glorious 4.2L V8, as well as some of the charming personality that made the last generation RS5 so great. Still, this fierce luxury fastback remains one of the most capable and well-rounded performance cars on the market today.
The Audi RS5 isn't just fast; its eager to smack you with gobs of torque at any RPM, has pinpoint accurate steering, gives you a great feel for the road, and stays firmly glued to the pavement at all times thanks to the Quattro AWD system. The small but mighty 2.9L V6 engine (also found in the Porsche Macan Turbo) rockets the RS5 from 0-100km/h in just 3.9 seconds, and during our testing we even managed to achieve 3.6 seconds, with the help of launch control and building some boost.
Unlike rivals such as the BMW M3 or Mercedes C63s AMG, this German track monster isn't an overpowered RWD drifting/burnout machine, but rather a fine-tuned instrument of precision that can actually put down all its power in any scenario without spinning its tires. Combined with its insane amount of cornering grip and confidence-inspiring handling, the RS5 leaves you feeling like a much better driver than you might've thought you were. And with the snowy winters we get here in Canada, this also means the RS5 is a far more practical choice for all-season driving.
As impressive as the engine's performance is though, it just doesn't have as much personality as the 4.0L V8 from AMG, or BMW M's Inline 6, nor does it sound as good. While the constant crackles and burbles are a delight (you're almost guaranteed a fart-like blast of burbles on every upshift), power delivery feels too linear and predictable, and the exhaust note itself sounds a little tinny; a far cry from the V8 growl found in the last generation RS5.
So, what's the catch? Surely the RS5 isn't a perfect car? If you look at it through a purely objective standpoint, there is no catch; Audi has created a capable yet practical performance sport back that checks all the boxes on paper. But alas, there are things that specs and numbers simply don't account for, and its in this subjective 'fun' category where the RS5 falls a bit short. We already discussed the exhaust note being a bit lacklustre, but the truth is, as much as we were impressed with the RS5's capabilities, we just didn't have as much fun in it as we had in the Mercedes C63s AMG, or even the last generation RS5 for that matter. Its almost as if Audi has made the RS5 too perfect and refined, and in doing so took away some of the charm that made the RS5 such a riot to drive in the first place.
The RS5 hides its monstrous capabilities shockingly well. Start the car up in Comfort mode, and it glides along smoothy like a luxury car with only the slightest hint of engine rumble to hint at its capabilities, as opposed to jerkily inching forward or sounding like an idling muscle car. In fact, until you pop it into Dynamic mode, the RS5 remains as docile and easy-to-drive as its A5 and S5 younger siblings, with the only real compromise being fuel economy and ride quality. And this is what makes the RS5 so special and different from competitors (namely the BMW M3 and C63s AMG), who can't quite hide their stiff track-suspension setups, jerky engines and transmissions, and rumbling exhausts as well as the Audi can, thereby sacrificing the ability to maintain a docile persona when simply casually cruising.
Much like the rest of the experience, the RS5's interior is attractive, easy-to-use, feels high quality, and is extremely well-built. Being virtually identical to its A5 and S5 interiors (with the exception of a few RS badges and sportier seats and materials) isn't necessarily a bad thing given how competent those interiors are, but it also lacks some of the feeling of "specialness" that you might get in some other luxury sports cars. Although our tester did come with the Premium Package which added Nappa leather seats with contrast honeycomb stitching, giving the interior a bit more distinctive flair.
Practicality-wise, this is by far the most practical and spacious car in its segment. The Sportback's hatch provides far superior cargo capacity to any sedan in its class, and despite the sleek sloping roofline, also provides ample headroom and legroom for rear passengers.
To be honest, I'm a sucker for sportbacks designs, so the moment I laid eyes on the RS5 Sportback it was love at first sight. Unlike many performance sedans which don't look quite as sleek as their coupe counterparts, I actually prefer the RS5 Sportback's exterior looks over the coupes, and with speaking with current owners it looks like I'm not the only one.
The standard A5 Sportback looks like a baby A7, so its no surprised that the RS5 looks like a baby RS7 (which is quite the compliment, might I add). Accented with sharp body lines, sharp looking sequential LED lights, and a sleek coupe-like profile, its definitely a looker from any angle. To further differentiate this RS model from the rest, Audi has given the RS5 distinctive styling cues such as more aggressive bumpers, large RS signature twin oval exhaust pipes, a honeycomb RS grille, wider tires and wheel arches, and a plethora of other sporty touches.
Recommended Build: RS 5 Sportback ($97,140 CAD)
The RS 5 starts at $84,350, but our tester came loaded with the Advance Driver Assistance Package ($2100), Premium Package ($5000), and Audi Sport Package ($4800), as well as a Daytona Grey Pearl Effect paint job ($890), coming in at just under $100K CAD before fees and taxes. Despite the steep price, we wouldn’t spec it any other way, except maybe to opt for the price-inclusive flat-bottomed sport steering wheel, and perhaps the interior carbon fibre inlays ($900) to spice up the interior a bit.
The Premium Package is a must-have on the RS 5 (and pretty good value too relatively speaking). It includes larger wheels (the RS 5 looks pretty ridiculous on its standard 19-inch ‘star design’ wheels to be frank), Nappa leather with signature RS honeycomb stitching, a 360 camera, performance tires, customizable interior ambient lighting, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, as well as an amazing Bang & Olufsen® 3D Sound System.
Audi Sport Package is another must-have for hardcore enthusiasts, taking the RS 5’s fun-factor to the next level with the RS Sport suspension, exhaust, and dynamic steering, as well as increased top-speed to 280km/h. On the other hand, if you’re on a budget and don’t need semi-autonomous driving aids, consider saving yourself $2100 and skipping out on the Advanced Driver Assistance Package. Other optional packages include the Carbon Optics Package ($5600) and RS Interior Design Package ($1500), but these are purely aesthetic and can be had without.
To build your own Audi RS 5, visit: https://www.audi.ca/ca/web/en/models/a5/rs5-sportback/build-price