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Driven: Audi's 331kW RS5

2010-10-14 12:07

Hailey Philander

BEASTLY: Don't fall for the RS5's good looks. A fierce V8 lurks beneath.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer AUDI
Model RS5
Engine 4163 cc V8
Power 331 @ 8250r/min
Torque 430 @ 4000 – 6000r/min
Transmission 7-speed S tronic
Zero To Hundred 250 km/h (governed)
Top Speed 4.6 seconds
Fuel Tank 64 litres
Fuel Consumption 10.8 l/100 km
Weight 2225 kg
Boot Size 455 litres
ABS 18” high-performance brake system, ABS/EBD and ESP with brake assist
Tyres 9J x 19 cast aluminium wheels / 265/35 R 19
Front Suspension Five-link front suspension, upper and lower wishbones, tubular anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension Independent-wheel, trapezoidal-link rear suspension with resiliently mounted subframe, anti-roll bar
Price R907 540
The new Audi RS5 could be touted as the perfect everyday sports car – syrupy sweet when necessary, but a total hell-raiser when prodded – and it comes with Audi’s revised quattro system. We drive it.

Audis are boring, are they?

Well, we’d challenge the naysayers to spend some time with the new Audi RS5 before deciding.

Of course, typically Audi, the RS5 is the ultimate sleeper. Modeled on the pretty, yet sombre A5 Coupe, RS5 is subtlety at its best, showing the differences in the details.

So we were carted off to South Africa’s signature race circuit, Kyalami, to see what the RS5 had in store for us.

Granted, we would not experience too much pedestrian-like driving on the launch, although a bit of low speed driving and manoeuvring was required here and there. The car seemed convincing enough and I have no doubt given its mandate, as an Audi first and RS product second, the RS5 should be fairly comfortable and spacious when suffering the daily grind.  

RS5 is marginally larger than the regular A5, but the longer front and rear overhangs mostly accommodate the bigger bumpers (with an integrated rear diffuser). The car’s quad pipes are shamefully masked by oval-ish twin tailpipes jutting from the bumper while a pop-up spoiler is another of the RS5’s cosmetic distinctions.

But while I’m sure the RS5 is able to exhibit perfectly gentleman-like behaviour on most occasions, the presence of the RS nomenclature indicates it also enjoys a mild spot of thrashing when the mood takes it.

Of course, one should never be denied simple pleasures. In this instance, dial Audi’s three-mode Drive Select from Comfort or Auto to Dynamic, step on the gas, listen as the big V8 awakes and gnashes its cylinders and prepare for the onslaught. Hands grip the voluptuous steering wheel a little tighter and your bum cheeks play along, tightening up as if to secure their position in the RS 5’s special seats. The pretensioned seat belt is barely noticeable as it cuts into your collarbone with every violent jolt…

STRAPPING: RS5's styling adds a certain machismo to the classic coupe look.

Where the A5 – and S5 even – may have felt a little heavy at times, the high-performance RS5 feels light on its wheels and permanently poised for action.

Petrolhead heaven.

A variation of the engine that first bullied its way into our hearts in the still-awesome, previous generation RS4, this V8 remains one of the most endearing engines in recent memory.

The free-revving, naturally aspirated V8 generates 331kW at 8250r/min and 430Nm from 4000-6000r/min.

However, don’t be dissuaded by the high revs at which this engine’s peak torque figure is recorded – the bulk of the torque is available in the lower ranges and makes itself known well before the red needle hits the 4000r/min mark.

However, just when the torque kicks in is of little consequence when you’re chasing a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.6 seconds.    

And enjoy it while it lasts – this is one of the last incarnations of the fearsome (and fearless) high-revving 4.2-litre FSI V8 in an Audi product as it, too, becomes a victim of more stringent European emissions standards.

For the first time, Audi’s seven-speed S tronic is mated with a high-revving FSI unit, and Ingolstadt credits this match with the RS5’s decent fuel consumption of 10.8 litres per 100 km on a combined cycle. The dual clutch transmission has previously proved itself to be an ideal accompaniment to more idle pursuits although downshifts in the manual shift mode could be deemed a touch too slow for some.

QUATTRO: Audi's all-wheel drive system with an innovative crown-gear differential.

Besides, there won’t be too much time to fixate on the gearshift when you have the new quattro all wheel drive system at work beneath you.

The new quattro system is quite remarkable. This version of the permanent all-wheel drive system is now fitted with a more compact and lightweight crown-gear centre diff. The system also allows for greater torque distribution between the front and rear axles. Even though the default setting remains biased towards the rear axle (with a 40/60 split), as much as 70 percent can be directed to the front wheels and 85 percent to the rear.

This allows for a car that feels peculiarly neutral when pushing on, even though you get the sense that forces are at play, coaxing the wheels in the intended direction (which may contribute to the car’s “unflappable” sensation).

Getting the ESP to intervene is particularly difficult when using the out-and-out Dynamic mode, which should bring a grin to the faces of those who love to get their kicks at the red line or while going sideways.

If you’re someone who’d just like to go straight, you’d be pleased to know the RS5’s options list is significantly shorter than its siblings – only a handful of options, among them a 280 km/h limiter (R20 500), a sports exhaust system (R13 500), cosmetic and full nappa leather packs, are offered. Everything else you could possibly need, including xenon headlights, tyre pressure monitor and park distance control are standard. The extremely sexy 19-inch wheels are standard, too.

ALL THAT GLISTERS: Matt aluminium accents tastefully adorn the RS5 cabin.

Audi seems bullish about the prospects for its brand in South Africa, and the presence of breathtaking cars such as this will do it no harm. The country is, by the way, among the top three export markets for RS products in the world.

Look, there’s not much to fault on the RS5; as an everyday sports car it is truly fantastic. The sports exhaust system is an option, but the standard exhaust should nevertheless be able to stop traffic. The full leather seats could have been better, but we were told the awesome RS seats on the erstwhile RS4 sedan were deemed a little too snug for use in this car. It’s a big pity.

Audi’s RS5 is a totally different car to the BMW M3 Coupe it will no doubt be compared to. It is exquisitely styled, yes, with just a touch of aggression to set it apart from the company’s other coupes, but its usefulness and drivability (another signature RS quality) are what make the car from Ingolstadt instantly likeable.

Customer deliveries are expected to arrive from the end of November, 2010, and to give you some indication of this car’s latent popularity, all 43 units expected to arrive in South Africa by year end have already been snapped up.


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