Vocally speaking, if the outgoing Audi RS 5 was a booming baritone, the latest version of the iconic sports coupe is a cocky, if at times shrill, tenor and, as has been suggested, maybe not to everyone’s liking.
Blame the substitution of the sonorous sound of the ‘old’ V8 with a new-generation star-in-the-making twin-turbo V6 that works in a higher register. Traditionally, baritones can be packing a bit of beef, unlike tenors who, because they get the girl, are usually trim, taut and terrific.
The same can be said about the old and new Audi RS 5, with the all-new coupe being the first RS to make use of the new MLBevo chassis architecture and, together with a new suspension layout front and back, is up to 60 kg lighter than before.
The Audi RS 5 Coupe 2.9 TFSI quattro tiptronic, to give it its full title, comes to market at $156,600, $900 less than the outgoing car. But, as tested, also incorporated a carbon and black styling package, consisting of front spoiler, sill extension inserts, rear spoiler and diffuser insert and exterior mirror housings in carbon, adding $10,900 to the price.
The whole thing was finished off in Sonoma green metallic ($1846), an exclusive paint available for the RS 5 Coupé, carbon fibre roof ($4900) and carbon engine compartment cover ($1200). However, main focus of the day during a drive on a selection of Targa Tasmania roads, was the new motor.
The all-new Audi-developed 2.9 TFSI V6 twin turbocharged motor offers exceptional power – 331 kW and 600 Nm of torque, the latter up 170 Nm on the previous model, across a band from 1900 to 5000 rpm – together with a unique orchestral RS accompaniment. Audi says the zero-to-100 km/h comes up in 3.9 seconds.
The unit’s two turbochargers sit between the cylinder banks, the air flowing to turbochargers and travelling the short distance to the combustion chambers through a dual-branch system. The result is spontaneous response to the accelerator pedal.
Meanwhile, the combustion process with central direct injection represents a new level of efficiency among RS models, allowing for more efficient combustion and increased engine efficiency. In the combined urban / highway cycle the maker claims the V6 biturbo consumes just 8.8 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres, corresponding to 199 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre – 16 per cent better than the previous model.
The prodigious power is put to ground via an eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission with shift times designed to deliver a constant stream of power to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.
In normal driving, torque is divided 40:60 to the front and rear axles, offering dynamic handling with optimal traction. In spirited driving up to 85 per cent of torque can be routed to the rear wheels for sporty handling. A sport differential transfers torque to the rear wheel with most traction, aiding powerful acceleration out of corners.
These sporty characteristics are backed up by an updated five-link suspension on the front axle, while at the rear, a five-link system replaces the trapezoidal-link suspension on the previous model, of benefit during sporty driving. It also adds significantly to ride comfort.
Drivers can make their driving experience more personal with ‘individual’, ‘dynamic’ or ‘comfortable’ modes through the standard Audi drive select system. If that’s not enough, an RS sport suspension with Dynamic Ride Control can be optioned with the new RS 5 Coupé sitting much lower than the production model. Audi also offers ceramic brakes and dynamic steering with RS-specific tuning.
During the test run, the drive select worked best in ‘comfort’ mode, ‘dynamic’ producing a far too stiff driving experience best left for track days. Superb acceleration of the RS Coupe held no fears when overtaking. There was little that held us up even on narrow, twisting roads.
Corners were navigated with just as much confidence, the car remaining flat to the bitumen in response even to the most testing steering inputs. Braking had the coupe coming to a halt to order.
Inspired by distinctive racing details of the Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO, designers have imbued the new RS 5 Coupe’s front with massive air inlets with the honeycomb structure typical of RS models. The single-frame grille is much wider and flatter than in the base model.
Out back is an RS-specific diffuser insert, oval tailpipes and a surface-mounted spoiler lip. The RS 5 Coupé rolls on 20-inch wheels, available in a variety of designs. At 4723 mm long, the car is 74 mm longer than the previous model, providing ample rear leg room for an average-height person.
Luxury with a sporty edge is the theme of the new Audi RS 5 Coupé cabin. Limited to four occupants, families need not despair, the RS 4 Avant (wagon) is just around the corner, at a guess, for roughly the same price.
RS sport seats feature honeycomb stitching in fine Nappa leather and the flat-bottom RS multifunction sport steering wheel adds to the character of the high-performance coupe.
RS logos can be found on seats, steering wheel, door sill trims and the gear selector lever, while unique RS displays in the Audi virtual cockpit provide information on tyre pressure, torque and g-forces. A shift light prompts the driver to shift up on reaching the rev limit.
As with all vehicles of premium quality the Audi RS 5 Coupe is complemented by standard infotainment features such as the Audi virtual cockpit, Audi connect, smartphone interface and DAB+ digital radio, as well as a high-end Bang & Olufsen 3-D sound system.
While on the subject of sound, V8 buffs may feel cheated at the absence of the old RS resonance, I defy any sports car enthusiast not to smile with the V6 on full song under urging, together with the glorious bra-a-a-p on downshifts. They’re worth the price of admission.
AT A GLANCE
Audi RS 5 Coupe 2.9 TFSI quattro tiptronic $156,600
Carbon and black styling package $10,900
Technik package $3900
As driven $179,346
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.