Audi Sport admits to underrating Audi RS5 performance figures

We’ve always had the assumption that Audi Sport was being a bit too humble when it came to its cars’ performance. For instance, an Audi RS6 Avant Performance is claimed to sprint from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds. That’s very fast and impressive for a wagon. Except for the fact that it can beat a Nissan GT-R in a quarter-mile drag race. The GT-R is claimed to hit 60 mph in 2.8 seconds. So do the math. The same seems to go for the new Audi RS5, a car whose performance figures may be criminally underrated.

Audi’s Head of Technical Development Stephan Reil recently spoke with Car Advice about this very issue:

“I’ve been in this job for nearly 20 years, and with all the cars I’ve worked on, the performance numbers we published were conservative. And it’s no different with the latest RS5.

“So, if we say 3.9 seconds, you will measure, maybe, 3.7 if the conditions are fine, probably 3.8, but even under the worst conditions, you’ll do it in 3.9 seconds. But you will not find a 4.0.”

That’s a typically German habit of underrating power and performance figures. I remember a BMW M engineer talking about how its horsepower figures were rated for the worst case conditions, so that’s basically the least amount of power the car would have. Which would make some sense, as every time you see an Audi Sport, BMW M or Mercedes-AMG car put on a dyno, they always end up boasting far more power than the factory claimed.

Audi does have a good reason for underrating its performance figures, though. The Germans would rather under-promise and over-deliver than vice versa. “I simply don’t want to hear, when you guys write ‘well, they claim 3.9, but we got 4.0’,” Reil told Car Advice “I don’t want to read that.”

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We can appreciate that and now really, really want to test the new Audi RS5 and see what it can really do.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.