It’s been awhile since we’ve read about the Audi RS5. It’s now starting to make its rounds through the U.S. media and Car and Driver is the latest to take the new, second-gen RS5 for a spin. So what do they think?
Well, they have the same sorts of praise and complaints that everyone else has. Because the new Audi RS5 ditches the previous car’s 4.2 liter V8 in favor of a 2.9 liter twin-turbocharged V6 and that’s at the center of the car’s success and failure. Rather than the high-strung, spine-tingling nature of the 4.2 liter V8, the new twin-turbo V6 is torquey, punchy and much more efficient, both in terms of fuel economy and power delivery.
In fact, the new Audi RS5, despite having a much smaller engine, is actually more powerful. It makes 450 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, the latter figure being 126 lb-ft more than the old car’s. That makes it much quicker from 0-60 mph, doing the spring in around 3.7 seconds, rather than 4.2 seconds. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more fun. It’s faster, performs better and is much quicker, point-to-point in the real world, thanks to its more accessible torque figure. However, this new blown-six lacks the noise and the response that made the old V8 so incredible.
It’s also remarkably refined. The previous car was a bit brash, with stiff suspension and a lot of noise. This new one is quiet, extraordinarily so, and its suspension is luxury car-comfortable. It’s in no way the brash, angry sports car that it used to be. Instead, it’s more of a stylish grand tourer. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different.
One interesting bit from C&D’s review has to do with the steering. Most journalists and enthusiasts complain that the new RS5’s steering is too numb and a bit unnerving thanks to its variable ratio “Dynamic Steering” rack. And that’s likely true (even if the old car’s steering wasn’t exactly as good as a classic 911’s either), however, it’s interesting to know that it gets much better when set in Dynamic mode. Not because the steering weight increases but because it sets the variable ratio rack into a fixed ratio, which makes the steering feel much more predictable and accurate.
What’s nice about that is Audi offers an Individual setting, which lets you set the steering to Dynamic but keep everything else in other settings, as you please.
Overall, the Audi RS5 Coupe is an incredibly fast, very high performance machine that looks great, has a lovely cabin and is surprisingly comfortable. But it lacks the sort of fizz that its predecessor had. Does that make it worse? Maybe just different.