Audi has been riding quite a streak of winners lately, whether we’re talking amazing street cars like the R8, or 24-Hours of LeMans racing domination. And they’ve been sneaking more and more performance into their every day street cars as well with models like the S4 and S7. But even though we knew Audi would try to take it to the next level, even we weren’t expecting anything quite like this, the RS5.
Let the comparisons begin, as the 2013 Audi RS 5 jumps head first into the sports coupe fray where the likes of the BMW M3 and the Cadillac CTS-V ply their trade.
Well in order to compete with the best, you’ve got to look your best and the RS 5’s exterior mods may not jump out at you at first, but they are many and they are purposeful.
Starting with a ride height that’s eight-tenths of an inch lower than the A5, thanks to the revised, mostly aluminum suspension setup. The front end sports a unique take on Audi’s Singleframe grille with gray honeycomb and matte aluminum finish, while the front bumper gets a splitter-like treatment. 19-inch forged alloy wheels are standard, but you can opt for these 20’s; and behind them are wave-style brake rotors, which may not be new to you if you’ve got a high performance sport-bike, but they’re certainly a novelty in the car world. Big, oval exhaust tips bookend a redesigned rear bumper, and out of the deck lid, a spoiler deploys automatically at 75 miles-per-hour.
This car is without a doubt the real performance car deal, and further proof of that lies under the hood, where you’ll find a red and carbon fiber accented, normally aspirated 4.2 liter V8. Ratings are impressive; 450-horsepower, that’s 20 more than an earlier version in the exotic R8, and 317 lb-ft. of torque. It certainly likes to rev, and propels you around the track in a big hurry. And even though the RS 5 does feel a bit big, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as weighty as its true 2-ton weight.
Audi’s Drive Select adjusts a ton of vehicle settings from steering feel and transmission shifting to throttle response and even the sound of the exhaust. Dynamic mode helps the car stay mostly flat in corners, and Individual setting allows you to program and quickly recall a custom setup.
The electro-mechanical steering may not be as good as some, but it provided adequate feel for our track work. And throughout our testing the RS 5 proved to be a blast to drive and way more capable than we anticipated, and it sounds splendid while doing so.
The latest version of Audi’s rear-biased Quattro all-wheel-drive features torque vectoring and an updated crown-gear center differential to help allocate power to where it can be most effective. The wave-style brake rotors we mentioned provided great feel and short stopping distances, but there was some tail end lightness on hard braking. You can upgrade further to carbons discs for even more performance.
Top speed is electronically limited to 174 miles-per-hour, and you’ll see 110 of those at the end of the quarter-mile which takes 12.7-seconds to complete. And you can rocket to 60 in just 4.3 seconds. Launch control requires a firm step on the brake, but once it’s off, you’re off…in a flash. Gear selection happens automatically; with the dual-clutch S-tronic transmission having 7 to choose from. Or, of course you can trigger them yourself with the steering wheel mounted shifters. Still, a true manual choice would have been preferred.
Regardless, you will enjoy this car’s thrust in one of the classiest performance interiors going. Well done RS 5 updates include Nappa leather sport seats with gray piping, unique steering wheel, carbon-fiber and satin metal trim, as well as a new gauge package with track specific data screens added to the info center. Most interior functions are carried out by Audi’s MMI system, including managing the dynamic performance settings. It’s a big step up from the already impressive S5, and cool features like a lap timer push it over the top.
Like most modern performance machines, the RS 5 feels practically sedate on the street, but with a purposefulness to it that deposits it above the common sports coupe. Indeed, the exhaust note is as close to an American muscle car as you can get, but with a hint of German refinement that makes it sound more authoritative than aggressive.
But pricing is at a definite premium over any pony car, and most of its competition as well, starting at $69,795. Both the M3 and CTS-V Coupe start for a few grand less.
It was very easy to be impressed with the 2013 Audi RS 5, as it clearly continues Audi’s streak of winners. It is a serious performance coupe that comes with an easy to drive nature that requires no special skills to enjoy driving it, or to look good while doing so. Add in a burly V8 that hits all the right notes when it comes to making sweet auto-muscle music, and you’ve got a blockbuster hit ready to rocket up the charts.
Engine: 4.2 liter V8
Torque: 317 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.3 seconds
1/4 mile: 12.7 seconds @ 110 mph