There is a special class of sports automobile for the successful and discerning gentleman.
A small, lightweight sportscar like a Toyota 86 or Mazda MX-5 won’t do. They want something more luxurious and more stately. Ferraris or Lamborghinis are way too flashy; they just don’t want that much attention. Neither will a big saloon car like Mercedes E-Class or a BMW 5-Series fit the bill; they’re too fatherly or rather, grandfatherly.
What they really want is a powerful, enjoyable grand tourer coupe. That’s where cars like the BMW M4, Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe, Lexus RC F, and this new, second generation Audi RS5 come in.
When Audi took the covers off the 2018 RS5 Coupe at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show, there was bit of a shock. It came out with a smaller engine; two cylinders less, to be exact. And with less heft as well, weighing 60kg less.
There’s an old saying that less is more, and we’re going to find out just how true that is with the new RS5 Coupe. More fun with two less cylinders? Let’s see.
When it made its debut, then Audi Sport head honcho Stephan Winkelmann described the car as the gran turismo of the RS lineup. While it’s quite a debatable term, Audi Sport did manage to transform the sleek B9 platform A5 into a rather well-chiseled muscular sports coupe.
It evokes a very aggressive stance thanks to the lowered stance, minimal wing and 19-inch wheels. The angry front face is a combination of blacked-out matrix LED headlamps, a large honeycomb ‘Singleframe’ grill and massive air intakes on the bumper. The rear gets a revised bumper to house large dual tailpipes and a diffuser, and is finished off by a lip spoiler on the trunk. Which is in every sense what a grand tourer should be.
Open the doors and you are welcomed by a very well-designed, smart and handsome interior. The combination of silver contrast stitching and carbon fiber elements give it a very tasteful sporting appeal. The look is finished off by a flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather. The layout is very ergonomic as controls are easy to find and operate. The seat design follows the honeycomb pattern and is accented by contrast stitching making it very unique. The front buckets can be adjusted electronically and very comfortable in traffic. And oh, did I mention that the front seats also come with a rather proper massage function?
Local units are spec’d with Bang & Olufsen audio as standard and it gets smartphone connectivity through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto or good ol’ Bluetooth. The rear seats are nice and comfortable, with good head and leg room for adult occupants. It’s also got a voluminous trunk, 40/20/40 split folding rear seatbacks in case you decide to buy something rather large.
As we mentioned earlier, it loses the normally-aspirated 4.2-liter V8 in favor of a new Porsche-developed 2.9-liter V6 twin-turbo, also found in the Panamera 4S. Its power output is actually the same as the V8 with 450 PS with 100 Newton meters more torque to 600 Nm from 1,900 rpm to 5,000 rpm.
The RS5 was very responsive in nearly all driving conditions, thanks to the efficient twin turbos which allow max torque at a relatively lowly 1,900 rpm. Just mash the throttle and unleash the beast. Response can however be toned down in ‘comfort’ mode that you can even drive your granny around town and she wouldn’t complain. Switching on ‘dynamic’ gives better response, a (slightly) louder exhaust note and more aggressive rear diff settings; something really enjoyable on the track, open road or twisties. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of such. Having driven the car during the busy mid-December hustle, I kept it mostly on ‘auto’ to get the best of both worlds. It wasn’t boring at all.
Audi also ditched the 7-speed dual-clutch auto for a new 8-speed ZF-sourced automatic transmission with paddle shifters. It’s surprisingly smooth, quick to the shift, and perfectly matched with the powertrain.
In terms of handling, it took on bends and turns with ease. Thanks to a well-engineered chassis, quattro all-wheel-drive, and the torque-vectoring rear differential, it makes you a more confident driver. Ride-wise it as civilized as it gets with 19-inchers wrapped with low profile UHP tires. The adaptive suspension gives a bit more help with comfort mode on. But if you’re looking for something softer, a sports coupe might not be for you. Get yourself a driver while you’re at it. Stopping power is more than adequate with the large cross-drilled rotors combined with 6-pot front calipers in front and cross-drilled rear discs with single piston calipers.
The Audi RS5 is actually quite a practical car for its class. Something you don’t normally read or hear about a high-performance premium sports coupe. It’s fast, and it can carry people, golf bags, luggage, grocery, and perhaps a new mid-sized screen flat panel TV, if you’re really excited to hook it up.
In my youth, I wanted sports hatchbacks like the Honda Civic Type R or coupes like the Nissan Silvia. But my tastes, apparently, have changed. This RS5, gentlemanly as it is, is much more to my liking.