Skid Marks

Audi RS5: advancement through technology

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Audi is an automotive company truly driven by technology. It pioneered the first serial production performance all-wheel drive for motorsport rather than for agriculture.

It partnered this with a unique five-cylinder turbo engine in the original Audi Ur Quattro Coupe that won the World Rally Championship in the 80s.

How about the R10 TDI LMP1 car, the first diesel-powered winner at Le Mans? Or the R18 TDI Ultra LMP, the first hybrid-diesel powered winning vehicle at Le Mans?

How about turbocharged direct fuel injection for gasoline engines?

Or a hotside-inside turbocharged engine that places the turbo in the valley of the V-configuration for better packaging on mass-produced cars?

Or piezo electric crystals for CRDi injection? Laser lights on a production car?

And we can’t miss out the aluminum space frame, and aluminum-intensive chassis on more plebeian Audi models.

You get my point? Audi is always at the forefront of technology.

While its motorsports exploits were legendary, many of their road cars fell a bit flat.

The bi-turbo V10 Audi RS6? Insanely fast in a straight line, but required monumental effort to grip when deviating from the straight line.

The first Audi TT? Lift-off oversteer heaven, especially at highway speeds.

The previous V8 Audi RS5? A nose-heavy boat that required an obscenely stiff suspension (which killed ride quality) to prevent it from understeering straight off of a cliff (or going off track, as a high-powered telco executive in the country famously experienced on a track-day years ago).

These Audis went like stink on a straight line, but could barely corner in extremis.

Today though, things are changing.

Perforated leather on the steering wheel and diamond quilted seats reflect a classy, comfortable and intimate environment.

Enter Audi’s latest RS5 coupé. Gone is the gloriously sounding V8 it shared with the R8 sports car. In comes a new V6 engine with twin turbos nestled deep within the valley of the V6. It’s 20 kg lighter than the V8.

Power checks in at 444 hp, same as the previous V8, but torque clocks in with 600 Newton meters, far more than the previous 430 Nm the V8 could muster.

Boost truly is better. It rides atop the VAG Group’s new MLB modular and scaleable chassis architecture shared with the A4, A5, A6, A6, A7 and Q7.

Power is sent to all four wheels via the now almost industry-standard ZF 8-speed automatic, with more rear axle bias, giving the RS5 a very sporty, yet still very composed and confident feel.

Power delivery is almost instant: the torque peaks from 1,900 rpm, and power comes fully online at 6,700 rpm, 1,550 rpm lower than the V8, making the RS5 more relaxed at cruise, but also more energetic and responsive.

Vehicle functions via Audi’s intuitive MMI system

Overall, the new RS5 is roughly 60 kg lighter than its predecessor, which helps it go, stop and steer better.

Plus, it delivers far better fuel efficiency than the V8. I got almost 10 km/liter on a tight new engine on my weekly sojourn down south, and roughly 6 km/liter in the city.

The old V8 could barely manage past 5 km/liter, regardless of where and how I was driving.

The Quattro all-wheel drive system defaults to 60 percent rear torque bias, and 40 percent front, making the RS5 feel lively, but still safe on the limit.

It’s quite easy to probe its limits, and the torque vectoring means those limits are very high indeed, allowing a bit of tail-out action before the fun is reigned in.

The steering feel, previously an Audi weakness, feels great: accurate, feel-some but on the light side, in terms of heft.

Ride comfort is still excellent with 20-inch wheels.

The standard massive 6-piston front and 4-piston rear calipers mated to pizza-sized steel brake discs offer prodigious retardation with fade-free performance, but there’s still a hint of being over-assisted, making it a tad sensitive if it’s your first time driving it.

Ride comfort is excellent: there’s a suppleness you don’t expect when you see the massive 20-inch wheels.

Tram-lining with very wide 275-width tires is also not a concern, thankfully.

Click the Audi drive select into dynamic mode, however, and the ride can get choppy on all but the smoothest of roads.

Inside, it’s very rich and luxurious. Diamond quilted seats, perforated leather on the steering wheel, and loads of soft-touch materials inside mean you’re in a very classy, comfortable and intimate environment.

A virtual cockpit LCD screen is present, alongside another LCD screen displaying vehicle functions.

Audi’s virtual cockpit LCD screen is present, alongside another LCD screen displaying vehicle functions via Audi’s intuitive MMI system.

Safety is always paramount in a high-tech Audi, so you get ABS-EBD brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control and multiple front, side and curtain airbags too.

On the highway, the RS5 just flows beautifully. It loves the open road, and the V6 still offers that unique turbocharged whine, overlaid with a trade-mark direct injected exhaust pop on gear change.

On winding roads, left in comfort mode, there’s enough firmness to keep the car well in-control, while providing the compliance over less than ideal provincial roads.

Twin turbos nestled deep within the valley of the V6

Rain or shine, the Quattro just keeps gripping. There’s none of that nose-heavy, heavy-handed, ham-fisted, brutish persona of its V8 predecessor, which had almost no poise and finesse compared to this new one.

Overall, the RS5 is a highly impressive package. Rapid driving for long distances is its forte, rather than manic on-track driving (which it can still do).

The turbocharged engine, the rear-biased Quattro all-wheel drive, the plush interior, and of course, the aggressively Germanic styling—truly, technology has improved the RS5, making it the car it should have always been: fast, efficient, plush and truly engaging to drive.

It’s a properly well-sorted, well-balanced precision machine for devouring great distances rapidly and enjoyably.



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