Vital Stats

Engine:
4.2L V8
Power:
444 HP / 317 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed DCT
0-60 Time:
4.5 Seconds
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,950 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Tweaked RS5 On Ice Is More Thirst Quenching Than Before



We've admittedly had our share of issues with the approach Audi takes with its RS cars. In theory, "RS" represents the German tradition of heavy-breathing RennSport driving – essentially for cars that can really race. What we have found most often, however, is that the RS more readily approximates a branding exercise that comes sort of close to smacking us upside the head with thrills, but falls short in key ways – especially when Audi has brought us to a track, eagerly awaiting our feedback.

RS models tend to weigh a lot, and the company's Quattro obsession can harm handling while cornering – and it costs a pretty pickle or two to boot. The RS model that finally got us closest to Renn Sportiness was the TT RS (a car that's finally hitting the U.S., having already been savaging European roads since 2009). Then we waited until Spring 2010 and the RS5 that promised us things – wonderful things. The A5 upon which it is based was possessed of the near-perfect rear-biased sports coupe proportions, and the S5 it spawned was a pretty solid piece of work, too, so we were excited to drive it.
After our first drive at the Ascari circuit in southern Spain, we were even a little more encouraged by the RS5 than we had been after our previous track session in the TT RS. Subsequent high-spirited comparison drives on warm and dry surfaces, however, revealed the original 444-horsepower RS5 as no match for the sheer dynamic satisfaction of the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG coupe and BMW M3 coupe. The RS5, even with its improved lighter and quicker-reacting Quattro, simply had too hard a time resisting prodigious amounts of understeer. We were left begging for effortless and soul-stirring oversteer whenever exactly that would have been called for. Everything else on the RS5 is so good that this one bit just made us whiney.

2013 Audi RS5 headlight2013 Audi RS5 rear spoiler2013 Audi RS5 taillight2013 Audi RS5 exhaust tip

There is a trade-off, though, and this new drive of the slightly updated 2013 RS5 in wintry white central Sweden brought this to bear more clearly than any other test could. When the going gets tougher and the drive surface is no longer warm and dry – heck, not even asphalt or earthbound – there may be no other sporting coupe we'd rather be driving. If we hit wet and oily pavement in rainy weather, or perhaps ice on a Swedish lake, we want the RS5 wrapped around us if we still want to have a fast, fun ride.

It's just this sort of opportunity that Audi recently afforded us, too. With the RS5's ESP Sport thresholds in place, Audi Drive Select settings all in Dynamic mode and special 19-inch Finnish studded winter tires at the corners, we were set free on a circuit mapped atop a frozen lake at the Molanda test center near Järpen. And before you berate our evaluation as cheating due to the studded tires, think again – being thusly shod is pretty much law of the land here in the far north. If you are caught having caused – inadvertently or otherwise – any sort of traffic mishap and you don't have proper snow shoes on your wheels, the legal repercussions here are more severe than you might imagine.

2013 Audi RS5 interior2013 Audi RS5 front seats2013 Audi RS5 steering wheel2013 Audi RS5 shifter

After first hauling butt over this same circuit in a slightly dicier A1 Quattro with its small wheelbase, 252-horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, it was time for a turn at the wheel of the RS5, and immediately, the graceful looking two-door was right at home. We've done ice driving circuits in many cars, including an M3, but this was by far the quickest we'd ever settled down and felt completely at ease with the weight-shift + throttle play + steering angle drift ballet required of serious winter driving.

The 4.2-liter naturally aspirated FSI V8 was clearly enamored of this exercise, and it was under these conditions where the quick reactions of the new crown-gear Quattro system were rendered crystal sharp. Regarding feathery throttle work, in Dynamic mode, the linkage's response is perfectly brisk, to the point where less is truly more. At times when we'd shifted to opposite lock too soon for the next apex cone (and the snow bank behind it), we had the satisfaction of flooring it in order to broaden the arc of our ice drift, and the RS5's bigmouth dual Boysen sport exhaust obliged with a satisfying roar that echoed across the lake.

Then there were the 15-inch carbon composite brake discs up front and new-for-2013 "wave" design steel brakes in back, though braking is the last thing you do out here in slippy drift mode. If ever we felt the need, a tap was all that served the purpose to peel off a little lateral momentum from this hurtling 3,950-pounder. Then it was back on the throttle good and hard to enjoy the 317 pound-feet of torque in its 4,000-to-6,000 rpm sweet spot.

2013 Audi RS5 engine

The RS5's most tangible tech change for the 2013 model year is the ditching of a hydraulic power assist steering in favor of an electro-mechanical setup. This is happening all over the European landscape these days due to the need for improved fuel efficiency. While these systems once felt universally synthetic and wonky, they have become better and better through thorough testing. Nowadays, it's not taboo to mention electrically assisted steering when speaking of cutting-edge sports cars. In Sweden under these unusual conditions, the easy action of the RS5's new electric power steering came across as perfectly suited to the drive characteristics on the slide-happy circuit.

Paradoxically, the RS5's 59-percent front, 41-percent rear weight distribution was its biggest asset on our drive. While the distribution of heft is the car's main bugbear on warm, clear pavement, the car's front weight bias proved to be an asset on the frigid Swedish circuit. The 19-inch studded Lappi Winter tires – 245/35 R19 – are owed some credit, certainly, but the Audi's naturally heavy nose and 108.3-inch wheelbase made easy work of making sure that the tail came around at just the right cadence. The weight-shift dance was an easy one to learn in this car.

2013 Audi RS5

Final changes worth a brief mention are the same exterior touches incorporated on the revamped 2013 A5 and S5 models: the new face, single-frame grille with folded top corners, and squintier Clint Eastwood headlights and taillights that are all-LED units. The best news of all? Whereas the pre-facelift RS5 wasn't sold in North America, the updated model should appear in U.S. dealerships by the end of March, with a price tag of around $70,000.

It was good to finally come away delighted with an RS model from our Audi pals. It's just a shame that not everyone gets to test this RS5 coupe's chemistry out here in the ice and snow. Maybe Audi's engineers should strive to make the next-generation RS5 dramatically more rear-biased and not so self-neutralizing in its dynamics. That way, owners on dry pavement can get as excited as we did driving up near Santa's toyshop in RennSport Wonderland.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 110 Comments
      sstowes
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm probably in the minority, but I don't find the front end on this as attractive as it was pre-facelift. It's not UN-attractive; just...not very dramatic. There's no real sense of occasion about it. But every time I see a pre-2013, my heart skips a beat. Seriously one of the most beautiful modern-designed coupes under $100,000. http://www.netcarshow.com/audi/2011-rs5/800x600/wallpaper_05.htm Again, just my opinion, but I wish the front end was a bit closer to the S7. It's the headlights that are really throwing this car off.
        genelamont
        • 2 Years Ago
        @sstowes
        Yeah... they need to figure out the headlight thing and then stick with it.
        Lachmund
        • 2 Years Ago
        @sstowes
        sadly true...the old one looks meaner imo, but i have to admit these facelifts look better in the metal than on pictures
      Justin Campanale
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am seriously considering this car along with the next M3 and the ATS-V (if there is one) to replace my Magnum SRT8.. This car really is a beauty and its specs look competitive. The price is a little high and I'm disappointed at the omission of the manual transmission, but other than that it really looks like a good buy. If BMW dares to even think anout fitting a turbo engine in the M3, and if the ATS-V isn't as good as I would have hoped, this might just find a spot in my garage one day.
        k_m94
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        The next M3 has been pretty much confirmed to have a turbo 6 cylinder engine. I am not sure if they decided on 2 or 3 turbos, and inline or V configuration. Then again, the 1M and new M5 prove that you can make a compelling turbocharged ///M car, although it pains me to see the death of another thrilling high rpm engine like the 4L V8. In that category, the RS5 holds an advantage.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @k_m94
          [blocked]
      JTH
      • 2 Years Ago
      Many good points here and I have to say I agree with most of them. Precisely, why I decided to keep my 09 S5 and spend about the same total 70K, (car plus extras) but putting in a PES supercharger with a water meth system and an AWE exhaust I have 500HP S5 that roars unlike any V6 ever could. Add to that 15" Stop Tech Trophy brakes (also included in the price mentioned), and it is most likely significantly better performing than anything mentioned with the exception of the speed of the GTR. Just my view on it. JTH
      Kepe
      • 2 Years Ago
      What are Lappi winter tires? I'm from Finland and I've never heard of them. The only Finnish tire maker is Nokian renkaat (Nokian tyres, http://www.nokiantyres.com )
        Xedicon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Kepe
        Nokian makes AWESOME bicycle tires, I've always been curious how good their car tires must be!
          ZPrime
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Xedicon
          They are very good as snow/winter tires. I've never used a Nokian for performance. I have Nokian WR gen2 on my car for winter/fall/early spring tires (and I live in the snowbelt of Cleveland OH). I use other stuff in the summer.
      genelamont
      • 2 Years Ago
      Isn't the 4.2 the old V8 started in the 90's? Why don't they use the new 4.0 supercharged V8?
      joejoe590
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ooofff. If I won the lottery tomorrow, this would be on my short list of cars to buy. I love it. Unless I needed to haul the kiddos, this would be my daily driver for sure.
      KAG
      • 2 Years Ago
      Man, how to make a perfect car better. If I had the money I would have had a down payment on it already.
      Jack
      • 2 Years Ago
      WHAT A POS!!! I feel like I've been looking at this designed for 15 years! Just copy and paste the same design over and over, Audi (More Expensive Passat)! And they think they can get $70,000 for this? Why not just buy a Cadillac CTS-V?????????? They're still using that dinosaur FSI 4.2L V8 engine in this POS! Only the SoCal hipster trash could ever find this car appealing.
        ZPrime
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack
        Jack, show me a 2 door Passat and I'll show you a GM car that isn't plastic-feeling in some way. ;)
        Joe K.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack
        Design wise, I don't see what you are seeing. In person, to my eyes, this Audi is a very balanced and beautiful design that will have an appeal for a very long time. Not an over the top design but clean, functional and just aggressive enough. I do agree that the CTS V is a performance comparison that makes this Audi (and many other performance GTs) seem way over priced. The Caddy's interior gest unfairly maligned I believe. The exterior however, looked aggressive and bold a few years ago but seems to be getting stale. All in all, the Audi is definitely a car I would love to own.
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack
        What an idiot.
        Lachmund
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack
        hahaha...feel better now jacky?
        rocketmoose
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack
        A dinosaur engine that makes >100hp/litre? Okay. Keep your pushrods.
          k_m94
          • 2 Years Ago
          @rocketmoose
          More than the CTS-V manages with a roots blower.
        QAZZY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack
        The 4.2L NA 'dinosaur' has a better hp/liter ratio than your supercharged CTS-V.
          AcidTonic
          • 2 Years Ago
          @QAZZY
          It's like knowing you are a really fast runner, easily able to outrun anyone. So you chop off 3 toes on each foot. Now you can only keep up with everyone else and not pass them, but "look everyone, I'm doing it with 2 toes on each foot!!!!" "We're using such advanced technology that we can be really lazy and still only match our competitors performance at best. But we're doing it with 1.0 liter less, ahahahahaha". *crickets*
        joejoe590
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack
        Because I guarantee there won't be more than 3 of these in the whole county. I see CTS-V's everyday. But perfomance wise, the CTS-V is a decent comparison.
        Don Kim
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack
        why CTS-V? are you crazy?
        me
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack
        The 4.2L FSI is one of the top performance engines on the planet even still.
        Truth
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack
        cts-v is fast but is a piece of ****... cant compare german quality to american.
      HemiRoadRunner
      • 2 Years Ago
      Overpriced POS. You've really got to hate your money to pay 70k for this thing.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Trevor
        • 2 Years Ago
        You sound like some southern hick....... Guaranteed your parents were siblings
        ryanandrewmartin
        • 2 Years Ago
        Though that sounds like blind brand loyalty, I am inclined to agree. I'd have a CTS-V before I'd have this.
        Truth
        • 2 Years Ago
        to bad you cant drive the cts-v in the rain
        Adrian Ponce
        • 2 Years Ago
        GM, decent brand. But Audi is so much better -Salesman for Cardinale Audi and GMC
      ken
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am sorry, but if I want a AWD automatic sportcar, why don't I buy the GT-R?
        jtav2002
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ken
        Maybe because you want a more luxury oriented car rather than smash your skull against the headrest performance. Or maybe it's because you don't want to spend $30k more. An RS5 vs. GTR is a retarded comparison.
        Hugo Hurtado
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ken
        Because: 1. this a way more stylish looking car. 2. this is a Nissan, not a premium brand like Audi with that said, these are two different cars, meant for different type of buyes, the GTR is a hell of a car, but its main emphasis is on performance rather than stylish good looks (like the Audi)
        AcidTonic
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ken
        Google "Evotech RS8 vs GTR". Talk about a heavy led sled that can move out. 750hp with over 5000lbs but absolutely nothing can keep up once it gets moving. I would take a GTR too but the video is cool only for how quiet the race is once the dude rolls his window up. He's like GO!!!! and you hear this crazy engine roaring from the GTR next to it. Then he starts rolling the window up and once it seals all the sound just stops and it's almost silent. Then he comes cruising up on the GTR which ate from a stop simply due to less weight and passes the GTR like it's not even moving. Sure everything he races gets the jump in the 1/8th, but he comes wailing by before the 1/4th is over. Love it.
    • Load More Comments
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