Vital Stats

Engine:
4.2L V8
Power:
450 HP / 317 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed DCT
0-60 Time:
4.5 Seconds
Top Speed:
174 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,009 LBS
Seating:
2+2
MPG:
18 City / 23 HWY
Base Price:
$68,900
Enjoying The Romance, Not Yet Convinced About A Commitment



I imagine spending time with a sexy sports coupe is similar to a first date with a supermodel. Before she arrives, there's a buildup of excitement mixed with nervous anticipation. Even though the background work is done, there are many concerns and unanswered questions about how the two of you will get along. What about compatibility, engagement and dynamics?

The big day arrives, and you answer the door to find her waiting in the driveway wearing a form-fitting Misano Red Pearl dress and sleek Anthracite stilettos. As you shake your head in disbelief, you swear she just winked her... ah... xenon headlight at you.

Relax big boy, you've been fantasizing about the 2013 Audi RS5. Like all of its German counterparts, Audi sells its A5 coupe and cabriolet in several different flavors. All share the same basic chassis, and most of the cabin appointments, but mechanically they are all a few yards apart. And each is distinguished by its individual performance envelope.

2013 Audi RS5 side view2013 Audi RS5 front view2013 Audi RS5 rear view

Seated at the top of the hierarchy is this RS5, with a base price of $69,795.

The entry-level model, known as the standard A5 2.0T, is fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four rated at 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It starts at $38,745 (all pricing includes Audi's $895 destination charge), and that buys ownership of a well-respected coupe. The performance-oriented S5, one nice leap up the ladder, arrives with a supercharged 3.0-liter six rated at 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Its base price of $51,795 will further thin the wallet, but the investment is well worth it.

Seated at the top of the hierarchy is this RS5, with a base price of $69,795. The enthusiast-tuned coupe boasts a naturally aspirated 4.2-liter eight-cylinder rated at 450 hp and 317 lb-ft. Unlike its siblings, offered with manual or automatic gearboxes, the all-aluminum direct-injected engine is mated to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. Matching its siblings, power is sent to all four wheels through the automaker's famed Quattro all-wheel-drive system, with a torque split that generally sends 60 percent rearward, to improve driving dynamics. The RS5, however, gains a rear sport differential to ensure that traction is maintained regardless of how hard it is pushed.

2013 Audi RS5 grille2013 Audi RS5 headlight2013 Audi RS5 rear spoiler2013 Audi RS5 taillight

Compared to the standard A5, or even the upgraded S5, the ominous RS5 takes its physical appearance to a whole different level.

But the RS5 isn't just a powertrain upgrade. Audi's Quattro GmbH division – the automaker's in-house tuning department – has given the entire vehicle a nice massage from the tip of its nose to its gunmetal tailpipes. Aesthetically, the RS5 wears much more aggressive attire when compared to its lesser siblings. The front fascia of our Misano Red pearl effect tester, optioned with the $2,500 Titanium package (exterior mirror housings in body color, black trim and 20-inch graphite-colored wheels) featured a sinister blacked-out trapezoidal grille and matching lower intakes. The only brightwork on the nose was found at the bottom, where a thin aluminum strip added just the right amount of contrast. This beauty was also equipped with Audi's $1,000 Sport Exhaust system with black finishers, meaning its derriere was devoid of anything shiny – just two massive oval pipes beneath a dark lower valance. One other mention is the retractable rear spoiler, an RS5 exclusive. Compared to the standard A5, or even the upgraded S5, the ominous RS5 takes its physical appearance to a whole different level.

Mechanically, the RS5 shares the same basic five-link front suspension and independent trapezoidal-link rear suspension as its kin. However, dampers and springs have been upgraded for its higher-performance mission and the ride height lowered to reduce body roll. The brakes have also received an upgrade, with eight-piston monobloc front calipers and single-piston sliding rear calipers over vented and drilled rotors. Standard wheels are 19-inch alloys, but our model had the aforementioned 20-inch five-blade units wrapped in sticky 275/30R20 summer rubber.

2013 Audi RS5 badge2013 Audi RS5 wheel detail2013 Audi RS5 brakes2013 Audi RS5 brake caliper

Inside the cabin, Audi has treated the RS5 to a few additional magic touches that include a special three-spoke flat-bottom multi-function steering wheel, RS design carbon fiber inlays, black headliner and upgraded Nappa leather. The twelve-way front sport bucket seats, embossed with the RS5 logo, are the icing on the cake.

The most significant difference is that the US variant doesn't get the company's trick dynamic suspension.

Audi introduced the RS5 at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, but it didn't arrive on our shores until last year as a 2013 model. Tweaked slightly from its European counterpart, the most significant difference is that the US variant doesn't get the company's trick dynamic suspension. Keeping us Americans smiling, though, Audi has also altered spring rates to improve the ride, revised transmission tuning to speed up shifts and added variable-ratio electric power steering to increase fuel economy.

Whether one is staring at the pictures or reading the specification sheet, Audi's RS5 comes across as gloriously spectacular. But those two attributes only make a good museum display – engagement, performance and refinement are what matter to the enthusiast. After a week-long date, let's just say she left me breathless.

2013 Audi RS5 driving2013 Audi RS5 driving2013 Audi RS5 driving

Audi's Multi-Media Interface is rather slick once the operator becomes acclimated with how it works.

The driving position is just about perfect, with the operator and front passenger coddled by matching deeply bolstered bucket seats. Both hands rest comfortably on the thick flat-bottom steering wheel that's wrapped in perforated leather with wheel-mounted paddle controls just behind each side spoke. The black carbon fiber trim paired with the black leather interior meant my tester's cabin was dark and businesslike, but everyone who rode inside seemed to like it. The splashes of real aluminum encircling the vents, window switches and buttons provided a nice contrast and were often noticed by passengers.

We've covered the ergonomics and second row seating of the A5/S5 before, but a couple of points deserve mention. First, Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI) is rather slick once the operator becomes acclimated with how it works. It comes complete with its own subscription data plan, cloud-based mapping stream from Google and WiFi connectivity for multiple devices inside the car. MMI is quick, easy to navigate and the screen contrast is excellent. Second, the RS5 is technically a four-passenger coupe. However, I found that few people will enjoy spending a lot of time in the second row, as legroom is negligible behind any front passengers over six feet tall (I'm six-foot two-inches, and few dared sit behind me). My youngest found the back seats bearable, but only because she sat with her legs Indian-style on the cushion.

2013 Audi RS5 interior2013 Audi RS5 front seats2013 Audi RS5 rear seats2013 Audi RS5 infotainment system

The optional Sport Exhaust is a must-have purchase.

Key fob in pocket, the engine fires quickly after pressing the aluminum start/stop button on the center console. It soon settles to idle as a smooth burble rumbling from the rear. Without any question, the optional Sport Exhaust is a must-have purchase, as the music coming from the tailpipes is refined and never raspy. As expected, Audi has fitted the RS5 with its Drive Select system that allows the operator to choose one of three settings (Comfort, Auto or Dynamic) to alter the steering, transmission, differential and engine response. Being an adrenaline junkie and wanting to enjoy the coupe in its rawest form, I chose Dynamic mode and never touched the switch again.

The RS5 is plenty quick, as it should be. Audi quotes a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 174 miles per hour. It feels more spirited than that, especially since its smooth engine will willingly run all the way to its 8,500-rpm cutoff effortlessly. Everyone it seems, even Audi, is going with forced induction these days, yet this wonderful V8 is a throaty reminder of just how good a well-sorted naturally aspirated engine can be. (Trivia: The R8 V8 and RS5 are both fitted with 4.2-liter V8 engines, but the engine in the RS5 is more advanced, more powerful and the two share little common componentry.)

2013 Audi RS5 engine

It would be even better with a manual gearbox. Sadly, that isn't in the cards.

Audi's dual-clutch gearbox does a satisfying job staying ahead of the game too. Shifts are crisp and timely in auto mode, and the transmission responds well to manual input when the paddles are pulled. For the most part, I let the computer make the decisions and didn't find myself cursing under my breath at its choices even once. As mentioned, the naturally aspirated engine is a real screamer that enjoys tempting its limiter, though it would be even better with a manual gearbox. Sadly, that isn't in the cards.

Going fast is easy, but the RS5 stops well, too. The rotors are eye-catching and a bit gimmicky (watch the Short Cut video to learn more about Audi's "wave" rotors), but they do their job. They effectively stopped the two-ton coupe effortlessly, under every on-road condition I threw at them. That said, I still won't sign off on them until I've had a chance try the Audi on a track and determine how well they hold up under severe abuse.

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2013 Audi RS5

To put its agility to the test, I headed over to my favorite deserted California canyon road over which I have traveled hundreds of times. Empty of traffic and with the corners memorized like the creases on the back of my hands, I was able to focus purely on the RS5's driving dynamics.

The weight distribution of the flagship RS5 is nose-heavy and this shows its ugliness as understeer.

Overall, I was extremely pleased. My concerns over the electrically assisted power steering proved moot, worry-free, and there was an insane amount of available grip as I pushed the coupe into countless turns. Audi's Quattro system is magical, especially when strong power is applied mid-corner and the long two-door just hunkers down and pulls. I pushed harder and harder, and my confidence grew exponentially with each turn of the wheel. The RS5 was stable, competent and very engaging to drive. And that exhaust note sure was sweet, too.

But all was not blissful, as I had traveled the road about a month earlier in a standard A5 2.0T Quattro. That coupe was about 328 pounds lighter on the scale and about $30,000 lighter on the wallet. My recollection was that the smaller four-cylinder engine was slower around the corners, but provided much better overall chassis balance – even though the mass of its engine is placed forward of the front axle – meaning the lesser model was almost neutral at the limit. The weight distribution of the flagship RS5 is nose-heavy (58 percent front/42 percent rear) and this shows its ugliness as understeer. At the limit, I could feel the front tires, supporting more than a ton of mass, chewing at the pavement. It was not a deal breaker, but it did leave me scratching my head.

2013 Audi RS5 rear 3/4 view

Just before the sun dropped below the ridge, I pulled over and stopped at a wide overlook. After unfastening my belt, I climbed out and walked 30 feet away before turning around and looking back at the red two-door. Warm rays reflected off her paint, her glass glistened and the sunlight caught her curves just right. Yes, the Audi RS5 really is an exotic supermodel.

The Audi RS5 really is an exotic supermodel.

How many other coupes turn heads as they carve a path down the road, leaving fingers pointing in their direction? How many other coupes are fitted with a naturally aspirated jewel of an engine that delivers power in a manner as silky as its exhaust note? How many other coupes offer build quality and interior appointments that are first-rate, and boast infotainment systems that are nothing short of innovative? In a typical crowd, the RS5 has no peer.

But look beyond the typical crowd, and one realizes that there are a handful of other supermodels on the market. And, each appeals with its own special talents. BMW offers the perfectly balanced rear-wheel-drive M3, while Mercedes-Benz sells its burly, and arguably over-engineered C63 AMG. And, nobody can overlook the supercharged tire-shredding CTS-V Coupe from Cadillac.

Asking me which of those I would I choose over the other is rather unfair – I'd argue that each is brilliant in its own mission. But without question, I'd ardently beg the stunning and alluring Audi RS5 for a very long second date.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 135 Comments
      Eta Carinae
      • 1 Year Ago
      @Michael Harley.....i like the fact that you stay active on your posting here on autoblog....it makes your writings more note worthy since you can give viable feed to your bloggers...with that being said a 0-60 time of 4.5 ?!? the larger 14' CTS is said to be doing the same with 420 HP, 2 more doors, more space, and most likely cost less......fill me in
        Michael Harley
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Eta Carinae
        I enjoy the interaction! The RS5 is quicker to 60 mph than the 4.5 seconds we quoted from the automaker (MT clocked it at 4.3 seconds). All-wheel drive helps its launch, but its higher curb weight hurts once rolling. While horsepower is horsepower, turbocharged horsepower (CTS) provides more impressive 0-60 times as torque is usually higher (e.g., the RS5 only has 317 pound-feet, while the CTS will have 430 pound-feet). - Mike
          CarNutMike
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Michael Harley
          I find that mega-quick cars just minimize my enjoyment time. Even my 996 GT3 was "too" quick. 3rd gear went to 114mph! You could wind it through 1st and 2nd, then you were at serious ticket velocity. My 360 is both slower AND more fun. 3rd takes you to 99@8500rpm so you can spin it most of the way through 3 gears and stay out of jail. A Z06 goes 60mph in first gear. That's both amusing and useless in the real world.
          jtc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Michael Harley
          Mike - Do you think us readers get overly focused on 0-60 times? Geesh. I see it can be helpful to seperate a 4.5 second car from a 7.0 second car - but now it 4.3 vs 4.5. Measures and Metrics are great but seems 0-60 is becoming (maybe always has) too heavily weighted. JMHO.
      oRenj9
      • 1 Year Ago
      An observation I've made about car reviews lately... If the car has a dual-clutch: "we wish it had a manual;" if the car is a manual: "we wish the car had a dual clutch setup." RE: RS5. The reviewer is wrong about the A5 having the engine mounted behind the front wheels. The 2.0L engine is mounted longitudinally in the exact same location as the V6 and V8. It certainly does have better weight distribution, being significantly lighter, but all of that weight is fore of the front wheels regardless of size.
        Michael Harley
        • 1 Year Ago
        @oRenj9
        Correct re engine placement. I've edited the story. "My recollection was that the smaller four-cylinder engine was slower around the corners, but provided much better overall chassis balance – even though the mass of its engine is placed forward of the front axle – meaning the lesser model was almost neutral at the limit." - Mike
        jtc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @oRenj9
        I really enjoy Mikes reviews - great writer. But I agree - the \"would be better with a manual\" has run its course. Appears almost forced to satisfy a certain set of readers - but seems slighly disingenuous. Even Ferarri is hardly selling 3 pedals anymore.
          Michael Harley
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jtc
          Thanks! That comment is hardly forced, and I would never say it if I didn't mean it. I hold that some cars are better with a dual-clutch (GT-R, 911 Turbo) while some are better with a 6MT (RS5, GT3, R8 GT). I even prefer some with a slushbox (Rapide, GT Speed). It all depends on the character of the engine. The RS5 is fitted with a traditional high-revving V8 that loves to see redline — to me, that's a perfect mate for a manual gearbox. - Mike
          Tom Winch
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jtc
          Ferrari hasn't sold a manual transmission car since the 2011 California.
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      Gorgeous, sexy car. I can pass Vettes, Porsche's, but whenever I see one of these, I cant stop looking until its gone. It doesnt use gimmicky chrome and silly accents to grab attention. Its pure form and function in a silky yet masculine design. My favorite thing about this machine is the stance. Its wide, has huge wheels and looks like a menacing puma on the prowl. Love it, love it!
        Brett
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        Agreed! Walter de Silva called this his most attractive design and it's not hard to see why.
      Jonathan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yes, an analogy between a sexy (luxury) sports coupe and a supermodel is appropriate. They both cost an arm and a leg.
      Adrian Elliot
      • 1 Year Ago
      So good.
      Alex
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why is 1280x850 considered 'high res'? Using a 1280x850 picture on a 1920x1080 screen doesn't look very nice. Can we have higher resolution pictures? Specifically the 10th and 11th pictures in the gallery, with the sunset in the background. Beautiful pictures.
      Jason O'Young
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks familiar. http://www.autoblog.com/photos/audi-quattro-concept-quick-spin/
      knightrider_6
      • 1 Year Ago
      LOL about the price. I'm sorry, but putting a bigger engine in Jetta doesn't make it worth $70000
        Justin Campanale
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        Anyone who relates this to a Jetta is just proving that their I.Q borders single digits and that their troll card is long expired.
        k_m94
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        Autoblog, you censor swear words like ****. Could your moderators also delete comments that fall below a certain downvote threshold or are just general piece of trash trolls like this?
          • 1 Year Ago
          @k_m94
          [blocked]
        Merc1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        Man you're so lost it isn't even funny. M
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        I'm sorry, putting an LS3 in a Cruze doesn't make it worth $70000
        thequebecerinfrance
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        Don't be sorry, just don't say anything.
        Lachmund
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        your new troll account is such a fail, mr. rizer
      bubba_roe
      • 1 Year Ago
      Take a hyundai, give it blander styling and youre left with an Audi.
        desinerd1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bubba_roe
        @bubba_roe truth will get you downvoted
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bubba_roe
        [blocked]
        Brandon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bubba_roe
        desinerd1, you me stupid gets you down voted.
        FuelToTheFire
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bubba_roe
        Take a blind man, hook him up with a can of lead paint, and you're left with a bubba_roe.
        Brandon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bubba_roe
        mean*
      AcidTonic
      • 1 Year Ago
      Performance is so lackluster on these crazy priced vehicles..... 4.5 to 60? With an AWD V8? Agreed this needs the 4.0TT and I may give it another look. My Evo makes more than 317ft/lbs before 3000rpm. The torque is pathetic. The 4.0TT would easily make 400ft/lbs + at that RPM. That's what we want.....
        waetherman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AcidTonic
        Not to knock the Evo, which is a great car at a decent price, but the two are not really comparable. You can put them side by side with 0-60 numbers, HP and torque etc, but they're two very different cars intended for two very different consumers.
        k_m94
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AcidTonic
        It's a 4.2 V8 that doesnt have forced induction and is tuned to rev really high to make its power. So it doesnt have much torque, but some people much rather they have a naturally aspirated engine that sounds amazing and revs higher and more responsively than an equivalent turbo engine could. 4.5 to 60...this is Audi's conservative estimate. They said the S6 would take over 4 seconds to hit 60, it does it in as low as 3.6. Same story for the TTRS. Pretty sure the RS5 actually hits 60 in under 4 seconds.
        Eta Carinae
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AcidTonic
        exactly my point......for all it is throwing at us (looks, V8, AWD) it doesnt perform.......like a bodybuilder on steroids....it looks the part, but under the draws its a different story......
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AcidTonic
        The Evo doesn't really have much of an interior. That's not a bad thing considering your priorities on performance, but the RS5 probably has $20-30k worth of refinement and luxury over the Mitsu.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AcidTonic
        [blocked]
      Max Bramante
      • 1 Year Ago
      Dear audiblog, this car is not sexy, is dull, understeering and unreliable just like any other audi or is better to say "overpricede VW".
        1STH
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Max Bramante
        is it jealousy or envy which causes this sort of absurd comment to come tumbling out in a bout of typed diarrhea? or just plain ignorance? The RS5 shares no platform or parts with any VW.
        Justin Campanale
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Max Bramante
        Which VW does this share a platform with.
          Lachmund
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          he's a funny kid, isn't he?!
      Helix
      • 1 Year Ago
      That interior does not belong in a base $70k car.
        Tina Dang
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Helix
        Better than anything in the class. Audi makes some of the best interiors.
          Helix
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Tina Dang
          The A4/A5 interior is hardly befitting of a $38k car and definitely nowhere near best in its class. Let alone in a $70k vehicle.
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