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2018 Audi RS5 Coupe Drivers' Notes Review | Renn Sport reprised

Audi's performance coupe is faster than ever

Audi RS 5 coupe
Audi RS 5 coupe / Image Credit: Audi
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Tight handling, raw power but a punishing ride make this a great car for certain enthusiasts, though some other competitors are more well-rounded.

  • Engine
    2.9L Twin-Turbo V6
  • Power
    444 HP / 443 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • 0-60 Time
    3.7 Seconds
  • Top Speed
    174 MPH
  • Drivetrain
    All-Wheel Drive
  • Engine Placement
  • Curb Weight
    3,648 LBS
  • MPG
    18 City / 26 Highway
  • Warranty
    4 Year / 50,000 Mile
  • Base Price
  • As Tested Price
The 2018 Audi RS5 is the latest performance coupe from Audi's Renn Sport division. This new generation ditches the old 4.2-liter V8 for a lighter and more powerful 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 with up to 21.6 psi of boost. Like most other Audis, the exterior styling is an evolution of the previous generation, but the lines are a little sharper and more defined than before. While a four-door sportback version is coming, our tester was the traditional coupe, a car that could be considered a spiritual successor to the original Audi Quattro.

Every RS5 comes equipped with quattro all-wheel drive and an RS rear sport differential. Up to 70 percent of the power can be sent to the rear wheels. Our test car came loaded with a number of options. The $6,000 Dynamic Plus package adds ceramic front rotors, a carbon fiber engine cover and raises the top speed to 174 mph. Other options include the regular $3,350 Dynamic package with dynamic RS sport suspension and exhaust, $2,500 for 20-inch wheels and $1,500 for black Nappa leather seats.

If you want to hear more on the RS5 and how it compares to the BMW M4, listen to Greg and Reese on the Autoblog podcast.

Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: Really enjoyed my night in the Audi RS5. If I were in the market for a performance coupe, I'd strongly look at this one. The styling sets it apart from the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C63. Audi comes through with a clean look that is even better in person. This one, which stickers for $91,000, has everything, from the Dynamic Plus package to black-out trim. I'd probably go with one more barebones, closer to the $69,900 base.

The biturbo V6 sounds good, urges this two-door to 40 or 50 mph with no effort and a little bit of attitude. I like that. The exhaust gets a little rumbly. The hood subtly shoots up and away you go. Done up with Misano red pearl effect, you definitely turn heads, too. With smart execution, the proliferation of the RS range is reinforcing Audi's performance chops, and that comes through in the RS5.

Associate Editor Reese Counts: So much grip. You just point the wheel and mash the gas and let quattro sort out the rest. That's not to say it's easy, it's just simple. With the M4 — or any rear-wheel drive car — you have to manage your input to keep the ass end from riding around. It's not that way with the Audi. All that grip inspires a lot of confidence, but it's impossible to approach the car's limits on public roads without really pushing the bounds of safety. Or the law, for that matter.

While I miss the old V8, this new 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 — shared with a number of Porsches — is potent. There's torque for days, and the exhaust spits and hisses on overrun. It's also paired with ZF's wonderful 8-speed automatic. Shifts are smooth and direct and nearly as quick as those from a DCT. Still, the powertrain is missing some of the character you got from the old naturally-aspirated engines. Audi's old 4.2-liter V8 was a real world-class superstar and is dearly missed.

While the powertrain may disappoint slightly, I'm smitten with the RS5's exterior design. Like the TT RS, it's sporty and purposeful without being overdone. There's no excessive chrome or big rear wing, and it's not packed with enough carbon-fiber trim to make an F1 car blush. The grille is a bit bass-mouthed, but I don't hate it. The flared hips remind you of the Ur-Quattro in the best possible way.

I like the Audi a lot. Now I just need some seat time with the new Mercedes-AMG C63.

Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: For being very similar kinds of cars, it's interesting how different the BMW M4 and Audi RS5 are. The BMW M4 is an overly stiff, high-strung thing that's fun when you're caning it, but tiresome when driving on normal roads in normal traffic. The Audi, on the other hand, is impressively comfortable and gentle, turning down the sound and softening the shocks when desired.
That's not to say the RS5 isn't sporty. Stiffen and sharpen up the suspension, steering, all-wheel-drive, and more, and it becomes a real athlete. You can get all four wheels clawing the car around corners with grip and confidence. And even though the suspension is softer and the car feels heavier than the M4, it's still a car that is fun to toss around, and you can develop a nice smooth rhythm, unlike the darty M4.
Other aspects are good with minor flaws. The steering feels well-weighted and is very precise, but it doesn't tell you anything. The engine has a deep gurgle reminiscent of a V8, despite missing a couple of cylinders. But there's something about the note that sounds a bit artificial and generic. A far cry from the hyper BMW.
Between the two, I think my money would be on the Audi. It's definitely easier to live with, at least in southeast Michigan. And besides that, I find its pumped up body and menacing face more attractive, and the interior is certainly higher quality. Add that to a still enjoyable car, and you have my pick of the two.

Related Video:

Audi RS 5 Information

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