• Image Credit: Audi

M. AMG. SRT. SVT. To the American performance junkie, these letters represent the acme of automotive engineering. Cars with these letters stamped on the back have gargantuan engines, remarkable driving dynamics and, generally, astronomical price tags. And they've all solidified their place in automotive history.

Audi is looking to become equally legendary here in the United States with its RS line of performance vehicles. As it stands, there are only a couple on sale right now, the TT RS and this thing of beauty, the RS 5.

With the skin and bones of a A5 convertible and internal organs based on the drool-inducing R8, the RS 5 appears, on the surface, to have what it takes to enter the hallowed halls inhabited by vehicles like the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. 

I spent some time behind the wheel of an oceanic blue drop-top RS 5, hoping for my knuckles to turn permanently white and my hair to require chemical treatment to untangle. Did the car deliver? Click through to see.

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The Basics
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The Basics

Sticker Price: $77,900
Invoice Price: $72,448

Engine: 4.2L V8

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Performance: 450 horsepower, 317 lb-ft of torque

Fuel Economy: 16 mpg City, 22 mpg Highway

Seating: 4 people

Cargo Capacity: 10.2 cu. ft.

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Exterior Design
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Exterior Design

I already thought that the A5 was one of the most attractive vehicles on the market. The sporty tweaks made to the RS 5, such as the much more aggressive grill, lower ride height and giant two exhaust pipes on the rear, makes it even more attractive to look at.

My test car came in this incredible oceanic blue color. Every time I stepped outside and saw the RS 5 sitting in my driveway, I was reminded of bright, breezy days on the Mediterranean coast. It's a great color that is unique enough to stand out on the road, but not so loud as to become audacious.

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Interior
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Interior

It's hard to judge the interior of the Audi RS5 convertible with the top up – it just feels too confining. With the top down, the car feels like summertime. Even on chilly days, the seat heaters keep your butt warm enough to deal with the breezes.

Everything inside the car feels high quality – the leather seats that hold you in place, the cold aluminum on the gear changer, the round button used to control the infotainment screen. There's very little to complain about, except for the rear seats. They're so close to the front seats, even my 6-year-old couldn't fit in them comfortably. I know a convertible isn't meant to hold a ton of passengers, but it would be nice if there were just a couple more inches of legroom back there.

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Passenger And Cargo Room
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Passenger And Cargo Room

Up front, passenger room is quite good, especially when the top is down (obviously). Even with the roof on, leg, head and shoulder room is quite comfortable. The back seat, however, is essentially useless. I pity the passenger who has to sit back there for more than a few minutes.

Because the RS 5's convertible top has to be stored in the back when it's retracted, cargo room suffers quite a bit. Rated at just over 10 cubic feet, you're not going to find room for much more than a couple of grocery bags.

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Driving Dynamics
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Driving Dynamics

With the top up or down, this car is fun to drive. It hugs the road when you go around tight corners, and it's powerful enough to throw you into the back of your seat when you hit the accelerator.

And the noise. The RS5 has such sweet engine noise. It's a little grumbly, and roars when you hit the gas. It makes driving the car even more fun and a little showy.

It's 0-60 time is 4.3 seconds, which is .3 of a second slower than the non-convertible version. That's because the convertible version is heavier by about 400 pounds, accounting for the equipment needed to retract the hard top into the trunk. This heaviness hurts the performance a little bit, making it feel a touch sluggish off the line and around sharper turns.

It's a bummer that this car is not available with a manual transmission. The 7-speed automatic is great, don't get me wrong, but it's a shame that one can't shift on their own terms. The RS 5, of course, is far from the only car with this issue.

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Tech And Infotainment
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Tech And Infotainment

The RS 5 is chock full of technology. The car can act as a mobile hotspot, so you can surf the Internet while parked. Or your passenger can stream movies while you drive.

It also comes with Audi Connect with Google maps, which is one of our favorite technologies in cars. The navigation is easy to use, once you get the hang of Audi's dial in the center console which controls the keyboard on the screen. Enter your destination, and a Google maps satellite view of your route comes up on the screen. It's super easy to follow the map directions when you can see landmarks and the actual road on your map.

But the best part of the technology is that the screen is recessed a bit back into the center dashboard, with a shelf coming out over the screen. That little design cue helps make the entire system completely usable when you have the top down. Some automakers fail to think about this when designing cars, and when the sun is shining, the screen is unreadable. So kudos to Audi for thinking ahead.

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Bottom Line
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Bottom Line

Bottom line, this is a fun-to-drive convertible that has very few flaws. Except for one -- the price tag. Audi is asking almost $80,000 for this vehicle.

That is a lot of money. There are two other competitive convertibles in the same rough price range -- the BMW 640 and the Jaguar XK, which both start over $80,000. So in theory, one could argue that the RS 5 is a bargain. But there are plenty of fine convertibles in the $50,000 range that could make you just as happy.

All in all, I had a fun time with the RS 5 for a week in early June, when it was really too chilly to be driving with the top down. Not every convertible inspires me to turn the seat heaters on and pump up the heat so I can drive with the top down on a 50 degree day, but the RS 5 had me in some sort of charmed state. My ears were numb at the end of my hour commute, but I had a big smile on my face.

I'm not sure if that smile was worth $80,000, but if you have that kind of money to spend, you should definitely give this car a spin and see for yourself.

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