Downsizing is an obvious trend with car makers but it’s only relative when you’re moving down from a V8 to a twin-turbo V6 that churns out more power. Sure, you can lament the loss of a couple of cylinders but when it’s packaged around something as accomplished as an Audi RS5, you should be looking at the bigger picture. In this case, that picture is of utter practicality. Space, power, speed, grip, style, quality, and everyday usability - all in a single car!
More aggressive design touches differentiate the RS5 from the slightly distilled S5 that was launched just a few months ago but in the shade of Sonoma Green Metallic that our test car was in, it makes a statement even before your eyes can catch the details. But once they do, there’s plenty to soak in here, from the new grille with a honeycomb pattern to the Matrix LED headlights with integral aero vents, frameless doors, and a massive rear diffuser with a new bumper along with trademark, sharp Audi LED taillights. The sinewy muscle on the rear haunches, tasteful lip spoiler, the sharply raked windscreen, and the low-slung ride height give it a proper sportscar stance.
Interiors are predictably Audi with high-quality materials everywhere, including a new 10.1in touchscreen that is slick, responsive, and can be turned off completely. The always dependable and still shockingly good Virtual Cockpit keeps getting better, with a whole host of specific RS display modes, in this case, it can show you how many lateral G’s you’re pulling in a corner around Karol Bagh or drag times from 0-100 or 0-200 and anywhere in between. There is also an RS button on the steering wheel to trigger your preferred drive settings at the touch of a button. Both USB-A and USB-C are provided for but you don’t get the wireless casting options for your phones. Bang & Olufsen handles audio duties and delivers the goods with a wide soundstage and enough speakers dotted around the cabin to keep you immersed in a 3D sound experience if you’re not in the mood to be entertained by the V6’s howl. One of my personal favourite touches on the interiors though is the metallic carbon fiber trim that splits the upper and lower halves of the dashboard. It almost invites you to feel its texture and is testimony to the legendary cabin quality of Audi. It’s not a cabin brimming with features or cutting-edge connectivity, but I also like the fact that it has the essentials and keeps it simple to let you focus on the driving bit.
The engine comes to life with an unmistakable burble, letting you know that it’s not an ordinary A5. With 450hp and 600Nm of torque at your disposal, this isn’t a car to be taken lightly. Not because of its portly weight, but also because of its immense capabilities, thanks to Quattro all-wheel drive system but with a rear bias in this case. There’s only a split second of hesitation when you smash your foot down and the twin turbos spool up but after that, the gearshifts and the acceleration are brutal all the way to its 6800RPM redline. The exhaust note is addictive and wants you to keep the transmission at a lower gear for maximum aural pleasure, while the engine, co-developed with Porsche is just the epitome of smoothness and creamy power delivery. Switch it to Comfort mode and at city speeds, you’d never suspect that you’re behind a fire-breathing competitor to the M3 or C63. It’s supple, quiet and barring its looks, can even slip in front of a school for a quick pick-up. It transforms itself on a dime and that makes it more useful in everyday life than either of its competitors. Sure, it might be down on power or drama or “feel” according to purists, but for those who live a life outside of YouTube videos, the RS5 is as entertaining as a rerun of Friends. It feels predictable on the limit, doesn’t want to kill you with oversteer and can be enjoyed anytime, in any condition!
Thanks to its notchback shape, the massive boot lid offers enough room to move houses and seat four very comfortably. Alcantara-covered seats are well-bolstered in the front and rear and there’s nothing you really miss in the RS5. Sure, ventilated seats, wireless charging or CarPlay and connected car tech get a miss but in the larger scheme of things, its accomplished chassis, that potentially award-winning engine and the drop-dead gorgeous styling more than make up for the omissions. Its competitors might be more qualified to induce goosebumps but the RS5 is something that you would want to use more often.