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Audi RS 5 Coupe Road Test Review in India

  • May 10, 2014
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Hero figures, that’s what defines car makers at the higher end of the spectrum. Audi’s RS line-up has some spine tingling machinery in their high performance car range. And the RS 5 Coupe we have here, could not be more fit for a hero model. Based on the A4 sedan, the RS 5 is a two door coupe version created to appeal to all senses of the enthusiast. For starters, it looks the part. The Audi RS 5 may very well be a sports car but its bold styling gives it quite the presence, a perfect blend between a modern day sportscar and an old school muscle car! And then there is the heart of the matter, the 4.2 litre naturally aspirated V8 engine that defines this car.

While the R8 V10 Plus is the flagship performance car from Audi, our road conditions limit the usability of supercars. This is where the RS 5 we have here pulls its trump card, as a high performance car more suited to our environs. I get to grips with the hair raising RS 5 to tell you what its like to live with this sporty coupe, which is so much more than just that.

 



Exterior

A definitive character of the Audi RS 5 is its massive front grille. The single piece trapezoidal unit with its honeycomb mesh makes quite the statement, more so with the Audi logo in the centre and that RS 5 badge on the side. The wide front bumper with its large air intakes on either side and a sleek central air intake at the bottom finished, with the silver air splitter running along the lower section gives the car a very wide stance that is further accentuated by the flared wheel arches. The bonnet has sharp lines flowing down from the A-Pillars to the tip of the headlights, giving the car a nice large power dome.



Location courtesy: Spaze I Tech Park, Gurgaon

With the face-lifted model we have here, Audi has given the car its new family look with the daytime running lights.



Location courtesy: Spaze I Tech Park, Gurgaon

From the side, the front apron of the car with the flared wheel arch gives way to a sleek A-Pillar for the steeply raked windscreen. The roofline slopes backwards from the highest point of the roof, that happens to not be too far from the windscreen. The chrome lined window line has blacked out B-Pillars and the long doors have pillarless windows. The roofline leads to the thick C-Pillar that blends on to the boot lid at just the perfect spot. The boot too has just the right length with the tail lights flowing from the rear apron to the boot lid. The side profile of the RS 5 is further complimented by a strong shoulder line running from the headlamps, along the centre section of the car to the rear tail lights. In the lower section, the side profile of the car has a deep kink in the doors along with side skirts over the rocker panels. Completing the side profile of the car are the massive 20 inch, five spoke alloys and petal disc brakes with the RS branded brake callipers.



 

The side profile of the Audi RS 5 to my mind is the best angle of the car. I know that’s a bold statement to make but just look at the coupe’s profile, it looks like a brutal muscle car!



Around the back, the RS 5 has a large rear bumper that houses a central air diffuser at the bottom, twin chrome ringed tail pipes which not to my liking, house two smaller exhaust pipes inside each large one. Lending a visual break, like at the front, is a silver line running along the black centre section. The boot lid has a large recess for the license plate. The LED tail lights of the car have that classic Audi design language with the unit on the boot lid sporting a slanted inside section. Although, the lower section of the rear lets you know of the car’s intentions, I feel it looks too similar to the standard A4 sedan, until you raise that slick rear spoiler via a button on the centre console and it goes up on its own too at speeds in excess of 120 km/h.



Overall though, the Audi RS 5 is a stunning looking vehicle, no matter from where you look at it and more so in this wonderful Sepang Blue, pearl effect shade that makes it stand out beautifully. I have not come across a single person who is not full of praises for the way the car looks or the shade for that matter, and that I think that sums up the looks of the car in an apt manner.

 



Interiors

Swing open the pillar less doors and you are greeted by a somewhat familiar Audi cabin. The first thing I happened to notice is the steering wheel that happens to be the same unit from an Audi TT. A steering wheel from a TT in an RS 5! Leaving this glitch aside, the rest of the cabin is a nice place to be in and the steering wheel is nice to hold. The RS 5 comes with a set of good looking metal paddle shifters to change gears manually when in the mood. The instrument cluster of the RS 5 too is identical to that of the Audi A4, apart from more clicks on the counters and the RS 5 logo under the tachometer.



The cabin in itself is a spacious one for a coupe, something that is emphasized by the large sun roof that unfortunately can only be tilted and not opened. It has a manual sun blind to protect you from the scorching sunlight in this country during the day while the rear window as a powered sun blind. Cup holders in the centre console and on the rear arm rest along with large storage boxes under the front centre armrest and the rear arm rest adds to the practical side of the cabin. The practical nature of the car is also enhanced by the large 455 litre boot that has enough space to gobble up all your luggage, be it for the short weekend or a longer blast around the countryside.

The sporty leather clad front seats are very comfortable and offer commendable support. Both seats come with electric adjustment and the driver’s seat has two memory settings as do the outside rear view mirrors that automatically dim along with the interior mirror, when they detect headlight beams from other cars. Moving to the back of the cabin, the rear seat may look cramped, but is reasonably comfortable for average sized adults over small trips.



The centre console has the high resolution 7 inch MMI screen placed prominently at the top centre section and is easy to read at all times. The MMI interface is intuitive to use and our car came with the optional satellite navigation system. The controls for the MMI interface are on the centre console and are fairly easy to use once you get a hang of them. The system has Bluetooth connectivity that is extremely convenient to connect to, as it does it automatically after the first time. The air vents too feel very premium and do a fantastic job of cooling the cabin. All the switchgear on the dashboard along with the plastics, chrome and leather feel premium and fit and finish is excellent. The control stalks for the lights, wipers and cruise control feel upmarket and very nice to use.



The RS 5 also came fitted with the optional Bang & Olufsen surround sound stereo that has 14 speakers! Sound quality from the unit is simply superb and it calms you even under heavy traffic conditions when you are grooving to your favourite tunes.

 



Engine and Gearbox

Moving on to the heart of the matter, the Audi RS 5 is powered by a direct injection 4.2 litre naturally aspirated V8 engine that is closely knitted to the V8 and V10 engines used in the Audi R8 supercar. The unit itself is derived from Audi’s motorsport experience and features aluminum block and head construction that not only makes it lightweight but has a high-rev concept design that allows this large capacity V8 engine to rev to its 8,500 redline!

The engine is mated to a seven-speed double clutch automatic gearbox, dubbed as S-tronic. The unit also offers manual gear changes via tiptronic function or paddle shifters behind the wheel. The gearbox can be used in drive mode for normal as well as efficient driving or in sport mode that holds on to gears longer to stay on the power and holds gears right till the red line.



Slot the key fob into the slot, hold the brake pedal, push the fob in and the engine growls into life, something that you simply can never tire of. Slot the gear selector in drive, release the electric park brake and tread lightly on the throttle as the car swiftly gets a move on. There is a distant rumble from the engine as the revs rise. Cross the 3,000 rpm mark and the engine note turns into the sound of rapid gunfire that only gets louder as the rev needle climbs upwards. Push the engine past 7,000 rpm and there is a nice loud roar that continues all the way to 8,500 rpm. Apart from its stunning looks, the RS 5 makes its present felt everywhere it goes with its deep baritone engine and exhaust note that puts everyone’s hair on end resulting in admiring glares from all around.

The V8 engine is absolutely smooth throughout the rev band. It develops 450PS of power at a heady 8,250 rpm and 430Nm of torque between 4,000 rpm and 6,000 rpm. Step on the loud pedal and the naturally aspirated V8 engine pulls cleanly without any lag across the dial of the rev counter as the S-tronic gearbox works its way through the gears seamlessly, no matter which mode it is in. Power is sent to all four wheels via a centre differential with 60:40 rear and front bias, but as much as 85 per cent of power can be sent to the rear wheels and 70 per cent to the front.



The lively nature of the V8 engine allows the Audi RS 5 to go from standstill to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds, keep the throttle pinned and the speedo needle will whisk past the 200 km/h in a matter of 10.9 seconds as power continues to come in strong, the sportscar’s electronically limited top speed is pegged at 250 km/h.



The Audi RS 5 can achieve these numbers without breaking a sweat, in a rather comforting yet exhilarating manner. But that’s not it. You can make this sportscar more exciting according to your taste by going into the car’s MMI interface that has a drive mode select with four settings, comfort mode - that makes adjustments for a comfortable ride over long journeys, auto mode - provides a comfortable ride with sharper driver input responses, dynamic mode - that sharpens steering response response, gear changes, suspension as well as the sports differential for enthusiastic driving and lastly individual mode - that allows the driver to set each of the four characteristics of the car to suit a personal driving style or preference. I personally, found the best setting to put everything at dynamic, apart from the suspension that I found best in comfort mode.



So, what does all this translate into in the real world? Let me put it like this, with the car in individual mode and the four parameters set to my taste, this brute of an RS 5 surges ahead with unmatched panache. As all 450PS of power and 430Nm of torque pin me to my seat and catapult the roaring blue machine into the horizon, I simply tug at the + pedal near the redline with my right hand and it all begins again.

 



Location courtesy: Wonder Speedway, Noida

Ride and Handling

The Audi RS 5 has a steel shell designed to have maximum rigidity and minimum weight, while a tailor made floor pan has variable thickness to keep weight in check while ensuring optimum structural strength. Hot formed and cold formed body panels are used on the car while the front aprons are made of aluminum to keep front and rear weight distribution in check. Also, both front and rear axles have aluminum components to reduce weight.

The RS 5 is underpinned by a five-link front suspension with virtual steering axle, while at the back there is a trapezoidal link rear axle with independent suspension. There are tubular stabilizers at the front and rear, single tube gas shock absorbers and coil springs all around.



Location courtesy: Wonder Speedway, Noida

The car we had was fitted with the optional sports suspension featuring Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) that uses hydraulic pipes connecting the diagonal dampers with a central valve to ensure a stiffer and flatter ride. DRC offers different cushioning and ride characteristics in comfort, auto and dynamic mode.

Another optional equipment fitted to the car was dynamic steering that allows the electromechanical steering system to improve comfort and handling according to driving situations.



Right, now that all the mechanicals and electronics are dealt with, lets get down to how the car behaves on the road. First of all, you never notice the heavy 2,215 kg kerb weight of the car, partly due to the powerful V8 engine and partly because of weight distribution that makes this car very nimble and agile.

The suspension in comfort mode does an excellent job of cushioning bumps and potholes for a sportscar and there is minimal body roll under hard cornering on roads. Body control is excellent and no matter what driver input comes in the form of steering or braking inputs, the RS 5 takes it all in its stride without a bother.

My only complaint is in regard to the steering unit, which while being light and accurate, just does not provide adequate feedback. It weighs up nicely as the speeds go up and is always confident but had it offered some more road feel to the driver it would have been appreciated. Also, bearing in mind that this is a V8 sportscar, the car has a very large turning radius. Something that can be a pain in tight traffic conditions. But then again, I’ am nit picking really as the RS 5 is so easy to drive in every other way.



Under congested traffic conditions, it is a breeze to drive the Audi RS 5 despite its size. The controls are just so convenient, all you need to do is slot the automatic gearbox into drive and waft about in complete luxury with the light steering that makes it convenient to slot the sizable V8 sportscar into the tightest of spots.

Open the taps and the Audi RS 5 simply takes off with the V8 engine roaring away to glory, the flaps in the exhaust opening at higher revs for greater acoustics. The car’s sorted drive dynamics combined with the quattro all-wheel drive system and traction control keeping a check on tyre grip at all times and allowing you to take corners at rather serious speeds.

The brakes on the RS 5 are superb. The 18 inch wave disc brakes at the front with eight piston front callipers and single piston calliper at the rear provide extremely effective and feel some braking force that keeps all the power from the V8 engine in check.



We also happened to take the RS 5 to the Wonder Speedway Go Kart track in Noida to see what its like to drive this large V8 coupe around the track’s tight bends. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out how easy it was to push the RS 5 around the track. In dynamic mode the traction control allows that little bit of slip and lots of fun. The four wheel drive system along with the torque vectoring system sends the right amount of power to each wheel to make the car exit a corner as fast as possible.



An ergonomic issue I noticed here is that the paddle shifters are a tad too small and you really have to reach out for them when you want to change gears while cornering, a set of bigger paddles would really be appreciated. While the rear electronic sport differential functions like a limited slip differential to ensure adequate power delivery to each wheel. The brakes as usual did a great job on the track too and thanks to aluminum pins that connect the outer wave disc to the disc brake chamber, they didn’t over heat.



As you can see from these pictures, I had a blast in the Audi RS 5 going around the 650 meter track with tyres squealing for grip around what is clearly not a track meant for a sportscar of this size. Nevertheless, it was interesting to go around some of the really tight corners carrying a little too much speed and doing lock to lock turns, at which point there was some understeer at times. But then again, this was taking the car to the limit on a very tight track. Body roll was well contained too with the suspension in dynamic mode. By the end of it, I was grinning myself silly about how easily the RS 5 took on what is a Go Kart track with full enthusiasm and still allowed me to have as much fun as I did. It displayed great body control and never once felt nervous while being pushed to the limit.

 



Safety

The Audi RS 5 comes loaded with a host of safety features such as front, side and head airbags for front passengers, anti-slip regulation, electronic stability programme to prevent the car from skidding around corners, anti-lock braking system for skid free braking with steering control, electronic differential lock to prevent wheel slippage over slippery surfaces, crumple zones and impact beams to protect occupants and divert impact energy away from them in an accident and those fantastic adaptive Xenon headlamps that provide optimum illumination under all circumstances.

While the Audi RS 5 has not been put through the Euro NCAP crash test, since its based on the Audi A4 that has scored a five star safety rating, its safe to assume that the Audi RS 5 Coupe is just as structurally sound.

 



Verdict

Its not easy to sum up to the gorgeous Audi RS 5 Coupe. It is an extremely handsome vehicle, with its butch muscle car looks. And its got the fire power to match its good looks too, thanks to its direct injection naturally aspirated V8 engine that loves to rev. Then there is the fantastic engine note as well as exhaust note that lend so much of character to this brutal coupe. Wherever you go, you can’t help but be noticed. And as a bachelor I can perfectly relate to this car. Its got everything I want, comfortable seating for two passengers at the front, place to shove my friends in at the back. Its loaded with equipment. Its safe, its fast and despite its low ride height, can deal with our massive speed breakers with ease. The interiors are well built and fit and finish is top notch.



There are a few drawbacks though. Audi should first of all give it a different steering wheel, as this one just looks to be lifted off a TT. The RS 5’s turning radius could have been better. I wish the steering had more feedback too. And at 6.0 km/l as its best city fuel efficiency figure that I managed, its not exactly light on the pocket considering that it runs on 97 octane petrol that retails at Rs. 95 a litre. Mash the throttle harder and the average will drop below 5 km/l. But then again, going by how much people spend on drinking out these days, the RS 5’s drinking habits are quite sober and considering the deep pockets of people who buy this car at Rs. 1.14 crore (ex-showroom Delhi, with all the options fitted on this example), fuel cost is not even an issue here. What is an issue though, is the availability of 97 octane petrol in India with very few pumps dispensing the high performance fuel. To my mind this is the biggest drawback that the RS 5 faces for what is otherwise a very usable day to day car.



But none of that matters. You know why? Because, the Audi RS 5 is a triumph of passion. Its design blends modern day looks with old school design cues beautifully, and then there is the modern day V8 engine that doles out performance in a great manner, the seven speed gearbox has smooth and quick gear changes, the brakes are excellent, the suspension is comfortable, its convenient to drive slow and when in the mood, it will thrill you every time you put your right foot down, it sounds great throughout the rev band and blips on the overrun too!

While the above mentioned facts are quantifiable, the very core of the RS 5 is an emotional one. Something car lovers associate with, its the way a vehicle makes you feel. And on that count, the Audi RS 5 has a very unique niche carved out for itself. It is one of the very few naturally aspirated V8 sportscars out there that is capable, practical and extremely desirable all at the same time.



 

Photography by Kanupriya Bhatnagar
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