BMW teams up with Italian styling gurus at Pininfarina for slick new coupe
What - Audi RS5
Where - Malaga, Spain
Date - April 2010
Price - £57,480
Available - October
Key rivals -BMW M3, Mercedes C63 AMG, Nissan GT-R, Jaguar XK, Lexus IS-F
Brutal V8 power and dazzling next-generation Quattro all-wheel drive announce the arrival of the latest RS Audi
We like - Fabulous engine, muscular looks, exhaust note, clever chassis tech, all-weather ability, smart interior
We don't like - A tad soulless, synthetic steering feel, having to pay extra for nav, grabby ceramic brakes, fake exhaust trims, pricey
Gallery: Audi RS5
Read more Audi reviews
Revealed exactly 30 years ago the original Ur Quattro defined Audi as a four-wheel drive pioneer and revolutionised rallying into the bargain. Three decades on this new RS5 once again puts a hot coupe at the heart of the Quattro range.
Back in 1980 the Ur Quattro's turbocharged 200hp and supernatural all-weather ability were a world apart from what anyone else was offering. But these days Audi has to work a little harder to maintain its technological and performance lead.
To paraphrase Audi's famous tagline, next-gen Quattro drivetrain and a seven-speed automated dual-clutch gearbox provide the necessary Technik while a thumping 450hp 4.2-litre V8 delivers Vorsprung that'll leave an M3 gasping.
The looks are standard A5 coupe, albeit after some serious gym work - squared off wheelarch extensions harking back to that Quattro of 30 years ago. It looks, and sounds, the business. As it should given the £57,480 pricetag.
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In Audi hierarchy S models - like the S5 - are the discreetly rapid ones. But the RS models are in a different league totally, the RS5's handbuilt V8 motor basically the V10 from the flagship R8 supercar with a couple of cylinders lopped off.
And it's no worse for it, offering the low-down shove of traditional V8s but matching the M3's crazed high-rev madness too, the redline not cutting in until 8,500rpm. And all the way there it sounds magnificent, a deep chested V8 rumble erupting into a fierce bellow as the revs build.
Image © Audi
Punching seamlessly through the standard fit seven-speed automated S tronic gearbox, acceleration is relentless, 0-62mph coming up in just 4.6 seconds en route to a limited 155mph maximum, which can be raised to 174mph if you choose.
That famous four-wheel drive traction means this formidable power can be deployed whatever the conditions under tyre too, the huge power band and flexibility meaning the RS5 feels formidably fast in every situation.
Ride and handling
Technology has always been an Audi selling point but the amount of hardcore engineering underpinning the RS5 is simply boggling, a new centre differential able to send a greater proportion of power to where it's needed among the new innovations.
A full explanation of how it all works would take too long. Simpler then to just nail the throttle at speed on a greasy, twisting Spanish mountain road and find out how it works in practise.
Good sense tells you now is the time to be backing off but keeping your foot in lets the chassis work its magic and you can feel the power shuffle through the four wheels to where it can do its job, hurling the RS5 forward with fierce momentum.
Diagonally linked dampers like those seen on the old RS4 counteract roll and for the UK all RS5s will have three-way adjustable suspension as standard, switchable via the Audi Drive Select system familiar from various other cars in the range.
In the RS5 the Dynamic (ie, hardest) suspension is probably a bit much for most roads, the 'individual' option meaning you can pick your preferred combination of settings for steering, throttle, gearbox and dampers.
Like a slightly civilised version of the Nissan GT-R it's all brutally effective. But the tech overload does come at the expense of flow and feel, rivals like the M3, Jag XK and C63 perhaps not ultimately as fast but involving the driver more in the experience.
Sit inside the RS5 and you'll be immediately impressed by the typically high quality of the cabin and the firm, supportive grip of the standard sports seat. Less cheering is the fact Audi still expects you to shell out another £1,495 for sat-nav...
Those sports seats make rear seat access something of a pain too, saloon rivals like the C63 or Lexus IS-F offering much more practicality with no compromise in driving thrills.
Economy and safety
It's not what you'd call a green champion but compared with rivals the RS5's 26.2mpg and 252g/km are pretty good, if not enough to escape the Band L £750 'showroom tax' first year VED rate.
Four-wheel drive is an obvious safety boost in greasy weather, optional ceramic brakes (costing, gulp, £6,250) dependably shrugging off the huge speeds the RS5 all too easily attains. Not that the standard set-up is exactly lacking either.
MSN Cars verdict
Audi's Quattro technology has come a long way in 30 years and the RS5 more than honours the traditions laid down by the illustrious original. And the looks, noise and performance are all stunning.
But would a modern day Gene Hunt be happy firing up this particular Quattro? It's certainly something of a bully, at least in the way it dominates the road and pummels the opposition. And if not instantly charismatic it definitely commands respect.
|Need to know|
|Engine - Petrol||4.2-litre V8|
|Engine - Diesel||N/A|
|Torque (lb ft)||319|
|Top speed (mph)||155 (limited)|
|Ride and handling||****|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
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