Driven: Audi's potent new RS5 arrives in SA
Cape Town - Audi has hotted up its local range with three new RS-badged cars: the RS5, the RS3 Sportback and the TT RS.
The new RS5 quattro is the most muscled-up version of the A5 coupe line up, and its 2.9-litre V6 bi-turbo engine wields outputs of 331kW and 600Nm to make it one of the most powerful 'family' Audis in the four-ringed line up.
This gives it the claimed ability to blast the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in just 3.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 250 km/h - which can be increased to 280 km/h as an option.
The RS5 looks the part with a honeycomb grille, an RS diffuser at the rear, spoiler lip, 20" wheels, and oval tailpipes. Customers are also able to specify the RS Dynamic Package which contains Matrix LED headlights, dynamic steering, a sports differential, and sports suspension plus with dynamic ride control.
Passengers are welcomed inside by illuminated door sills bearing the RS5 logo, with LED light guides tracing the contours of the doors and the center console - in 30 different colours if you choose the optional ambient lighting. Sporty luxury is laid on by electrically-adjustable RS sport seats in honeycomb-stitched nappa leather.
The all-digital Audi virtual cockpit comes standard, as does a 21cm infotainment system with navigation, and RS-specific digital instrument displays for speed and revs.
Paired with an eight-speed auto transmission and rear-biased quattro drive, the RS5 is a grand tourer with a penchant for twisty mountain passes, as I discovered at the media launch in Cape Town earlier this week.
The famous Du Toit's Kloof pass, a snaking mountain road that for once was reasonably clear of trucks, was an ideal playground to test Audi's new R1 285 550 toy and it didn't disappoint. The acceleration is livid, and that turbo V6 hums a suitably sporty tune to match the g-forces it's capable of.
With its drive modes set to Dynamic the RS5 swept through fast sweeps with great composure, and even with the suspension set to its hardest the car soaked up mid-corner bumps without getting skittish.
In such hard driving it's a fast but impressively forgiving car, and it's not prone to early understeer due to its quattro system which is by default split 40:60 front to rear, but can transfer up to 85 percent torque to the rear rear wheels when required. The flat-bottomed RS multifunction steering wheel feels great to grip with its perforated leather.
The RS5 is a car that doubles as a comfy and refined tourer when you're done chasing through mountain passes. Back on normal roads, selecting Comfort mode softened the suspension and smoothed out the ride to easy-cruising mode.
RS5 pricing vs rivals
|Audi RS5 Coupe||331kW/600Nm||R1 285 550|
|BMW M4 Coupe Competition||331kW/550Nm||R1 412 136|
|Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe||350kW/650Nm||R1 342 246|