It's a bigger car than the photos make you believe and that breadth extends to the cabin.
Neil Dowling road tests and reviews the Audi RS5 in Germany.
Audi has stunned with a massive $13,500 reduction in its hot-headed RS 5 Coupe.
The slashed pricing makes the fiery version of the adored coupe even more alluring and comes less than a month before its Australian debut.
But is this the start of a discount campaign by Audi to take control of the German prestige car sector and in doing so, help parent Volkswagen meet its goal of being the world's Number 1 vehicle maker by 2018?
The RS 5 presents a new concept for Audi - electromechanical steering - and standard equipment including Attention Assist (a driver alert system), a flat-bottomed steering wheel and an upgraded MMI central control now with Bluetooth streaming.
There are some body highlights to identify this mid-life makeover, but the drivetrain remains the same - a 331kW/430Nm 4.2-litre V8 petrol attached to a seven-speed dual-clutch auto then driving all wheels. But it's the price cut that's the most fascinating factor.
It's now $161,900 and I don't want to dwell on what an RS 5 Coupe customer - Audi sold their last one of the previous model in December - thinks about that.
There are virtually no options but there are two Dynamic Sports packages for $4490 each. It doesn't have a direct competitor - Audi says it's more in the BMW M5 league than the M3 - but the smaller BMW makes some impact given its $155,000 price tag.
Few changes here because the alloy and high-tensile steel body is sweated over a similar frame as before. This is a mid-life model and visual cues are relatively minor. Look closely and there's new headlights with LED eyebrows, a new grille with chamfered edges and a graphite finish, bolder flares over 19-inch (and preferable 20-inch rubber on the Dynamic Sports packages) and sleeker tail lights, the cabin still comfortably seats four adults, the boot is expansive and changes are - again - minor. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is the biggest visible change, though the MMI monitor system is more sophisticated.
The drivetrain remains with the 331kW V8 delivering such a silky, aurally warming note as to cause the driver to turn down the audio. There is a new electromechanical steering system with the motor integrated with the steering rack. It's the same rack and ratio as the A4, A6 and Q5.
Replacing the previous car's hydraulic steering system with the new electric-assist motor has cut fuel consumption to 10.5 litres/100km from 10.8 L/100km. Not much but at the same time, acceleration to 100km/h is down to 4.5 seconds from 4.6 seconds because the dual-clutch seven-speed auto transmission has been made sharper.
Audi "drive select'' gives different settings for the engine, gearbox, steering and dampers. Valves in the exhaust system open at high load and engine speed or at the push of a button for a gutteral sound. In Dynamic mode, double-clutching provides an audio backdrop to downshifts.
Brakes are 365mm front steel discs with eight-piston calipers and a waved contour that saves 3kg in the car's total weight. Ceramic carbon-fibre discs with six-pot calipers are optional.
The five-star crash rating continues from before, while electronic aids offer the same level of sophistication. The bigger brakes will make a difference, while the electronic stability control can be deactivated. The headlights are xenon, there are six airbags, a reverse camera and sensors, and the spare tyre is a space-saver.
It's a bigger car than the photos make you believe and that breadth extends to the cabin. Though low to the ground, it will comfortably accept four adults with more than sufficient rear-seat legroom, though tall chaps may brush their heads against the alcantara headliner.
The new flat bottomed steering wheel makes access easy and adds a subtly sporty element. The seats, too, are sports oriented. I drive two RS 5s in different Dynamic Sports packages - one with alcantara and leather electric-adjustment seats, mildly bolstered and perfect for commuting, while the other - completed with gloss black grille - had full leather seats with manual fore/aft travel and deeply dished with bolsters for the hips and shoulders.
Comfortable from the first sitting. The noise from the engine is a precursor to its power delivery. The data says 331kW at a whopping 8250rpm but that dismisses the fact that the torque (430Nm at 4000-6000rpm) is so effortless that missed gearshifts - when using the dual-clutcher as a manual - are brushed off by the engine.
The electric steering is good - very good, in fact - though it was a wee vague just off centre and its feedback wasn't as positive as the car deserved. But that's what the electronic aids are for. Switch on the adjustment for the engine/gearbox/steering and dampers and the RS 5 becomes an animal. The "good but" steering firms and tightens to become like a go-kart.
The suspension pulls the car down through the bends while the engine's sharpness and gearbox's razor-edge reflexes creates a package that is uber confident and, through the mountains into Austria from our German base, so much more enjoyable. Impressive also is the ride quality.
Despite the optional 275/30 profile 20-inch rubber, ride quality was excellent and though the suspension was firmer and more prone to the jiggles, it never made occupants complain. But above all, the incredible acceleration and the explosive launch-control feature create a luxury coupe that will outrun the pack.
Audi RS 5 Coupe
Warranty: 3yr/unlimited km
Service interval: 15,000km/12 months
Safety: six airbags, ABS, EBD, EBA, TC.
Crash rating: 5 stars
Engine: 4.2-litre V8 petrol; 331kW/430Nm
Body: 2-door coupe
Dimensions: 4.6m (L): 1.9m (W); 1.4m (H)
Transmission: 8-spd dual-clutch auto; AWD
Economy: 10.5 l/100km; 270g/km CO2