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Audi RS5 Sportback born from US demand for impossible BMW and AMG

The first German high-performance, mid-size five-door model that isn’t an SUV.

BMW can’t build you an M4 Gran Coupe and AMG doesn’t have a body available, but US demand has pushed Audi into unique territory.

Audi is the first of the big German brands to launch a high-performance, mid-size five-door model that isn’t an SUV, and it was the USA that nudged the four-ringed brand over the line.

This is despite the US’s pivotal role in the global SUV boom, with Audi Australia senior product planner Esther Choi confirming with CarsGuide this month that surprising US-market popularity of the previous-generation A5 Sportback and sportier S5 version was key to the development of a Sportback RS 5 this time around.  

Ms Choi also confirmed that the brand expects the new five door, five-seat liftback version to make up 60 per cent of Australian RS 5 sales, with the two door, four seat coupe version set to become second fiddle for the nameplate.

This is despite the RS 5 badge being exclusively two door for its first generation between 2010-17, split between coupe and convertible versions.

BMW’s split production of the 3 Series sedan/4 Series coupe with five-door liftback 4 Series Gran Coupe across two different plants has ruled out a hardcore M version of the latter for this generation.

In the Mercedes-AMG camp, there’s just no mid-size five-door body to base one on, so Audi has this opportunity to itself, for now at least.

Aside from retaining a sleek roofline and a pert rear end, the new RS 5 Sportback delivers most of the back seat and boot space of the RS 4 Avant, all for the same price and performance of the coupe.

The RS 5 Sportback carries a list price of $157,700, and claims to hit 100km/h in 3.9 seconds thanks to the same 331kW/600Nm twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 and Quatrtro all-wheel drivetrain as the RS 5 Coupe and RS 4 Avant.

Should BMW and AMG follow suit? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.