Full 2014 Audi RS 5 Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Audi RS 5 is essentially unchanged.
Audi models often come in mild, hot and extra-spicy flavors, and the 2014 Audi RS 5 is the maximum-hot version of the company's competent A5 and higher-performance S5 coupe and convertible lines. With 100 more horsepower than the S5, the ultra-high-performance Audi RS 5 coupe and drop top provide sizzling performance when conditions allow, yet they're still comfortable and docile enough for commuting and errand-running duties.
Behind its gaping Audi grille, the 2014 RS 5 packs a 450-hp V8 that sends its considerable thrust to all four wheels through a seven-speed automated manual transmission. With the 0-60 mph times of the coupe and heavier convertible averaging about 4.5 seconds, the RS 5 is one seriously quick four-seater. And when you're leaning on it, the V8 provides all the right sounds (including a throaty exhaust growl) as the tach needle rapidly arcs toward a heady 8,000 rpm.
Factor in handsome styling with a few aggressive tweaks and a well-finished cabin and you can see why we think so highly of the RS 5. Still, there are some pretty desirable rivals to consider as well. BMW is out readying its new M4 for 2015, but the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG coupe offers competitive power and luxury for thousands less, while the Mercedes E550 Cabriolet serves as a stately alternative to the drop-top RS 5. Other prime options include a loaded-up version of the new Corvette Stingray or more expensive choices like the Jaguar XK or Nissan GT-R. Any of these cars is likely to work out well for you, but with its tasty blend of style and performance, the 2014 Audi RS 5 is a very tempting choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Audi RS 5 is the top performance version of the A5 coupe and convertible (Cabriolet). Each comes in one well-appointed trim level.
Standard features include 19-inch wheels with summer tires, adaptive xenon headlights, LED running lights, a speed-activated rear spoiler, a panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming and heated mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front sport seats (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), driver memory functions, heated front seats, leather upholstery, carbon-fiber interior trim, split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 6.5-inch display and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and iPod integration.
The Cabriolet adds a power-operated soft top, a wind blocker and upgraded leather upholstery, but goes without the faux suede interior.
Adding the optional MMI Navigation Plus package gets you a navigation system with voice activation, Audi's MMI infotainment interface mounted on the console, a slightly larger 7-inch display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth audio connectivity, Audi Connect (enhanced Web-based navigation, information and WiFi access) and a premium 14-speaker (12 for the convertible) Bang & Olufsen sound system with HD radio. To that, the Driver Assist package can be added, which includes adaptive cruise control, a blind spot monitoring system and adaptive steering. The Titanium package adds 20-inch wheels, dark exterior trim and body-colored mirrors, while the Black Optic package adds its own set of 20-inch wheels, a blacked-out grille, body-color exterior mirrors and, on coupes, gloss-black window surrounds.
Stand-alone options include 20-inch wheels, carbon-ceramic front brakes, leather/simulated suede front seats, a sport exhaust, a power rear sunshade and aluminum interior trim.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2014 Audi RS 5 is a 4.2-liter V8 engine that produces 450 hp and 317 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automated dual-clutch manual transmission with shift paddles drives all four wheels through a standard all-wheel-drive system. The RS 5 coupe's EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg in combined driving. The RS 5 Cabriolet earns 16/22/18 ratings.
In Edmunds performance testing, the Audi RS 5 coupe made the sprint from zero to 60 mph in a quick 4.3 seconds, while the heavier RS 5 Cabriolet turned in a 4.6-second effort. Both times are on equal footing with other cars in this class.
Standard safety features on the 2014 Audi RS 5 include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, front knee airbags, full-length side curtain airbags (coupe only) and front and rear parking sensors. Optional items include a rearview camera, a blind-spot monitoring system and an automatic emergency braking system that is paired with the adaptive cruise control.
In Edmunds brake testing, the RS 5 coupe came to a stop from 60 mph in 105 feet while the Cabriolet took just a foot longer. These impressively short distances are actually about average for this high-performance segment.
Interior Design and Special Features
The RS 5's interior receives high marks for its understated design and use of top-notch materials, but functionality is hit-and-miss. Our main complaint is that the standard dash-mounted MMI controller isn't as easy to operate as the upgraded interface that comes with the optional navigation system. With the standard MMI dial, you have to go through more steps to accomplish basic tasks, while the optional MMI benefits from simplified menus and a more ergonomic console-mounted controller.
Front seats provide ample support to hold the driver and passenger firmly in place while cornering, yet are comfortable enough for all-day touring. For the rare driving enthusiast who requires even more lateral support, the optional sport seats should satisfy. Unfortunately, there's no fix for the rear seats, as the lack of head- and legroom makes them suitable for smaller passengers only.
Although the Cabriolet has a traditional soft top, its tight-fitting, multilayer construction provides impressive insulation from noise and weather that rivals more complex and trunk-space-robbing retractable hardtops. With the top stowed, the convertible's trunk provides 10.2 cubic feet of cargo space -- only 2 cubes less than the coupe. Both body styles feature folding rear seats for more capacity, a rarity among convertibles.
Getting the most out of the 2014 Audi RS 5's high-revving V8 is dead simple thanks to the launch control system, automated manual transmission and standard all-wheel drive. That tenacious traction helps the RS 5 achieve truly impressive 0-60 times, though the Audi trails most competitors' quarter-mile times due to its heavier-than-average curb weight. Numbers aside, the RS 5 feels plenty fast, and it sounds wonderful when you put the pedal to the floor.
The RS 5's turn-in is pretty astonishing, as the front end just hangs on, seemingly unwilling to relinquish its grip on the road. Credit the RS 5's standard sport rear differential, which powers the outside rear tire while the inside front wheel is braked in order to pivot the car around the turn with unexpected agility. Meanwhile, the Audi's steering is accurate, but doesn't quite have the feel you might expect from such a high-performance car.
In normal use, the Audi RS 5 strikes a livable balance between speed and civility. Unfortunately, the RS 5's suspension uses conventional dampers and springs and thus has one mode only: firm. The ride is not as brutal as harder-edged rivals like the GT-R, but it's far stiffer than a plain Jane A5. Opting for the 20-inch wheels can make the RS 5 even more fidgety on broken pavement.