For 2015, the Audi RS 5 gets a few minor updates to its options list, including three new wheel designs, a Black Optic Plus package and red-painted brake calipers.
Style and performance don't come together much better in Audi's lineup than they do with the 2015 RS 5. Although it's based on the rather ordinary A5 and its S5 performance variant, the four-seat RS 5 swaps in a scintillating 450-horsepower V8, giving it a 117-hp boost over the S5 and more than double the A5's output. With the standard rear-biased all-wheel drive, the RS 5 is an enthralling car to drive, second only to the otherworldly R8 in Audi's current two-door hierarchy.
Other than a pretty firm ride quality, the four-seat RS 5 is pretty agreeable for everyday driving, too. With comfortable front seats and decent cargo capacity, the RS 5 makes for a satisfying long-distance tourer. And like every Audi, the RS 5 has an impeccably crafted and well-appointed cabin that can be further upgraded with several infotainment, comfort and appearance options.
Still, there are some pretty desirable rivals in this price range. The new 2015 BMW M4 lacks the RS 5's epic V8 soundtrack, but otherwise its acceleration and handling could end up leading the pack this year. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG coupe still offers a beefy V8 for thousands less. If it's pure curb appeal you're after, look no further than the stunning two-seat 2015 Jaguar F-Type. And while we're on two-seaters, we'd be remiss not to mention the astoundingly capable 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
Any of these cars is likely to work out well for you, but with its tasty blend of luxury, style and high-revving V8 thrills, the 2015 Audi RS 5 will certainly be a tempting choice.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Audi RS 5 is a high-performance coupe or convertible (Cabriolet) offered in one well-equipped trim level. Both body styles have the same equipment, but the convertible substitutes a power-operated soft top with a rear window defroster and a wind blocker.
Standard features include 19-inch wheels with summer tires, a sport-tuned suspension, performance brakes (with larger front discs compared to the S5), dual exhaust, RS-specific styling flourishes (including "wide-body" panels for a more muscular appearance), automatic adaptive xenon headlights with washers, LED running lights and taillights, an adaptive rear spoiler, a tilt-only panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors with exterior heating, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated eight-way power front sport seats (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), driver memory functions, carbon-fiber interior trim, split-folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth phone connectivity, the base MMI infotainment system with dash-mounted controls, a 6.5-inch display and a 14-speaker (12 for the convertible) Bang & Olufsen sound system with satellite radio and iPod integration.
The Technology package is optional and includes a CD player, HD radio, Bluetooth audio connectivity, an upgraded MMI system with console-mounted controls, a 7-inch display, a navigation system with voice controls, Audi Connect (featuring Google Earth integration, Google-powered search functions, smartphone app integration and WiFi hotspot capability), a rearview camera and blind-spot monitoring.
The Driver Assist package requires the Technology package and adds adaptive cruise control and adaptive steering. The Comfort Seat package adds perforated leather seats with ventilation and less-aggressive side bolsters to both body styles, while the Cabriolet additionally receives a neck-level heating system that deletes the standard "RS" embossing on the seatbacks. The new Black Optic Plus package replaces last year's Black Optic package and consists of unique 20-inch wheels, a gloss-black grille, gloss-black window trim, body-colored mirrors, a carbon-fiber engine cover and a sport exhaust system with black finishers.
Stand-alone options include various 20-inch wheels, carbon-ceramic front brakes, red brake calipers, the sport exhaust from the Black Optic Plus package, leather/synthetic-suede "S line" front seats (not available with the Comfort Seat package) and matte-aluminum exterior trim.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2015 Audi RS 5 is a 4.2-liter V8 engine that produces 450 hp and 316 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual with shift paddles. All-wheel drive is standard.
In Edmunds performance testing, the Audi RS 5 coupe made the sprint from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, while the heavier RS 5 convertible turned in a 4.6-second effort. Both times are competitive, though not class-leading.
The coupe's EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 18 mpg in combined driving (16 city/23 highway), while the convertible is slightly behind at 18 mpg combined (16/22). These are realistic estimates, as we were able to achieve a respectable 21 mpg on the 120-mile Edmunds evaluation route in a convertible.
Standard safety features on the 2015 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 electronic aids include a rearview camera and a blind-spot monitoring system.
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 just 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-or-miss. Our main complaint is that the standard dash-mounted MMI controls aren't as easy to operate as the Technology package's upgraded interface. With the standard layout, you have to go through more steps to accomplish basic tasks, and the controls require an awkward reach beyond the shifter. With the Technology package, however, the controls move the center console to where they fall readily to hand. Moreover, this version of MMI includes upgraded software that provides simplified menus and the nifty Web-based features of Audi Connect (see above).
The RS 5's standard front seats provide ample support to hold the driver and passenger firmly in place while cornering, yet are comfortable enough for all-day touring. The optional Comfort Seat package actually reduces the size of the side bolsters for those who prefer a more relaxed approach. Unfortunately, there's no fix for the rear seats, as the lack of head- and legroom makes them suitable for small passengers only.
Although the Cabriolet has a traditional soft top, its tight-fitting, multilayer construction provides impressive insulation from noise and weather, rivaling retractable hardtops in this regard. As a bonus, the soft top leaves more room for luggage. With the top stowed, the convertible provides 10.2 cubic feet of trunk space -- only 2 cubes fewer than the coupe. Both body styles feature folding rear seatbacks for more capacity, a rarity among convertibles.
Getting the most out of the 2015 Audi RS 5's high-revving V8 is dead simple, thanks to the snappy automated-manual transmission and standard all-wheel drive. Although the RS 5 trails most competitors' quarter-mile times due to its heavier-than-average curb weight, it compensates with one of the most viscerally satisfying engines in any car on the market. The V8's refinement is superb, and it sounds wonderful when you put the pedal to the floor and allow it to reach its awe-inspiring 8,250-rpm redline. The transmission's glorious blip-throttle downshifts reinforce the sense that you're operating a very special machine.
Even without the optional carbon-ceramic brakes, the RS 5 offers exceptional stopping power, whether in daily use or on a demanding race circuit or mountain pass. Handling is pretty astonishing for a car carrying 58 percent of its weight upfront, as the front tires just hang on, seemingly unwilling to relinquish their 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 neatly around the turn.
In terms of ride comfort, the RS 5's suspension uses sport-tuned conventional dampers and springs and thus has one mode only: firm. You can certainly live with it day to day, but we're surprised the RS 5 doesn't offer adaptive dampers as an option. Going with the 20-inch wheels can make the RS 5 even more fidgety on broken pavement.
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