Edmunds Associate Staff Writer Will Kaufman travels to Arizona to drive the new 2018 Audi RS 5, the hottest version of Audi's grand touring coupe. Audi's RS cars have a near legendary status among enthusiasts, so we take to the road to find out if this newest version can live up to its legacy. The new RS 5 is certainly made of mind-bending numbers and capabilities, but is it more than the sum of its parts?
WILL KAUFMAN: Right now, I'm in Arizona tooling along in an Audi coupe. There are some clues that this isn't a regular A5. For example, there's this perforated leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed steering wheel, the perforated leather on the shift knob. There's carbon fiber trim bits all around the cabin, some alcantara on the door liner, and these aggressively bolstered sports seats. The biggest clue that this is not a standard A5 comes when you put it in Dynamic and do this. [ENGINE REVVING] This is the 2018 Audi RS5. [MUSIC PLAYING] So BMW's M cars and Mercedes-Benz AMG cars are relatively common sights at this point. RS cars are a little bit more mythic. There haven't been as many of them sold in the US. They're the track-tuned hardcore versions with big, powerful engines and big price tags. For this generation of RS5, the V8 of old is gone, replaced by a twin turbo-charged 2.9-liter V6 engine that produces 444 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. This car does zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds, according to Audi, which makes it faster than both the M4 and the AMG C 63. Audi made a lot of changes to their three-liter V6, the engine that you see in the S5, for this RS5. They switched from a single twin scroll turbo to a twin turbo setup. They reduced the compression ratio so that they could get more boost. This car makes about 21.5 PSI of boost at peak output. And that's double what the base two-liter turbo engine makes. Now, to handle all of those turbos and all of that power, there is a lot of functional cooling in this car. In fact, all of those big grills that you see out front have a purpose. There's a giant radiator behind the front grill. To the left is the intercooler for the turbos, and to the right is the oil cooler. You also get a transmission cooler that's laid parallel to the ground. It sort of acts as a chin spoiler, and increases downforce on the front of the car. This engine is a little quiet. The exhaust node is kind of uninspired, honestly. Under 3,000 RPM, if you're in Dynamic mode, there is some assistance to the sound of the engine. There's a little box attached to the firewall that generates some extra noise by vibrating in a way that imitates the sound of the engine. It sounds pretty natural, and I guess it's a better alternative than using the stereo system to pump in fake noise, but there is some engine drone. This car also runs on special tires. They may look like regular Hankooks, but if you look closely, you'll see a little Audi Original badge on them, which means that they were specifically developed in conjunction with Audi for use in this car. And they give you just a ton of grip. Audi also made some adjustments to their all-wheel drive system for this car. This car defaults to sending 40% of the power to the front wheels and 60% to the rear wheels. Now, the all-wheel drive system is capable of shifting as much as 70% to the front or 85% to the back. And in the back, Audi has put an active differential that looks at the steering input and the level of slip in the wheels and makes decisions about where to send power across the rear axle. And that can send up to 100% of the power it receives to either of the rear wheels. [MUSIC PLAYING] You also get an eight-speed standard gearbox rather than the dual clutch transmission that most people have come to know in Audis. Some people might complain about losing the dual clutch gearbox, but the eight-speed works quite well. It's been pretty thoroughly retuned for this application, so it executes just quick, immediate shifts, if you're using the paddles. It's been tuned by Audi, so it's smart. This particular car is equipped with the optional suspension that has three different drive modes. You get a Comfort mode, a Standard and Dynamic mode. None of these are adaptive settings. It's not sensing road conditions and trying to provide you the best response all the time. It's basically just adjusting the damper stiffness. So right now, in Dynamic mode, it's pretty stiff. You can see me bouncing around. This is a perfectly smooth freeway in any other car. And in Comfort mode in this car, it's sort of delightful. The adaptive suspension is really worth every penny if you're going to be driving this around day-to-day. [MUSIC PLAYING] Steering in this car is worth noting. When you're driving around in Standard mode, it's very light. And it's an adaptive ratio, so the slower you're going, the more responsive it is, the faster you go, the less responsive. So it's easier in parking lots and a little bit easier to maintain a straight line on the freeway. As soon as you put it in Dynamic, it locks the steering ratio. Now, that's important because it means that, no matter what speed you're going, there's always going to be the same response from the steering wheel, which means that, if you're driving on a track or a favorite road, you're not learning how the car changes as you're going at different speeds. You always have the same response. So you get to learn the road. And that's a great thing for a sports car to do. There's obviously not a lot of feel back from the front wheels on this steering, but it is very direct. It's very responsive. Turn-in is just insanely quick, and this car grips around corners like nobody's business. You also get special gauge clusters for Audi's Virtual Cockpit in the RS5. In this case, you get extra readouts, including torque and power readouts. You get a G-meter and a lap timer. The digital tachometer also acts as a shift indicator when you're in Dynamic mode, which means that it changes color when it's time to shift up, going from green, yellow, to red. This car starts at about $70,000. That's almost 30,000 more than the base A5. Obviously, you're getting all of the extra engineering that went into the engine and the transmission and the special cooling system. You also get basically a fully loaded car, Audi's MMI system, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and satellite radio and navigation, and you get Audi's great Virtual Cockpit. We love these systems so much, we gave them an award at CES this year. You also get blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, all sorts of active safety features and driver aids. Obviously, the ceramic brakes are an option. If you opt for those, you also get a higher top speed. The limiter is moved from 155 miles an hour to 174 miles an hour. Good luck with that. You also get a back seat that an adult could sit in without chopping their legs off at the knees and a trunk that you can fit a couple suitcases in. But as good as this car is-- and it is quite good-- it lacks that little extra something. I recently had a chance to drive both an RS3 and a TT RS that uses Audi's just fantastic five-cylinder engine. And that engine makes a wonderful noise. It has a lot of character in the way that it responds on the road. The V6 doesn't have a ton of character. It is a very, very fast engine that makes a lot of power, but it doesn't sound all that special. This just doesn't have the attitude or the spirit that you expect from an RS car. For me, I think I might keep looking. [MUSIC PLAYING] If you liked this video, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check us out on Facebook and Instagram at edmunds.com. [MUSIC PLAYING]
The 2018 Audi RS 5 is offered in the following submodels: Coupe. Available styles include quattro 2dr Coupe AWD (2.9L 6cyl Turbo 8A). RS 5 models are available with a 0-liter gas engine, with output up to 0 hp, depending on engine type. The 2018 RS 5 comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 8-speed shiftable automatic. The 2018 RS 5 comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.
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2018 audi rs-5 quattro 2dr Coupe AWD (2.9L 6cyl Turbo 8A), 8-speed shiftable automatic, premium unleaded (required) 21 combined MPG 18 city MPG/26 highway MPG
What options are available on the 2018 Audi RS 5?
Available Audi RS 5 2018 Submodel Types: Coupe, Convertible
Available Audi RS 5 2018 Trims: quattro
Exterior Colors: Daytona Gray Pearl Effect, Misano Red Pearl Effect, Phantom Black Pearl Effect, Prism Silver Crystal Effect, Glacier White Metallic, Ibis White, Mythos Black Metallic
Interior Colors: Black premium leather, Black leather/sueded microfiber, Black w/Crescendo Red Stitching premium leather/alcantara, Black w/Rock Gray Stitching leather/alcantara
Popular Features: 2nd Row Bucket Seats, AWD/4WD, Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Bluetooth, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Heated seats, Leather Seats, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Parking sensors, Power Driver Seat, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, Upgraded Headlights, Aux Audio Inputs, Sunroof/Moonroof, Back-up camera, Blind Spot Monitoring, Navigation, USB Inputs, Upgraded Stereo, Adaptive Cruise Control, Keyless Entry/Start, Mobile Internet, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Post-collision safety system, Pre-collision safety system, Soft Top, 360-degree camera, Heads up display, Lane Departure Warning
Engine/Mechanics: 8, 6 cylinders
Transmission: AUTOMATED_MANUAL, AUTOMATIC
Fuel Types: premium unleaded (required)
Drivetrains: all wheel drive
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