2018 Audi RS 5

2018 Audi RS 5 Review

Performance and luxury come together in an uncommon fashion in the redesigned 2018 Audi RS 5.
author
by Jason Kavanagh
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

There's something intimate about a coupe, even one that's closely related to a sedan. Perhaps that's because a coupe inherently prioritizes the driver and a sole passenger over all else.

When the first-generation RS 5 debuted, it encapsulated that allure quite well. That its non-turbocharged V8 had character and wound up to stratospheric revs only underscored the sense of occasion engendered by a coupe.

The redesigned 2018 Audi RS 5, the second-generation model, trades the fizz and character of the V8 for a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6. This new engine, which can also be found under the hood of the Porsche Panamera 4S, packs a whole lot more punch, particularly down low in the rev range. However, it doesn't rev as high and it sounds much more muted than the V8. This is the quandary of modern performance engines — the demand for more power and lower fuel consumption has resulted in smaller-displacement turbocharged engines that deliver the goods but can't quite match the sparkle of a free-revving V8.

The RS 5's standard all-wheel-drive system transmits all of that power to the ground in a sure-footed way. In the bargain, it may not be quite as playful as its rear-wheel-drive competitors when it comes to spirited or track driving. At least you'll have Audi's terrific cabin environment to luxuriate in, replete with leather, carbon fiber and satin-finish metal accents. Throw in the available 8.3-inch infotainment screen and Virtual Cockpit extended instrument cluster and you've got one heck of a well-rounded, special-feeling coupe after all.



What's new for 2018

The Audi RS 5 is redesigned for 2018.

We recommend

There's only one trim level, so options are the only thing to decide on. The RS Driver Assistance package has a lot of useful features and is priced reasonably. Get the Dynamic package for the variable dampers, but skip the pricey Dynamic Plus package, of which carbon-ceramic brakes are the headlining item. Also consider the Dynamic Steering, which simply makes the car more enjoyable more of the time.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Audi RS 5 comes in only one trim level, but there are a variety of option packages from which to choose. Be aware that a few of these packages have prerequisites; that is, they require you to also opt for other option packages first.

All RS 5s are powered by a turbocharged 2.9-liter (444 horsepower, 443 pound-feet of torque) that drives all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic. The list of standard equipment includes 19-inch wheels, full LED headlights, parking sensors, automatic wipers, keyless entry and ignition, a 7-inch infotainment display, a 10-speaker sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three-zone automatic climate control, and a suite of driver assistance systems (forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert and intervention, and blind-spot monitoring).

The Dynamic Plus package is the most expensive, and it provides carbon-ceramic front brakes and adds direct tire pressure measurement. This package's prerequisite happens to be the second most expensive option, the Dynamic package, which includes variable suspension dampers and a sport exhaust. Getting Dynamic Steering, which replaces the standard fixed-ratio steering with a variable ratio system, also requires the Dynamic package.

If you want driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and a lane keeping system, tick the box for the RS Driver Assistance package. However, you'll also need to opt for the Navigation package, which adds an 8.3-inch MMI infotainment screen and Audi's Virtual Cockpit extended instrument cluster.

Premium upholstery is what the Fine Nappa Leather package nets you, which upgrades the leather on the seats, center console and door armrests and adds LED interior lighting. Audiophiles, meanwhile, will gravitate toward the Bang & Olufsen sound system.

Interested in cosmetics? Check out the Black Optic package's 20-inch wheels, gloss black trim and body-color mirrors. Additionally, a different set of forged 20-inch wheels are optional once you've selected the Black Optic package.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our first drive of the Audi RS 5 (turbo 2.9L V6 | 8-speed automatic | AWD).

Driving

The RS 5 delivers massive acceleration, incredible grip and sharp steering. Thanks to selectable drive modes and an adjustable suspension, it can also be an easygoing everyday car. Unfortunately, even with everything turned up to 11, it lacks some of the excitement we expect from RS cars.

Acceleration

Acceleration is monstrously strong, with Audi stating a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is muted, even with the adaptive exhaust. While it's incredibly fast, it lacks the character we've come to expect from RS engines.

Braking

The massive brakes are strong whether you upgrade to the carbon-ceramics or not. In fact, the upgrade doesn't change braking distance, but it does improve fade under hard use. Get the upgraded brakes if you're planning on a lot of high-performance track day events.

Steering

Dynamic Steering is an excellent option. It locks the steering to a single, quick ratio instead of varying the ratio based on vehicle speed. It provides a much sportier and direct experience, even though it doesn't improve the generally numb feedback.

Handling

The RS 5 has a huge amount of grip. Putting the adjustable suspension in Dynamic mode tames body roll, but it also makes the suspension so stiff that midcorner bumps upset the car's composure.

Drivability

The traditional eight-speed automatic may seem like a downgrade from Audi's dual-clutch automatic, but it executes quick, sharp shifts that feel appropriately aggressive in Sport and smooth in Normal mode.

Comfort

Because of the RS 5's many driver-selectable modes, noise and ride comfort can vary widely. The sport seats aren't too aggressive, and the climate control system works as well as you'd expect from an Audi.

Seat comfort

The sport seats have enough bolstering to help keep you in place, but not so much that they feel tight or restrictive. They're comfortable for long drives.

Ride comfort

In Comfort mode, the adjustable suspension is just that: comfortable. It absorbs bumps surprisingly well for a high-performance car while keeping you feeling connected to the road. In Dynamic mode, though, it becomes overly stiff, accentuating even tiny road imperfections.

Noise & vibration

The RS 5 is pretty well-insulated from wind, road and tire noise, and with the adaptive exhaust in Comfort mode the engine fades into the background. However, with the exhaust in Dynamic mode, there's an unpleasant droning from under the hood between 2,000 and 3,000 rpm.

Climate control

The climate control system works just as well in the RS 5 as in the regular A5. The controls are clearly labeled and easy to use. Left to its own devices, the system will automatically keep you comfortable.

Interior

A thoughtful interior design means most of the controls are easy to find, and the technology interfaces are easy to master. Visibility is excellent, and the materials quality is top-notch. There's not a lot of headroom, especially in the rear, but rear legroom is better than in some competitors.

Ease of use

The RS 5's design is mostly thoughtful, with easy-to-use controls and an infotainment interface that's among the best on the road. Our biggest issue is the drive mode button, which is a bit hidden and hard to reach. It's disappointing considering how important it is to this car.

Utility

The 12 cubic feet of cargo space isn't exceptional for a coupe in this class, but the space is usable enough for a weekend trip. The rear seats fold down for longer items. There are a few spots to store small items in the cabin, but nothing exceptional.

Technology

Audi's technology is among the best on the market: an easy-to-use infotainment system, a specialized Virtual Cockpit screen with enthusiast-oriented display options, and excellent driver aids for when you want to relax a bit.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.