Audi RS5 Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Audi hasn’t much changed the RS5 in its short absence, so it returns with a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 pumping 444bhp and 442lb ft through all four wheels, but with 60 per cent going to the rear axle and UK cars getting a standard Sport Differential to better involve the rear axle in proceedings. Vital when its key rivals are rear-driven, you’d think.

Only the RS5 is different. It’s not a fire-breathing super saloon like an M3 or C63; it feels more restrained, better at ease with everyday life and less likely to deafen onlookers with a cacophony of exhaust artillery fire. It’ll slip into family normality so much better, particularly given there’s a five-door version with a proper hatchback, something its rivals don’t offer (C63 estate notwithstanding).

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Nothing wrong with being a practical performance car?

In the RS5's class, thrills matter. And its oddly soft approach does mean it’s less exciting. It drives almost like an electric car, with quite preposterous acceleration out of corners but not a huge amount of drama within them. You’d have to be doing outrageous things with this car to be forced into inputting any corrective steering lock.

Sure, in day-to-day driving that makes absolute sense. It even rides well. Objectively, this is a more effortless car to drive quickly than its rivals. But more fun or involving? Absolutely not. An AMG or M car isn’t actually about smoke pouring out of the wheel arches away from the world of car websites or YouTube videos; it’s about the feel and involvement it provides on a really good road. The RS5 doesn’t bother with any of that. It chases speed ruthlessly and will ultimately leave keen drivers feeling like a bit of a spare part.

Does it understeer?

At the limit, yes - despite Audi protesting the Sport Differential makes it agile and alive. It doesn't. But you're unlikely to ever get to the limit to discover this because it's all just so crushingly dull. No steering feel, spongey brakes, lumpen body control and unresponsive gearshifts. Happily the Competition variant shows signs of life: the lighter rims and ceramic brakes reduce unsprung mass and (at long, long last) Audi has realised the gearbox shouldn't auto upshift in manual mode. Incredible scenes - just a pity all the rivals worked that out decades ago. 

But it's too little, too late, for too much money, and the Comp isn't even being offered to UK buyers, since the RS5 has bombed sales-wise here, while the C63 Coupe and M4 ran away with the market. Deservedly so. 

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

Audi RS5 RS 5 TFSI Quattro Vorsprung 2dr Tiptronic
  • 0-623.9s
  • CO2208.0g/km
  • BHP450
  • MPG
  • Price£86,065

the cheapest

Audi RS5 RS 5 TFSI Quattro 2dr Tiptronic
  • 0-623.9s
  • CO2208.0g/km
  • BHP450
  • MPG
  • Price£68,165

the greenest

Audi RS5 RS 5 TFSI Quattro 2dr Tiptronic
  • 0-623.9s
  • CO2208.0g/km
  • BHP450
  • MPG
  • Price£68,165

Variants We Have Tested

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