James Mackintosh 13 years ago

Geneva 2010: Audi RS5 Packs 450hp V8

Remind me later
We've been expecting it for a while, and now it's here. Enthusiasts have been guessing that Audi would bring out an ultra-high performance variant of the svelte A5 Coupe since it debuted, but the specifics were a bit cloudy.  With the Geneva show approaching quickly, pictures and technical details of the RS5 Coupe have hit the 'web, and it sounds like it's going to be an absolute stormer. On the outside, the RS5 gets the typical subtle RS-style makeover we've come to know and love.  It's a fantastic look, to be sure - but then again, when you start with a car as strikingly beautiful as the A5, it's sort of hard to screw it up.  The new coupe takes a lot of styling cues from the burbling, popping TT-RS mini supercar, like the big, jowly front bumper and the neatly integrated exhaust tips.  It's aggressive without being annoyingly brash.  The fenders are flared out so subtlety you might not notice if you aren't looking.  It's a great look, and it's worlds ahead of the horrendous M6 and the dull/contrived E-Class Coupe. Anyway, we expect Audis to be pretty, and we also expect RS-spec Audis to be blindingly fast.  And while the RS5 doesn't have class-leading power numbers, it's still going to haul a whole boatload of tail.  Power comes from a revised version of the 4.2L FSI V8 that powered the last RS4, an all-aluminum direct-injected 32v unit that spits out 450 snarling horsepower at a dizzying 8,250 rpms.  Fuel cut comes at 8300rpm, and torque output sits at 317lb-ft between 4-6,000 rpm, so this thing will have some top end breathing power as well as a punchy mid-range - just what the doctor ordered.  It's interesting to note two things about this engine: it makes 110 more horsepower than the V8-powered S5 from the same displacement, and it makes the same power as the Mercedes C63's hand-built AMG V8... but with 2 liters less displacement.  All good, then. The drivetrain is interesting, as well.  Audis have used the Torsen (Torque-Sensing) center differential to apportion power between the front and rear axles of their longitudinal-engined cars since the early 90's, and the RS5 is the first departure from that standard practice.  It uses what Audi calls a crown-gear differential in the middle, with a compact set of wet clutches regulated by a computer to apportion torque - so instead of a reactive center differential (Torsen) the RS5 has an active torque split front to rear - or "torque vectoring" as it's called these days.  The center diff has a 40:60 front to rear static split for a rear traction bias, but can divert up to 70% of torque to the front and 85% to the rear depending on conditions.  In addition to this efficient, smart center diff the RS5 can also be ordered with the Audi Sport rear differential, as seen on the new supercharged S4, which actively apportions torque left to right on the rear axle.  This is the latest and greatest in all-wheel drive technology, sending the power exactly where it needs to be when it needs to be there - seriously cool stuff! The only transmission available on the RS5 will be a heavy-duty 7-speed DSG twin-clutch automated gearbox; this is the first time a DSG has been attached to the high-output 4.2 V8, which could potentially mean the R8 will drop the disappointing Lamborghini-sourced eGear sequential unit in the future.  Like other new S cars, the RS5 will be available with Drive Select - a switch that basically alters the car's personality to fit your mood.  Steering response, damping rates, throttle response, and even the amount of noise that comes out of the exhaust pipes can all be changed at the flip of a switch - kinda neat! On the inside, it's the usual utterly gorgeous Audi RS fare.  Huge, black-and-red trimmed heavily bolstered Recaros hold your keister in place, and everything is slathered with leather and carbon fibre and RS logos.  I've run out of superlatives for Audi interiors at this point, but you get where this is going. The RS5 will be bowing at the Geneva show in the next few weeks, and is expected to go on sale in Europe this spring with an estimated price of €77,700 - not cheap, but most likely worth it.