Whereas Audi will doubtless promote a gajillion extra Q5s than RS 5 Sportbacks stateside, this newest excessive-efficiency variant was conceived with a specific focus in the direction of the American viewers. This is not a massaged humpback whale masquerading as a excessive-efficiency machine, however slightly a stretched, expanded, and steroidal imaginative and prescient of a equally practical conveyance. Drivers: Fold these rear seats, load up the trunk, and hearth up the engine.
The RS 5 Sportback is the highest tier counterpart to the efficiency-oriented S5 Sportback ($fifty five,375) and the milder A5 Sportback ($forty three,575). Underscoring its familial relationship to the 2019 RS 5 coupé, the Sportback shares the mannequin’s $seventy five,195 beginning price — greater than the 2018s, however with extra standard gear.
However the Sportback’s usability issue is considerably larger than the coupe’s. With a 2.three inch-longer wheelbase and a roof that sits 1.1 inches greater, the modifications comprised of A-pillar again rework it into a completely extra sensible proposition. Gone are the cramped rear seats, changed with roomier lodging that ship 2.four inches higher legroom, zero.9 inches extra headroom, and 21.eight cubic ft of cargo capability – almost double that of the coupé. Fold the seats down, and also you get a compact crossover-like 35 cubic ft of stowage. The price of the extra spacious packaging? 88 kilos of additional mass and a three.eight second zero to 60 mph time, a tenth of a second behind the coupé.
The Sportback’s 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 produces the identical 444 horsepower and 443 pound-ft of torque because the coupé, however extra of the mill’s low frequency notes make their approach into the cabin because of the spacious tail part. Set the drive mode to Dynamic, and the sound symposer, which consists of a diaphragm that transmits vibrations by means of the windshield, creates a convincing (however typically too-boomy) bass observe all through the cockpit. Gone are the times of Audi’s lusciously sonorous RS V8s, and there is no doubt the modern various sounds a bit two-dimensional as compared. However the good thing about trendy turbocharging is torque, particularly a stunning plateau that stretches all the best way from a paltry 1,900 to 5,000 rpm, and naturally the improved fuel effectivity of pressured induction.
The Sportback launches forward with robust, drama-free acceleration. The Quattro all-wheel drive system, which defaults to a forty/60 torque cut up, can bias as a lot as eighty five % of torque to the rear, serving to propel the 2-ton hatchback ahead with minimal wheelspin. My car’s Hankook Ventus S1 Evo 2 rubber dealt with longitudinal forces properly, lurching ahead with nary a protest because the 275mm rubber attached with the great, heat pavement under.
Onerous cornering produces some preliminary tire scrub that provides solution to understeer earlier than the chassis settles into secure, impartial angle. Aiding the proceedings are Audi’s torque-vectoring rear differential and the entrance brakes — in our case, the non-compulsory carbon ceramic stoppers, which pair with metal rotors on the rear. Information the Sportback by means of extensive sweepers, and it satisfies with confidence bolstering surefootedness. Whereas the steering does not convey an entire lot of information, a bit extra playfulness could be accessed via throttle modulation and weight switch, which is communicated clearly by way of the chassis.
Our half-day go to to Audi Sport headquarters in Neuburg, the place Audi runs their GT3, GT4 and TCR racing packages, was much more illuminating. The test tracks are additionally used for buyer driving expertise programs, and we skilled the RS 5 Sportback’s secure, surefooted dealing with traits on a collection of moist monitor configurations. As a result of we had one other full day and a half of driving forward in our Sportbacks, Audi opted to save lots of our tires by lending us RS5 coupés for the street course laps. Even with its shorter wheelbase and 88 fewer kilos of physique fats, the coupé feels predictable however considerably heavy within the corners, requiring a little bit of preparation and planning when getting into corners scorching. Stay affected person with entry speeds, and the RS 5 rewards with poise and ample energy. Go in over your head, and you will most definitely really feel the wrath of the coupé’s tonnage because it barrels via the nook, although considered inputs make it attainable to recuperate from boneheaded maneuvers.
It is right here on the razor’s edge the place the turbocharger’s double-edged sword turns into obvious: The temporary spooling course of can require a little bit of attentiveness when adjusting the throttle mid-nook. It isn’t that the turbo lag is so large, it is simply that the connection between throttle enter and engine output can typically be essential milliseconds aside, demanding a gently calibrated proper foot pedal. Autocross fanatics also needs to word that optimum setting, when outfitted with the out there dynamic steering, is Dynamic, which fixes the steering ratio. Different driving modes modify the ratio on the fly, which makes it more durable to take care of a decent leash on the RS5’s exact trajectory.
Again on the German Autobahn, the RS5 feels snug cruising at low triple digit speeds, providing a softened edge to the expertise with its cozy massaging Napa leather-based seats and niceties just like the Google Earth show on Audi’s digital cockpit display. Additionally appreciated is the RS5’s adherence to bodily switches and knobs in an age when many automakers (together with Audi themselves) are shifting to a primarily touchscreen-based mostly setup, which might be irritating to make use of at velocity or on bumpy roads.
Outfitted with the Dynamic Plus package deal, which raises prime velocity from one hundred fifty five mph to 174 mph, my test car pulled arduous by way of its first seven gears, winding out at an indicated (and doubtless optimistic) one hundred seventy five mph earlier than I needed to sluggish for visitors. Whereas extra stability and steering directness would have been preferable at these elevated velocities, it is also essential to contextualize the RS5 Sportback towards its audience: The typical proprietor is likelier to be whipping this sedan by way of city landscapes and probably the odd winding street than Vmaxing it on the Autobahn. (Keep in mind, it was developed with an eye fixed towards American clients.) It isn’t that the RS 5 is such a fish out of water because it approaches the one hundred seventy mph mark — which was approached a number of occasions — however slightly the truth that, on the finish of the day, the RS 5 Sportback is a $seventy five,000 sports activities sedan, not a six-determine übersled constructed to compete with the higher ends of the Panamera, 7-Collection, and S-Class lineup.
Although the outer edges of its efficiency won’t be razor sharp sufficient to encourage weekend monitor day excursions, the genius of the Audi RS 5 Sportback lies in its format. Whereas its Mercedes-AMG and BMW M car competitors undercut its appreciable four,057-pound curb weight, the RS 5 Sportback’s spacious interior and beneficiant cargo capability — sufficient to swallow 5 golf luggage — makes it an intriguing proposition for actual-world utilization. It’s going to deal with an impromptu stoplight drag in addition to an city time assault run to the ironmongery shop, and as soon as there it’s going to simply swallow plus-sized cargo. It is probably not the stuff of your deepest darkest ALMS fantasies, however the RS 5 Sportback proves versatile and involving sufficient to fulfill all however the pickiest of actual-world driving fanatics.
– 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback First Drive Review –
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