It might have an Audi badge glued onto it, but the RS5’s V6 petrol engine is shared with the Porsche Panamera 4S. Thanks to its turbochargrs, this engine feels much more urgent low down in the rev range than the the previous V8-powered RS5.
Even so, it’s worth revving the V6 hard to make the most of its performance. Do this and the RS5’s quattro four-wheel drive system provides traction to slingshot you off the line, making the 3.9sec 0-62mph time seem entirely plausible. Once on the move, though, it never feels quite as quick as an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, BMW M4 Competition Pack or the Mercedes-AMG C63. You’ll still be in licence-losing territory in no time at all, though.
The automatic gearbox has eight well-chosen ratios. It operates smoothly when you’re driving sensibly, although there is a noticeable delay to change down when you ask for a sudden burst of acceleration. It’s smooth and obedient when you take control manually, too, but isn’t quite as snappy to shift as the dual-clutch gearboxes in rivals.
Set the car into Dynamic mode on the Audi Drive Select system and the automatic gearbox response sharpens up; it’s quicker to change down, allowing much easier overtakes. It also holds onto gears for longer so you can build up through the rev range for even more power. Dynamic also ramps up the noise from the optional sports exhaust; in this setting, you’ll find the engine howls and parps when you’re revving it, but the downside is a pronounced drone at speed. In Comfort mode, the engine note is more refined, but is drowned out by the rumbling road noise.
Dynamic mode also adds weight to the steering, but it’s still quite heavy even in Comfort mode, making it difficult to turn out of T-junctions or parking spaces sharply. Enter a series of corners and you’ll find that it’s easy to place the front of the car, but while the optional Dynamic Steering system (which varies how far you have to turn the wheel, depending on speed) certainly helps you get around tight turns easier, it also reduces the sense of connection with the front wheels and makes it less instinctive to know what they’re doing. The M4, C63 and Giulia Quadrifoglio all steer with more purpose. You’re also always aware of the RS5’s mass; it may be lighter than previous models but its heft does make it feel a bit hesitant to change direction quickly. This is even more the case with the Sportback variant, which is 120kg heavier than the Coupé.
However, no matter how hard you push, the RS5 never feels like it’s going to get too out of shape. We do miss the sense of adjustability and downright hooliganism offered by the rear-wheel-drive Guilia, M4 and C63, but in the dry, the traction you get out of corners from Audi’s quattro system is virtually unbeatable.
So far we’ve only tried the RS5 with the optional Dynamic Ride Control adaptive dampers and 20in wheels, a combination that certainly isn’t great for smoothness. The ride is softest in Comfort mode, but while it’s not bone-breakingly uncomfortable, you can feel plenty of bumps over road surface imperfections. Auto mode provides the best balance of both comfort and body control, but Dynamic gives you an even firmer ride all the time. Whichever mode you choose, long journeys will have you quickly tiring of the vibrations that bumps send through the steering wheel.