Test Drive: 2013 Audi RS 5 car test drives reviews luxury cars audi
2013 Audi RS 5. Click image to enlarge

As a beautiful and intimidating coupe, it doesn’t need all that much performance to look good, but as the alpha dog in the A5 line, and in the balance of power with the BMW M3 and C 63 AMG, you better bring the big guns. Audi has been tweaking and pumping up their 4.2L V8 for years, and it has seen service in all of their big cars like the A6, A7, Q7, and A8. In this application, Audi has tuned it to produce 450 hp, but you won’t see that power unless you keep on it right up to its 8,250 rpm redline, our test car’s optional sport exhaust ($1,500) gurgling a muted rumble out back.

While it boasts direct injection and revs like it’s coated in Teflon, this is an old-school racy engine that produces a whack of horsepower at the top of its range, but relatively meagre torque—316 lb-ft from 4,000 to 6,000 rpm. For reference, the supercharged V6 in the S5 makes 325 lb-ft of torque. The seven-speed dual-clutch S Tronic is one of the fastest shifting, but also most intelligent gearboxes I’ve driven. In regular operation it shifts smoothly and efficiently, but offers a Sport mode that dials up the aggression, holding gears longer for better acceleration, and manual paddle shifters offer you ultimate control at your fingertips whenever you want a gear.

Test Drive: 2013 Audi RS 5 car test drives reviews luxury cars audi
2013 Audi RS 5. Click image to enlarge

Audi claims it can reach 100 km/h is 4.7 seconds, and Car and Driver about confirms that with a 4.4-second 0–60 mph run and 12.8-second quarter-mile at 111 mph (179 km/h). The RS 5 also offers a launch-control mode so you can launch like a pro on demand.

Not bad for a 1,820-kilo coupe—that’s over 4,000 lb. for those that like nice even numbers. Still, this car is heavy, but not as heavy as the corpulent 1,955-kg S5 Cabrio Mike Schlee drove recently.

You feel it when accelerating, you feel it when braking, and you feel it when turning. Despite the weight you feel when turning, you rarely feel the magic that is Quattro all-wheel-drive managing power to all four wheels so transparent is its operation, the car simply accelerates and sticks every turn in any condition we encountered in the fall week we had it—mostly sunshine, but occasional bouts of cold and rain. Didn’t phase the RS 5 a bit.

In every aspect, the RS 5 drivetrain never overwhelms the tires or the driver with its power, it is more of a gentle giant, surging with confident grip, changing gears and speeds with alacrity, and delivering every shred of that power effectively.

Test Drive: 2013 Audi RS 5 car test drives reviews luxury cars audi
2013 Audi RS 5. Click image to enlarge

Also effective is Audi’s dynamic steering, which offers a light, easy steering at low speeds, but firms up as the speed increases, and weights up significantly during long, sweeping turns. It’s my favourite adaptive steering system as it always seems to measure out just the right amount of assistance when you want it and allows the right level of resistance to filter through when driving hard.

One option that I did not have a track sufficient to test thoroughly was the carbon ceramic brakes. At $6,000, it is a pricey option, and I would recommend saving that money unless you plan to spend a significant amount of time at the track. Surely even the standard brakes could handle an occasional lapping session or autocross duties, but the added durability and immediacy of the carbon ceramic brakes would mean sure stopping power for long, hot days on the track. That being said, these brakes are strong, though a bit too sharp and quick for regular commuting. However, their lighter unsprung weight likely contributed to the exceedingly smooth-for-a-sports-car ride the RS 5 exhibited. Good for a sports car, yes, but you will still notice any major bumps or expansion joints on bridges and other such road imperfections. Clearly.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.