2013 Audi RS 5. Click image to enlarge
Lastly, the interior. The RS 5 features the familiar Audi dash that wraps around the nav screen (the navigation and parking camera and sensors are a $3,200 option) and console filled with high quality switchgear to match the impeccable materials throughout. And while I normally cringe at interiors dressed in carbon fibre, Audi keeps it from being gaudy by using it sparingly around the shifter console and in door inserts, and mixes in satin-effect aluminum and piano black plastic for a monochromatic but multi-textured environment. With the interior spared the carbon-fibre overload, there was enough leftover to cover the engine in a large plank of it—in this application, I think it’s pretty damn cool!
The sport seats are smooth but supple nappa leather that lock you into place with high bolsters and are thoroughly adjustable for a solid fit. However, they are firm, and remind you that these are sport seats, not like the luxury thrones in the Mercedes-Benz SL 550 and S 350. Apparently there is a back seat, although I didn’t really notice when I was driving it. Will anyone care? They might care that there’s a reasonably sized trunk, easily enough for a weekend road trip for a couple, and even enough for my monstrous hockey bag.
The flat-bottomed steering wheel is a masterpiece of ergonomic sculpting wrapped in rich, perforated leather. The stereo was a $1,000 Bang & Olufsen upgrade, but I can’t imagine the stock stereo would be insufficient, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable for a 505-watt 14-speaker sound system.
Then again, by the time you’ve packed this many options onto the RS 5’s $77K base price, you might as well fork over the grand for the stereo. If you’re looking for the grand touring aspects of this car, skip the hardcore ceramic brakes, and if you’re looking for the performance qualities, skip the fancy paint, stereo and cosmetic upgrades, either way saving about half of the $14,450 in options on this test car. Then again, if you’re looking for the cachet and conversation starters, get ‘em all.
As capable as the RS 5 Coupe is, I just don’t see it as a true performance car (as I would the M3)—perhaps some track time is required to convince me… It is a spectacular drivetrain wrapped in one of the most alluring designs on the market, dialed all the way up to eleven with the Titanium package and rims, but for the as-tested price of 95 grand, you can find better dedicated sports cars. However, within its niche of supersports compact luxury coupes, it is the more refined and sophisticated of the triumvirate of German compact sport sedans (A4, 3 Series, C-Class). The Mercedes C 63 and BMW M3 both edge towards single-minded track dedication, while the RS 5 offers a much more livable compromise for everyday life. This is a car that might be limited in its appeal—mostly to devoted Audiphiles—but it is all that is good about this brand and a spectacular piece of automotive decadence for the few that opt for it.
Pricing: 2013 Audi RS 5
Base price: $77,000
Options: $14,450 (Titanium Package, $2,000; Misano Red Pearl, $750; sport exhaust, $1,500; carbon ceramic brakes, $6,000; navigation and parking system, $3,200; Bang & Olufsen sound system, $1,000)
Freight & PDI: $1,995
A/C Tax: $100
Price as tested: $95,640