This isn’t the next great thing. Nope, it’s probably not even the last great thing. By my reckoning, it might be the one before the last great thing. But it might just be the greatest thing.

Of course, the things I’m referring to aren’t sea cucumbers or stock portfolios, rather they are the luxury sports coupes and sedans, a segment for generations dominated by BMW’s M3. This niche of the sports car market are cars based not on dedicated sports car platforms, but originating from the popular compact luxury class, which has now ballooned into mid-size proportions.

This thing is the 2015 Audi RS 5, the nearest anyone has come to dethroning the mighty M3. Of course, it all depends on the day of the year. On a warm and sunny track day in June, the lighter and purer RWD M3 is everything you could ask for in a car that can just as easily be a daily commuter. But when the going gets slippery, on a cold and rainy day in April, or during a heavy snowstorm in December, suddenly the M3 seems like only a fair-weather fiend, and the RS 5 rips right on by as a set of serious winter tires lock onto any path that its ground clearance will allow. The M3 or M4 or even M4 convertible may be functional in the snow, but will never have the same mastery in foul weather that Audi’s new Quattro coupe promises.

So the question you have to ask yourself is this: peak performance in ideal conditions or superb performance in all conditions your preferred transportation. The Audi RS 5 is the one-car solution to this dilemma, and its flexibility was on display in a period that saw warm sunny weather mixed with sub-zero temperatures and cold rainy days.

Further reinforcing that practicality, our time in the RS 5 overlapped our test of Lexus’s new RC F, an emotional coupe but limited by its focus on fair-weather performance, though winter tires may have helped its cause.

But let’s get down to brass tacks and talk RS 5. While you could say the heart of the RS 5 is its sweet, sonorous V8, in this test it was the stability and security of the Quattro AWD that sets it apart from rivals and makes its mark. Since the early 80s, Audi’s legacy of AWD performance cars, beginning with the Quattro Coupe, has earned favour with a particular niche of all-weather performance seekers, those that want to drive fast up to the slopes on their way to a day of fun in the snow. The RS 5 would look quite fetching with a ski rack and a set of Rossignols strapped in, the big grille and low wide stance menacing and the undisguised practicality curiously contrarian. But I digress.

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