2018 Audi RS 5 Expert Review

Editor's Overview

Audi’s all-new RS 5 Coupe is a high-performance grand touring 2-door boasting 444-horsepower and a comprehensive list of technology tasked with putting that prodigious power to the ground. While the RS 5 raises the performance bar to new levels, it also papers occupants within one of the best appointed, most luxurious and innovative, passenger cabins on the market today.

You'll Like The 2018 Audi RS 5 If...

If you insist that your automotive transportation is sleek, stylish and extraordinarily fast without compromising innovation, technology and luxury, welcome home. If you demand nothing but the finest in European engineering, in a head-turning package, the new Audi RS 5 has your name on it.

You May Not Like The 2018 Audi RS 5 If...

High-performance drivers seeking a vehicle with track-honed talent, which will be used on a racing circuit (e.g., driver’s education events or autocross), are better served by the competition. The Audi is an exceptional grand tourer, with neck-snapping performance, but it is not a racecar.

What's New

The 2018 Audi RS 5 is an all-new model that is lighter, faster and technically advanced well beyond its predecessor. While last year’s acclaimed V8 engine is gone, it has been replaced with a turbocharged V6 that delivers more useable power and much better fuel efficiency.

Interior Features

Few will find fault with the beautiful passenger cabin within the 2018 Audi RS 5. A hallmark wrap-around dashboard, near-impeccable ergonomics, and brilliantly illuminated high-resolution screens simplify vehicle operation. Materials fit and finish is first class, too, an accolade that Audi has earned over the past decade.


Differentiating the RS 5 Coupe interior from its standard Audi A5 siblings are the contoured bucket seats, with RS embossing, a fat -- flat-bottom -- steering wheel with paddle shifters, and stainless-steel pedals. High quality leather and Alcantara upholstery is standard, but most shoppers will check off a few option boxes to customize their interior with premium leather and contrasting stitching.


If there’s a downside, it’s the two rear seats that are cramped and uncomfortable -- consider the space additional room for luggage and small children, not adults.

Exterior Features

While the Audi RS 5 is a high-performance derivative of the standard S5, there is no mistaking its high-performance mission. With heavy design influence from Audi’s racing 90 quattro IMSA GTO, the RS 5 Coupe features wider and flatter Singleframe signature grille, wider front and rear quarter panels (note the gray extension on the outboard side of the headlights -- that accommodates the flare), a lowered ride height, and wider wheels. There is a discreet rear spoiler on the back decklid, and the rear valance has been re-sculpted to accommodate signature oval “RS” exhaust pipes.

Driving Impressions

Without a doubt, the Audi RS 5 delivers driving dynamics to support its aggressive appearance. Press the start button and the turbocharged V6 comes to life with an emphatic roar. There is minimal throttle lag, meaning acceleration is nearly instantaneous and violently fast.


Audi’s 4-mode (Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, and Individual) Drive Select system allows the operator to tailor vehicle driving dynamics to the road, or the mood. Comfort is the most relaxed setting, and likely the best of the various modes. The ride is still firm, but handling is barely compromised -- the Audi coupe carves canyons like a champ without any sign of harshness. The story is much different in Dynamic mode, which makes the (optional) dynamic dampers violently firm -- unreasonably so (unless driving on a perfectly smooth surface, we suggest never using it). Suspension tuning aside, the steering is accurate, the brakes deliver confident stopping, and body roll is minimal. And power from the splendid turbocharged V6 feels unlimited -- the RS 5 delivers the impression that it would cruise at triple-digit speeds all day long.

Pricing Notes

Base price of the 2018 Audi RS 5 is $70,875 (which includes a $975 destination fee). As expected, the price aligns well with the $69,695 (includes a $995 destination fee) base price of the BMW M4, and the $68,495 (includes a $995 destination fee) base price of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe. Nearly all buyers in this premium segment will add about $10,000 (or more) in options, raising the average purchase price to about $80,000. Keep in mind that most shoppers aren’t seeking the least expensive in this segment -- this is an emotional purchase, based on visual impact, perceived cachet, luxury, and even the sound of the exhaust note.

Notable Equipment

Unlike standard A5 models, which are offered in several trim levels, the 2018 Audi RS 5 is all-encompassing -- there is just one premium trim, which is very well configured. The extensive list of standard equipment includes perforated leather upholstery with diamond stitching, smartphone integration, RS sport suspension, 19-inch wheels with performance tires, 3-zone automatic climate control, panoramic sunroof, and Audi pre sense basic, which is a suite of safety-related driver-assistance systems.

Notable Options

Like many premium automakers, Audi offers RS 5 buyers a rainbow of choices in terms of an exterior color -- far beyond the standard palette -- with its Audi Exclusive program. Vivid exterior colors may be matched with carbon-fiber cabin inlays, and optional wheels. Enthusiasts will want the Dynamic Package, with red-painted brake calipers, upgraded suspension, and sport exhaust, while those seeking the ultimate in cabin appointments will want the Fine Nappa leather package with contrasting stitching, LED interior lighting, and leather on the center console and armrests.

Favorite Features

2.9-LITER BITURBO V6 ENGINE

This all-new powerplant, which also powers the Porsche Panamera 4S, is wickedly strong, notably efficient, and it delivers a thrilling sound track out the exhaust pipes.


AUDI VIRTUAL COCKPIT

Virtual gauges, driving information, and real-time Google maps are displayed on a beautiful full-color 12.3-inch primary instrument panel, which is refreshed at 60 frames per second thanks to NVIDIA quad core processing power.

Under the Hood

Nobody with a pulse will miss the outgoing V8 powerplant, and the new biturbo V6 is bullish regardless of where it’s spinning on the tachometer. Tons of torque down low, combined with Audi’s impressive Quattro all-wheel drive, an 8-speed automatic transmission, and launch control, delivers dizzying acceleration off the line. Mash the throttle on the highway and the RS 5 passes slower traffic in a mere blink -- yes, it’s honestly that quick.


2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (RS 5)

444 horsepower @ 5,700-6,700 rpm

443 lb-ft of torque @ 1,900-5,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg

Editors' Notes

Audi’s all-new RS 5 Coupe is a high-performance grand tourer boasting 444-horsepower and a comprehensive list of technology tasked with putting that prodigious power to the ground -- necessary hardware when battling the acclaimed BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C 63. While the 2018 Audi RS 5 raises the performance bar to new levels, don’t be misled to believe its occupants have been forgotten. Passengers are pampered within one of the best appointed, and most luxurious, cabins offered today. If the RS 5's $71,000 starting price gives you pause, the also-delicious-though-less-exotic Audi A5 Sportback (reviewed here) offers much to less hardcore enthusiasts for a lot less money (and less magic and less performance).

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