Analog or digital?
There’s a lot of electronic wizardry in the RS 5; Vorsprung Durch Technik, right?
And yet, it’s brilliantly analog to drive. It enters a sharp switchback with minimal body lean, and it follows the curve with so much grip that it feels like the tires are digging into the asphalt to keep the car pointed in the right direction. The steering is well-weighted, though the feedback you get from the front wheels—especially in dynamic conditions—could be improved. The RS 5 is undoubtedly the kind of machine that’s more enjoyable to drive on a fast-paced road than on a track.
The chassis is on the good side of predictable. It’s not boring by any means, but after waltzing through sharp turns for a few miles you have a better-than-decent idea of what it’s going to do and, importantly, what it’s not going to do. It’s not an intimidating performance car; it’s one that actually builds your confidence.
The RS 5 receives an evolution of the second-generation S5’s new suspension. It uses a five-link configuration on both ends, which helps bring out the car’s athletic character and lets you make what you want out of it. Conventional steel springs come standard, but my tester was fitted with three-stage adjustable dampers referred to as Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) on the options sheet. DRC relies on a network of oil lines to compensate for body roll under hard cornering.
Neither suspension option changes the RS 5’s ride height, which is merely 0.3 inches lower than the S5’s. Wide, low-profile 265/35 tires are wrapped around the default, RS-specific 19-inch forged wheels. The optional 20-inch alloys come with 275/30 rubber.
Wide brake pads hug 14.8-inch front, 13-inch rear rotors bigger than the steel wheels on the original Austin Mini. The hardware brings the RS 5 down to a stop with no fuss, regardless of whether you’re slowing down for cows in the road—a very real part of driving in Andorra—or approaching a toll booth on a French freeway.
The hint of turbo lag at launch goes away as soon as the revolutions rise—and rise they do. The V-6 loves to spin with a satisfying growl that bounces off the Pyrenees. The torque comes on thick and low, the turbos begin screaming away in sync, and the RS 5 moves down the road with a real sense of urgency.
Select the Auto mode and the ride becomes more compliant, providing the kind of imperturbable, bug-obliterating cruising prowess you’d expect from 3,600 pounds of Germany’s finest steel. Or, if you’ve had enough high-speed shenanigans, dial in Comfort mode. The RS 5 is always sporty, even in Comfort, but it becomes more mother-in-law-friendly.