Judas Priest’s “Turbo Lover” comes on Hair Nation just as I approach my quarry. I gun it and the twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6 sounds a deep, resonant note as it rockets the car forward. The road begins to snake left and right, and the engine and 8-speed automatic chomp at the bit as I exit each turn. I find myself agreeing with Rob Halford: no matter how good the naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8 in the last RS 5 was, I’m now a turbo lover. Moreover, I can finally feel what this sport coupe does in its natural environment.
2018 Audi RS 5, U.S. media drive, February, 2018Enlarge Photo
I’m not disappointed. The cornering is almost supernaturally flat. The 275/30R20 Hankook Ventus S1 Evo2 tires grip the pavement with tenacity. The car rotates willingly through those tight corners thanks in part to a sport differential that can send all of the available power to the outside wheel. And the electric-assist power steering is quick and precise, though I wish it told me more about what’s going on where the rubber meets the road.
That fun-to-drive character is the first thing you need to know about the 2018 Audi RS 5. We’ve already reviewed the RS 5 from our first drive in the tiny European country of Andorra, but I learned a few more things about Audi’s powerful and sinister sport coupe in our second dance with the car. Those insights follow.
It’s Nürburgring-bred and it has the equipment to prove it
The RS 5 is a high-performance sport coupe that competes with the likes of the BMW M4, Mercedes-AMG C63, Cadillac ATS-V, and Lexus RC F, and it makes no apologies to any of them. That’s because Audi Sport engineers subject the car to 10,000 miles on the Nürburgring, 5,000 miles during development, and another 5,000 miles of durability testing of the finished product.
Audi A5-line product manager Anthony Garbis likens one mile on the Nürburgring to nine miles on the road. A lot of serious rubber, braking, cooling, and aerodynamics are needed to handle that kind of punishment, and the RS 5 has the hardware. The alloy wheels are large at 19x9 inches but they are forged and weigh only 22.5 pounds each. The 20s add another 5 pounds apiece, but they look even better and come with 10 mm wider tires. Buyers get a choice of summer tires from Hankook, Continental, or Pirelli, and they are all wide and square, either 265/35R19s or 275/30R20s.
The base brakes consist of ventilated 14.8- and 13.0-inch rotors with six-piston front calipers and sliding rear calipers. Audi also offers 15.7-inch carbon ceramic front rotors for those who want even more braking performance.
I found that the carbon ceramics create a high pedal that caused me to stop short and quick before I acclimated. The standard iron brakes withstood the punishment of my spirited backroads run, but the pedal was considerably softer. The carbon ceramics would be my choice for track days.
For cooling, the RS 5 has two extra radiators on the passenger’s side, one for the engine and one for the for the 8-speed automatic transmission. Both of these are fed air through the big duct that flanks the grille on the passenger side. The exhaust gases are cooled with a more effective air-to-water intercooler instead of the typical air-to-air intercooler, and it gets air through the duct on the driver’s side. A standard radiator is located front and center, and it receives a full blast of air from a wider and flatter grille than the one found on the S5. In front of the main radiator is a uniquely placed radiator that lies parallel to the ground; it provides engine oil cooling and helps seal off the underside of the car. Audi says it accounts for 6.6 pounds of downforce at 62 mph.