Audi struck a cord with enthusiasts when it introduced the gorgeous A5 and S5 coupes in 2007, then doubled down with the fire-breathing RS 5 in 2013. The RS 5 sees some big changes for its second generation, but it still delivers thrills worthy of its Audi Sport RS badge.
The 2019 RS 5 has more. It offers more doors, more power, more tech, and more aggression.
It also has fewer cylinders. The new RS 5 no longer offers the 4.2-liter V-8 that sounded so good. It's now motivated by a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6 rated at 450 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. Horsepower is unchanged, but torque improves by 125 lb-ft, and that translates to real-world speed.
Audi says the RS 5 can sprint to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph, though buyers can opt to raise that to 174 mph (still a governed figure). An 8-speed automatic transmission handles shifting duties while a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system puts the turbocharged power to the ground. Buyers who want to extract the most from the RS 5 should opt for the sport differential, which can split the torque between the rear wheels for better handling.
2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback first drive
A five-door Sportback body style—akin to a baby RS 7—joins to the coupe this time around. The Sportback provides hatchback utility to go with RS performance. Both body styles are the first RS cars to launch in America before any other market.
Like its predecessor, the latest RS 5 looks mean with flared fenders, lowered suspension, dual-oval exhaust tips, and attractive 19-inch wheels (20-inch wheels are available).
Ticking option boxes will net magnetic ride control, carbon-ceramic brakes, and a carbon-fiber roof.
Inside, the RS 5 cranks up the sport theme with sport bucket seats in an available honeycomb pattern, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and a handful of RS logos, while fine Nappa leather adds to the luxury. The digital instrument cluster features a special RS operating system that can provide such information as real-time torque usage and G forces.
2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback
The latest RS 5 is Nürburgring-bred, and it shows. On the road the RS 5 is a refined and sporty grand tourer that rotates willingly through tight corners thanks in part to the optional sport differential shuffling power to the outside rear wheel. Its optional 275/30 R20 Hankook Ventus S1 Evo2 tires grip and claw with tenacity.
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The electric-assist power steering is quick and precise but doesn't provide nearly enough feedback about what's actually going on at the wheels. Both brake options are strong, but the carbon ceramics have a high, firm pedal while the standard iron setup can start to feel soft after constant punishment.
Fanboys might cry about the loss of the V-8 growl, but the V-6 sounds serious and punches hard. There's no question as to why the Audi RS 5 is a finalist for the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2019 award, but can it beat a group of tough competitors? Check back on Nov. 12 when we reveal our winner, along with the champs from our sister sites, The Car Connection, and Green Car Reports.