Audi RS5 Sportback: Versatility at its finest
Performance and comfort? We often get told we cannot have it all. Well, the Audi RS5 Sportback may be the answer.
We all dream of having a sense of stability in our lives and have an anchor that keeps us grounded amidst all the rollercoaster moments in life. This anchor could be a loving family, amazing friends, a dream job or hobby you love, financial stability, or… it could be an RS5. Just like you do not often meet people who have their lives all figured out, rare are the cars that have it all figured out for you.
As we go on with our city life, stress piles up from what happens in our personal lives and the urban environment isn’t helping much. Bad day at work? The rush hour traffic, excessive traffic lights and city noises all around leave very little patience left for cars with uncomfortable and loud interiors. It is precisely in this kind of scenario that you become grateful for Audi’s versatile RS5 Sportback. Hop into a quiet and comfortable cocoon to escape from your long day. Besides, you know that this car is only one drive mode away to put a smile back on your face.
When first meeting the Audi RS5,
the sharp and beautiful face of the car is what strikes instantly. Contrasting with the boxy rear, lines on the bonnet and on the side of the car aggressively contour the RS5’s features. It is also accompanied by a more than decent amount of carbon fiber from front to back (front and back lip, side skirts, side mirrors and engine cover) though it does come at a cost of ¥880,000 (Approx. $8,500; £6,500). Then, there is the beautiful Sonoma Green paint named after the sunny and verdant hills of the winemaking region of Sonoma, California. Under the sunlight, the paint reveals some golden hues that will make you want to sip a chilled Chardonnay under the warm Californian sun.
While all those details reinforce the attractiveness of the RS5, it does take a moment to wrap your head around the decorative grills near the headlights, exhausts and front fenders. Luckily, this car is far from being short of surprises and one them being the sportback aspect of this car. Not too excited with the idea of getting a sedan or even an estate? Fear not, Audi’s Sportback is here to save the day! Sleek and sporty, it provides comfort and space, without having to sacrifice its silhouette for it. Perhaps the biggest surprise on this RS5 has to do with the oval-shaped sport exhausts. Not only are they massive, if you look closely you notice that they are real. Way to take the competition down Audi!
Moving on to the interior,
we immediately notice similarities with the exterior: there is a lot of carbon fiber (a ¥100,000; Approx. $950; £750 option) but it does not mean it takes on a full-on race car look either. As a German car, the atmosphere feels proper and organized with the right amount of carbon fiber surrounding the cockpit and it will perfectly fit both the business and leisure aspects of your life.
The standard massage seats stitched with the RS5 logo are comfortable but will also hold you in place for sportier moments. Change the ambient light to red to emphasize adrenaline packed drives, and turn it to blue to unwind on the highway as you drive home. But for a base price of ¥13,020,000 (Approx. $125,000; £96,000), we simply wish the plastic bits matched the interior’s overall high standard. Luckily, 2020 promises quite a few upgrades, including a swap from plastic to metallic paddle shifters. In contrast, the steering wheel is very satisfying. Smaller than what you’d find on other German models, it fits perfectly in your hands and the perforated leather gives it a very sporty aspect.
In the RS5, rear seat passengers weren’t forgotten. The back is a spacious place where seats feel cushioned. There is a proper retractable armrest with two firm cup holders. The armrest opens up to a small tray which you can use as a small table to put your phone or tablet, pen and notebook, and other small goods. These rear seats are of course retractable, transforming the 480L of boot space into 1,300L.
In terms of tech, the RS5 is well equipped too. We first find the digital dashboard we’ve been seeing in other Audi models and though a little crowded with text and numbers, you get to have every information at your disposal from the traditional speedometer and tachometer to a full screen GPS map.
When your copilot suddenly takes over the center screen to change the music to his (or her) favourite playlist, it’s a fight-free interaction since you still get to look at your own dashboard map. The heads up display is even safer and more convenient, but extra convenience does come at a price of ¥140,000 ($1,300; £1,000). Options are altogether reasonable in the RS5 and as a nice surprise, the interior is provided with a Bang & Olufsen sound system. It is a clear and refined sound which you actually get to enjoy thanks to the well insulated environment. No road noise, only the good things like exhaust sounds get filtered in.
There is something inherently satisfying about the RS5’s adaptability.
Hot laps around the race track? Then taking your tired self home in a comfortable environment? Done and done. The RS5 effortlessly cruises on the highway and its cruise control is one of the most reliable we’ve ever experienced, as it breaks, accelerates and changes lanes in the most imperceptible manner. Overall, the RS5’s performance can be described as smooth, safe and detail-oriented. However the transition from Comfort to Dynamic mode is night and day and we owe a lot of it to its 2.9L twin-turbo V6 that pumps out 444 hp and 443 lb-ft.
Once in Dynamic mode, the RS5’s throttle responses become sharper and its suspensions suddenly become much, much stiffer. With the help of Audi's Quattro technology and the optional ¥840,000 ($8,000; £6,200) front ceramic brakes, it obeys your every command with an effortless and almost point-and-shoot level of precision. Though it cannot exactly be called launch control, the car builds boost and with power going to all four wheels with 40:60 split (Front:Rear), the RS5 jumps off the line instantly and does its 0 to 100km/h cleanly in 3.9 seconds.
The RS5 is so obedient that it feels satisfying: when diving into a corner, it will follow the exact line you had drawn in your mind. It gives you the right amount of fun without having to worry about ending up in a wall. Even with the lack of drama, you do get to feel a sense of control through the precise steering wheel. Neither too hard nor too loose, it’s been adjusted to feel perfectly in between the two extremes.
The RS5 is a multi-faceted, good looking car that ticks all the boxes.
May it be comfort, practicality or sportiness, it caters to your every need but it has not been without controversy. As previous generations were equipped with naturally aspirated V8s, purists have long looked back with a hint of regret. In the RS5’s defense, this has been the same old debate that rivals such as the BMW M3 also had to face. The present may be all about smaller, turbocharged engines, but the electric future will surely bring even more debate.
The RS5 goes fast and feels aggressive but in a well behaved way. While some of its German rivals have taken a bolder step, the RS5 remains more predictable and could have taken a more radical stance on its performance. However, we must praise Audi for this mature and realistic approach to what a sporty 4-door car should be. Stuck in the rush hour traffic jam, there is perhaps nothing more satisfying than sitting in a comfortable car that is only one button away to one sporty escapade.