We had the pleasure to drive different versions of the Audi A5 in different weather conditions and on some exotic locations. However there is one particular version we have been waiting for ever since the A5 was launched in 2007; we had to show a lot of patience but now its here, the new Audi RS5 Coupé!

On a basic level, the RS5 is quite similar to the S5 we drove a year ago. But there are a few important differences. For instance, it has boxier wheel arches that make it look wider and more macho, massive front air intakes, R8-styled exhaust tips and an integrated boot lid spoiler that automatically deploys above 120km/h. In the end the differences are subtle but noticeable.

The most potent and latest A5 family member is surely the best possible way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the most iconic cars of all time – the Audi Quattro. So at the end of last year Audi offered us the chance to take the sports car for a decent ride and our road test here tells the story.

Road Test 2011 Audi RS5 01

The engine setup of the RS5 is quite similar to the RS4. The same high-revving naturally aspirated 4.2 liter V8 sits under the hood and you’ll be pleased to know that it is still hand built in Gyor, Hungary. The main difference is the setup of the engine. It produces 30hp more than the RS4, in total 450hp and has a compression ratio of 12.3:1. The maximum torque of 430Nm of torque is available between a less hectic 4,000rpm and 6,000rpm. The redline is set at 8,300rpm, if the oil temperature is high enough.

The power is converted to the road via a reinforced S-tronic seven-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox and then to through the new quattro system featuring a crown-gear center differential that splits torque 40/60 front/rear under normal circumstances. Surprisingly no manual transmission is on offer, so automatic is the only way to go with. It is the first time we’ve fancied an automatic setup in an Audi. At cruising speed enough power is available to do quick and easy overtaking and pulling out of lower speed corners is a much easier task than expected. Somehow the setup feels more crisp, reactive and nimble than we’ve experienced before, but still we had to keep the V8 revving within its 4000-to-6000-rpm sweet spot.

The all-new-four-wheel-drive system gets a decent upgrade through the self-locking crown-gear differential which can vary torque between the front and rear with the capability of sending 70 percent of available torque forward or 85 percent back as conditions dictate. The ability to deliver more torque to the rear axle takes the car to a new level of dynamism. Audi have also added a software-based, wheel-selective pseudo-torque-vectoring system. When needed it applies the brakes to the inner front wheel during cornering to effectively curb understeer.

Road Test 2011 Audi RS5 02

The Audi Drive Select is available at the heart of the dashboard. The system has options ranging from comfort, dynamic, auto and individual which also applies the sport differential. Other variations can be setup, such as sharpening or softening the performance of the dual-clutch transmission, changing the mindset of the V8, improving the stiffness of the steering or altering the tunes played by the exhaust system. Choosing the right setup is a task on its own. The engine noise is too present in dynamic mode due to higher revs, the mindset of the V8 is too calm in comfort and auto somehow tries to vary the stiffness of the steering.

The front brakes are uprated from 13.6 to 14.4 inches for the base steel setup, and a carbon-ceramic option brings 15 inch front vented and cross-drilled rotors (rears are 12.8 inch vented and drilled steel rotors in all cases). The setup also includes numerous RS-badges on the front, back and in the interior of the sports car. The cabin is a pleasant place to be. The seats are hard, but give enough support in high speed corners. The Audi electronics are a known option and don’t differ with respect to any other model in the A5 line-up. Our test car was packed with every possible option available, such as a rearview camera, park distance control, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and interior carbon fiber trim.

Road Test 2011 Audi RS5 03

Overall we can conclude that the RS5 is a true sports car yet is remarkably easy to drive and with ride comfort adjustments – if requested – to suit your personal comfort or dynamic wishes. The familiar Audi high-quality cabin is available as standard, which transports four adults in a pleasantly civilized way within the city and at cruising speeds on the motorways. If needed, the RS5 offers enough for a high-speed run thanks to the sport differential, four-wheel-drive Quattro system, and tuned suspension delivering a surprising cornering effect.

It’s main competitors are Mercedes’ C63 AMG and the current BMW M3. Both are quicker in a straight line than the Audi RS-family member. The RS5 isn’t quite as raw as it’s German rivals, which is our biggest negative. Even though the RS5 is a deeply impressive sports car, it lacks some of the sports car feeling in its efforts to provide grand touring credentials. As a whole it won’t change automotive history like the original Quattro did, but it is certainly a worthy successor to that car.

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