Audi RS5 Sportback : Our observations after a day of driving

High-speed stability is great and as one would expect with the Quattro all-wheel drive. It never seems to lose composure and it even corners flat.

Driving the Audi RS5 Sportback

The RS5 uses a V6 twin-turbo engine producing 444 BHP and 600 Nm. The V8 from the previous generation has been dropped in favour of this 2.9L engine. It's almost the same as the 3.0L V6 powering the newer Q7s, and Porsche Cayenne/Panamera, but with a slightly shorter stroke.

I slid into the driver's seat, pressed the start button and was greeted with a gentle roar from the engine which then settled into a distinct thrum. It's a bit too silent for a vehicle wearing RS badges all over and in spite of opening the exhaust valves, it doesn't make much noise except at high revs. That's about the only negative of the drivetrain.

The EA839 engine packs in quite the punch. While it doesn't suffer from any turbo lag as such, once the turbos spool, it's really something and gives you a strong shove back into the seat. Pottering about in comfort mode, the gearbox shifts early and very smoothly. In fact, for the first couple of minutes, I thought it was a DSG due to the low-speed feel and the hesitation to downshift. Once I saw the car go into D8, I realised it was the ZF8 transmission, but I still had to Google it to confirm. Audi has done a good job with the tuning of the gearbox, and it gives one a good whack while changing gears at full throttle. The mid-range is where the most fun lies. It picks up speed like no one's business and as soon the turbos spool, it's a different beast altogether. The motor seems to never let up and goes strongly to the redline again and again. Launching the RS5 from a standstill was the most fun I've had on these damp monsoon roads in a while. In spite of the power and my brake boosting, there was negligible traction loss even on soaking wet roads and that felt like the party trick for this car. With the short first few gears and the rev-happy and punchy engine, giving the RS5 full throttle in any situation is entertaining.

In the city, the first thing I noticed is how busy the suspension felt. At speeds up to 45 km/h, I could feel almost every imperfection on the road with a lot of lateral movement too. It is well damped and doesn't thud about, but still, adaptive dampers would have made it much better. At slightly higher speeds, the ride settles a fair deal, but, "comfortable", isn't exactly how I would describe the suspension. It's worth mentioning that it takes medium and larger bumps much better than one would expect, always staying silent apart from a thud if one hits a large bump. I found it surprising that a suspension, which was so pliant on medium bumps, was just so busy at lower speeds.

High-speed stability is great and as one would expect with the Quattro all-wheel drive. It never seems to lose composure and it even corners flat. Direction changes are easily done, and the steering is quick and accurate though it does really lack feel. One would wonder what's happening with the wheels and it could give an artificial sense of security. Still, pushing the car isn't a task and it feels like it's doing what it's meant to do, especially with the Quattro refusing to let go of the traction.

The brakes have good stopping power, and with the large calipers at the front, I only got the slightest amount of fade after some hard driving, which is commendable.

All in all, it's a useable, practical and fast sportback which makes a compelling case for itself. It does have its shortcomings, and while may not feel as mechanical as an M or as wild as an AMG, it certainly does carve a niche for itself.

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