This is Audi’s new RS5 out on test on the roads surrounding the Nurburgring, and under the bonnet is a 450bhp twin-turbo V8 that’ll let this coupe take the fight to BMW’s M3. And this RS5 is also our first chance to see the tweaks that’ll appear the A5 facelift in 2010.
A V8? So this new Audi RS5 is hardly in line with the times?
Not at all, especially when you consider that the next M3 is expected to run a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine. But Ingolstadt wants to take the fight to BMW, so will equip its new RS5 coupe with a direct-injection 4.2-litre V8 that produces 450bhp, 332lb ft and rev to 8000rpm – BMW’s naturally aspirated M3 currently has 414bhp by comparison.
And to match the BMW, the RS5 will be available with both a six-speed manual and a seven-speed twin-clutch ‘box for lightning fast gear changes – the RS5 should reach 62mph in 4.5 seconds.
We know Audi’s can produce big bhp numbers, but will it be any good to drive?
Yes, because Audi is pulling out all the stops to make the RS5 an M3-beater. The engine will be mounted as far back as physically possible (in an Audi at least) to ensure a 50:50 weight distribution, while the RS5 also features wider front and rear racks and 20-inch wheels.
And of course this Audi is equipped with a Quattro drivetrain, plus the RS5 will also feature the company’s rear active sport differential – accelerate into a corner and it’ll apportion more torque to the outer rear wheel, helping the car steer.
>> Click 'Next' to read more about the Audi RS5
Quattro and a twin-turbo V8 means it’ll be a bit lardy, right?
Not if Audi’s plan works out. The S5 weighs 1630kg, and Audi hopes to carve 50kg from that figure with the use of lightweight alloy for those 20-inch wheels, other alloy parts throughout the body and carbonfibre and aluminium trim.
Other changes over and above the S5 include the junking of the fog lights, which are replaced by more air intakes to feed the hungry engine and cool the brakes. Under the disguise of the car in our pictures there are also squared-off Quattro-aping front and rear wheels arches, aluminium-effect wing mirrors, the obligatory RS twin oval exhaust pipes, plus active aerodynamics in the front bumper and rear boot spoiler. Compare the spyshots to our 2008 scoop and you can see how similar the two cars look.
The RS5 will be unveiled later in 2009, before production starts in early 2010. Expect prices to start at around £55,000.
What about this facelift?
Look closely at this RS5’s rear lights and you’ll be able to spot LEDs and (wait for it) a different position for the reverse lights. The tweaks are part of changes that will appear across the A5 range in 2010. There’ll also be front and rear bumper tweaks, but this is Audi’s best looking car and Ingolstadt doesn’t want to mess with a winning recipe.
The more significant changes will be under the beautiful bodywork, where the S5 Coupe’s 4.2-litre V8 will be replaced by the Cabriolet’s supercharged 3.0-litre V6, while stop/start will spread across the majority of the range.
>>Audi RS5 or BMW M3? Or are you waiting for the AMG version of the E-class Coupe? Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say