► 444bhp halo Audi RS5 with motorsport breeding
► First RS since Quattro become Audi Sport
► 0-62mph in under 4sec, 174mph top end
You could view BMW’s evolution of the M3/M4 with the much-needed Competition Package as routine housekeeping or, now that Audi has revealed its next-gen 444bhp RS5, a frantic attempt to head this new threat off at the pass. With the package in place the BMW boasts exactly the same peak power output as Audi’s latest RS performance coupe.
Created by Audi’s freshly-rebranded Quattro performance Division – it’s Audi Sport now, if you wouldn’t mind, with former Lamborghini man Stephan Winkelmann at the helm – the RS5 has plenty riding on it, both in terms of corporate pride and individual reputation. On first acquaintance, it looks unlikely to disappoint.
The new Audi RS5 is one of many world debuts at the Geneva motor show. Check out our guide here.
A V6 to rule them all?
It’s all relative, but 444bhp and 442 lb ft of torque from a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 puts the Audi between its German rivals, the 469bhp/479 lb ft C63 Coupe (in ‘standard’ non-S) and 444bhp/406lb ft M4 Competition Package. Of course, the AMG uses a V8 and M car a straight-six.
With all-wheel drive as standard, calibrated with a racy 40:60 front/rear drive split, Audi’s going on record with 0-62mph in 3.9sec – quicker than both rwd rivals – and a top speed of 174mph with the limiter-free dynamic package in place. Weight (1655kg) is down compared to the previous-gen RS5 (a delicious carbon roof as an almost essential cost-option), helping sharpen performance, and Audi’s engine boffins are promising lag-free response.
The V6’s turbos sit in the hot vee of the engine, for the shortest possible pipework and sharpest uptake, and the torque delivery’s so broad you’d have to be asleep to drop out of it – peak thrust chimes in at 1900rpm and doesn’t let up until 5000rpm. The engine’s generous output passes through an eight-speed tiptronic transmission with optional rear sport differential.
Oddly, Audi is super-proud of the RS5’s efficiency, with a claimed 17% improvement in fuel consumption over the previous model. Nice to have, but anyone lying awake at night worrying about the ice caps would do well to look elsewhere in the range.
CAR ran the last Audi RS5 as a daily driver. Read our long-term test review here
An embarrassment of grip
The RS5 takes advantage of the current generation A4/A5’s sophisticated platform to ride on bespoke five-link suspension front and rear, re-calibrated by Audi Sport for increased agility and greater pliancy over the last RS5.
As standard the car sits much lower than an S5 (with the RS5 on standard 19-inch or optional 20-inch rims) but the committed can also up the ante with the RS sport set-up, complete with dynamic ride control, ceramic brakes and polarising dynamic steering, which subtly alters the steering’s rate of response depending on the circumstances.
The exterior: a blizzard of bulges, grilles and box-arches
RS Audis pride themselves on being as aesthetically subtle as a hen do, and the new RS5 is no exception. 15mm wider trademark quattro blisters increase the width while a unique front end houses a wider, flatter grille, myriad vents and Audi’s jewel-like headlights, with matrix LEDs an option.
The rear end is suitably butch with a meaty diffuser and oval exhausts – Audi’s promising an ‘incomparably full-bodied RS sound’. Exterior options include three appearance packages – black, carbon and matt aluminium – and a unique paint shade: Sonoma green metallic.
Inside you get a barrage of RS logos, diamond-stitched RS sports seats, a flat-bottomed wheel, detailing picked out in contrasting red, and all the usual luxuries in what is one of the finest mass-produced cockpits on the market, including the still-impressive Virtual Cockpit configurable driver’s display.
The new RS5 arrives in dealers in June 2017.
See more from the 2017 Geneva motor show