2019 Audi RS5 Sportback first drive review: Performance without compromise

    Enjoyable truth: The RS5 Sportback is the primary car in Audi’s historical past to launch in the US earlier than some other market. That is partially as a result of the automaker sees the US as its high precedence for brand spanking new Audi Sport fashions, particularly since we do not get the candy, candy RS4 and RS6 automobiles bought overseas. However actually, the largest driving pressure behind this US-focused launch is that Audi’s A5 and S5 Sportback fashions handily outsell their coupe and cabriolet counterparts within the States, and the corporate expects the identical to be true with the brand new RS5.

    The earlier these hatchbacks get right here, the higher. As a result of identical to with A5 and S5, the RS5 Sportback is totally the one to get.

    No efficiency loss

    Okay, that is not technically true. Audi quotes the RS5 Sportback as having a Three.Eight-second Zero-60 acceleration time, whereas the RS5 Coupe hits 60 miles per hour in Three.7 seconds, largely as a result of five-door’s 89-pound weight penalty and barely elevated coefficient of drag. That mentioned, having launched the hell out of each fashions, I guarantee you this one-tenth-of-a-second discrepancy is totally imperceptible from behind the wheel.

    The greatness begins beneath the hood, the place you may discover Audi’s 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6. No, it is not as magical and great and excellent because the naturally aspirated four.2-liter V8 of Audi’s prior RS5 fashions — to not point out the four.Zero-liter V8 Mercedes makes use of in its AMG C63. However with 444 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque on supply, the latter of which comes on robust at 1,900 rpm, it is actually no weakling. In reality, at Three.Eight seconds to 60 mph, the all-wheel-drive RS5 Sportback is faster than its four-door Mercedes-AMG C63 S and BMW M3 rivals.

    An eight-speed automated handles shifting duties, and whilst you’d suppose a dual-clutch gearbox could be simply the ticket for an RS mannequin, I’ve no complaints about this ZF-sourced Tiptronic transmission. A traditional torque converter means off-the-line begins are as clean as they’re highly effective, and when left to its personal units, the Tiptronic executes buttery shifts in Consolation mode and crisp, responsive cog-swaps while you’re giving it the beans in Dynamic. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters supply fast up- and downshifts for folk who’d moderately select their very own journey, although the plastic items themselves do not supply any actual tactile satisfaction.

    The whole lot the Coupe can do, the Sportback can do — and perhaps higher.


    Each RS5 Sportback comes commonplace with 19-inch wheels wrapped in 265/35-series summer time tires, however Audi says it expects most individuals to step as much as 20-inch rollers, with their grippier 275/30-series rubber. The bigger rolling inventory does not noticeably enhance harshness over small pavement imperfections — after all, the RS5’s suspension is fairly stiff to start with. The Quattro all-wheel-drive system defaults to a 30:70 entrance/rear energy cut up, and may ship as a lot as 85 p.c of the accessible thrust rearward, the place a typical sport differential can redirect torque aspect to aspect as wanted.

    You may need the non-compulsory Dynamic Bundle for its RS sport suspension with Dynamic Trip Management, which lets you tailor the experience high quality to totally different ranges of firmness. However you may actually need it so you possibly can unlock the Dynamic Steering choice, which provides variable help and ratios in Consolation and Auto modes, however makes use of a set 13.5:1 ratio in Dynamic mode, for assured, predictable response — although it nonetheless lacks actual communication by means of the wheel. The Dynamic Bundle additionally will get you a sport exhaust, which sounds killer, although I want Audi let a bit extra of that candy rear-end roar permeate the cabin. You get a whole lot of “enhanced” engine sound contained in the cockpit, however no less than passers-by can benefit from the soundtrack.

    A Dynamic Plus Bundle ups the punch with carbon ceramic entrance brakes and an elevated 174-mph high finish, each of that are just about pointless except you are recurrently taking your RS5 Sportback to trace days. After all, whereas working at 165 mph on an open stretch of unrestricted German autobahn, I am endlessly grateful for the spectacular, surefooted energy of these ceramic stoppers when the slow-moving Peugeot folks mover unexpectedly strikes into the far left lane.

    The Sportback form higher fits the RS5’s quick grand-tourer ethos.


    That mentioned, this kind of high-speed grand touring is de facto the place the RS5 Sportback is most at residence. Gratifying as it’s on winding roads by means of the Bavarian Black Forest, I discover the expertise a bit of too buttoned-up for its personal good. Positive, the rear finish simply rotates with the steadiness management set to ESC Sport, however since 60 p.c of the Sportback’s weight is located over the automotive’s nostril, the RS5 tends to dive beneath braking, shifting weight off the rear axle regardless of the vast majority of the automotive’s energy being despatched to the again. A bit of extra stability, a bit of extra steering really feel and rather less digital engine noise would do wonders.

    As a sporty GT automotive and excellent each day driver, you possibly can actually do worse than an RS5 Sportback — I am going to take this Audi over the too-numb BMW M3 any day. But when it is thrills and chills you search, the Mercedes-AMG C63 will seemingly supply extra smiles per mile.

    Type and performance

    The Audi’s largest benefit over its German rivals, and certainly, the explanation you may purchase one as a substitute of an RS5 Coupe, is the added versatility afforded by that Sportback form. Increase the ability liftback and you will find 21.Eight cubic toes of house — double that of the two-door RS5 — which simply swallows a few massive suitcases and backpacks. Fold the again seats flat and cargo quantity will increase to a significantly helpful 35 cubic toes.

    Past the elevated cargo-carrying talents, let’s not overlook, the Sportback is healthier suited to hold folks. Rear-seat passengers get an additional inch of headroom and an extra 2.four inches of legroom in contrast with the coupe, and a second set of doorways means they do not must do the ungraceful seat-tilt shimmy with a purpose to entry these again seats. Sportback fashions additionally add a pair of USB ports so rear riders can maintain smartphones and tablets good and charged.

    The RS5 Sportback’s inside is basically the identical as its Coupe counterpart, although Digital Cockpit and embedded navigation are actually commonplace options.


    Your eyes could desire two-door shapes, however I really suppose the RS5 Sportback is a better-looking automotive, full cease. I am unable to get sufficient of that graciously sloping roofline and quick rear deck, punctuated by the delicate, RS5-specific lip spoiler. Dimensionally talking, the Sportback is 2.Three inches longer than an RS5 Coupe, and is just an inch taller total.

    You’ll be able to order the Sportback with all the identical look packages because the RS5 Coupe, together with the Black Optic Bundle, Black Optic Carbon Bundle or Matte Alu Optic Carbon Bundle, all of which add distinctive 20-inch wheels and supply their very own touches to exterior bits just like the entrance lip, aspect sills and decklid spoiler. You may get black Audi rings and exterior badges, too — one thing new for the Sportback, although do not be shocked if this feature additionally reveals up on the 2019 mannequin yr RS5 Coupe.

    Similar consolation, extra commonplace tech

    Except for the rear compartment, the RS5 Sportback’s cabin is not any totally different from its coupe kin. You get the identical RS sport seats (with warmth and therapeutic massage), carbon-look inlays, aluminum trim and a panoramic sunroof, commonplace. In typical Audi vogue, the cockpit has a usually clear design, with a easy row of local weather controls beneath the central Eight.Three-inch display. Audi’s MMI infotainment system is managed by a big dial with shortcut buttons within the heart console, and bundles Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

    Audi says the vast majority of RS5 Coupe consumers are going all in on tech choices, so it simply determined to make issues like the wonderful 12.Three-inch Digital Cockpit show, embedded navigation and the internet-enabled Join providers commonplace on the Sportback. Wi-fi smartphone charging and direct tire stress monitoring are additionally added to the checklist of 2019 RS5 Sportback commonplace gear.

    The RS5 Sportback is extra useful, simply pretty much as good to drive and, arguably, a bit better-looking than the RS5 Coupe. That is the one to get.


    A no-compromise providing

    The added tech gear means the 2019 Audi RS5 Sportback will carry a $74,200 base value when it arrives in US showrooms later this yr, not together with $995 for vacation spot. Sure, that is a $four,300 enhance over the $69,900 RS5 Coupe, however, once more, nearly nobody is shopping for the coupe with out these choices. I am going to guess to doughnuts the same value/gear enhance is in retailer for 2019 mannequin yr RS5 Coupes, too.

    Actually, Audi’s mission is to supply the identical nice RS5 bundle throughout two physique kinds; the Sportback provides a welcome heap of each day usability with no tangible efficiency trade-offs. Plus, it is kind of in a category of 1 — BMW does not do an M4 Gran Coupe, and the Mercedes-AMG C63 sticks to conventional sedan and coupe shapes. Meaning the Sportback may attraction to extra than simply would-be RS5 Coupe consumers. And for Audi, that is a complete win-win.

    Editors’ notice: Roadshow accepts multiday car loans from producers with a purpose to present scored editorial opinions. All scored car opinions are accomplished on our turf and on our phrases. Nonetheless, for this characteristic, the producer lined journey prices. That is frequent within the auto business, as it’s miles extra economical to ship journalists to automobiles than to ship automobiles to journalists.

    The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s editorial group are our personal and we don’t settle for paid editorial content material.

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