"Lots of acceleration and quality comforts balance out a slightly mundane feel."
Audi launched the RS5 in 2010 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the classic Audi Quattro. The RS5 has a hugely powerful 4.2-litre V8 under the bonnet - the same as the one in the R8 supercar. Combined with a seven-speed, semi-automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, the RS5 is a very competent road car that is easy to drive at speed. It's based on the A5 Coupe, but the body has been given a purposeful makeover, with mesh grilles up front, big wheels and wider wheelarches. Inside, there's room for four and the cabin is well made, with some neat, model-specific touches to make it stand out from the rest of the A5 range.
Four-wheel drive and sophisticated traction and stability control systems mean the Audi RS5 is massively competent, but it lacks involvement when compared to the BMW M3. It's hugely versatile though and is very easy to drive fast in either wet or dry conditions. Drivers can also fine-tune throttle, steering and exhaust settings via the computerised Drive Select system. All this technology is backed-up by a 444bhp V8 petrol engine that catapults the RS5 from 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds.
Because the RS5 is fitted with automatic adaptive suspension, the suspension can be comfortable on most surfaces at any speed. The front seats are very comfortable, and, despite some road noise entering the cabin from the large low-profile tyres, long distances can be driven with ease. Rear passengers are poorly catered for, though, and the beautifully trimmed seats are best suited to children.
Audi has a very strong reliability record, and the RS5 feels very well made. The interior materials are all high quality and the doors close with a reassuring thud. The V8 engine has been used in a number of other models, so has a proven track record. The RS5 also has lots of safety equipment, including six airbags, stability control and huge brakes.
The RS5's rear seats are comfortable, but they can be tricky to access and don't offer much head or legroom. They do split and fold, however, which makes the decent-sized boot even bigger. The front cabin is well designed, with plenty of storage areas and useful cubbies.
Value for money
The RS5 is the flagship Audi A5 model, so it commands a hefty price tag. The engine and high spec do help to soften the blow, but this car costs twice the price of an entry-level A5 coupe. All RS5 models come with leather upholstery, a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox and adaptive suspension, a system that automatically adjusts the suspension settings to suit the road conditions.
The Audi RS5 is capable of returning 27mpg from its V8 engine, which, while thirsty, is a better figure than a BMW M3. It also sits in a slightly lower emissions tax-bracket, resulting in annual bills of £445. But, while it beats its closest rival, the RS5 is far from being a cheap car to run. Servicing, tyres and replacement parts are all very expensive.