"Lots of acceleration and a quality interior balance out the Audi RS5's slightly mundane feel."
The Audi RS5 was launched in the 2010 to mark the 30th anniversary of the classic Audi Quattro, and honoured it well by adding more power and introducing a new level of technological innovation. Easily rivalling the likes of the Mercedes C63 AMG and BMW M3, the RS5 houses a massively powerful 4.2-litre V8, the same engine, in fact, as is used in the Audi R8 supercar. The four-wheel drive is managed by a seven-speed, semi-automatic gearbox that helps make it a very respectable road car that's very easy to drive, but always hints at what it can really do if you put your foot down. Based on the Audi A5 Coupe, the exterior dimensions have been beefed up, with mesh grilles being added to the front and larger wheels all round (with wider wheel arches to accommodate them). Inside, four passengers should be able to fit comfortably, while the interior is well constructed from high-quality materials and some model-specific touches designed to really make it stand out from the rest of the A5 range. The main caveat is that it's not quite as awesome to drive as Audi suggests.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
With a quoted combined fuel economy figure of 26.9mpg, the Audi RS5 will certainly set you back a bit at the pumps – as you can be sure that the reality is even worse, especially if you like to drive it to its full potential. But it's actually a little better than the BMW M3, and its 246g/km of CO2 emissions means it sits in a lower tax bracket but will cost £445 in annual road tax. Also, servicing, tyres, replacement parts and insurance will expensive, too, so, whichever way you look at it, the RS5 is going to cost a lot to run.
Interior & comfort
Much like the drive, the RS5 is comfortable enough but won't break any records for sheer driving luxury. It's fitted with automatic adaptive suspension, which means it can be comfy on most surfaces, driving at any speed. Long-distance driving is fairly easy, even with some road noise intruding into the interior because of the RS5's large low-profile tyres, thanks to some suitably padded front seats. Anyone in the back, however, is far less cared about or catered for, with only really enough space back there for children.
Practicality & boot space
Well, having back seats that are really only practical for children doesn’t do the RS5 any favours in this category. Sure, once you’ve actually got a grown-up back there, the seats themselves are comfortable enough, but access is beyond tight, even compared to the RS5's main competitors. Plus, there isn’t much head or legroom. Fortunately, the 455-litre boot does expand to 829 litres of space when the standard-fit split-fold rear seats are folded flat, which proves much more useful. Up front, the dashboard and controls are nicely, clearly laid out and built from decent-quality materials. Plus there are lots of storage cubbies and handy nooks dotted around to stash your bits and pieces.
Reliability & safety
Audi has a reliability record that's in line with the rest of the Volkswagen Group (which it is part of), but even so, it still only got to number 10 in the manufacturers rankings of the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. That was actually a rise of five places on its 2012 position, too, which reflects a tendency to yo-yo up and down the rankings. The RS5 doesn’t feature in the survey but it does feels very well made, with the interior constructed of high-quality materials and the doors closing with a very satisfying thud. The V8 petrol engine has been tried and tested in a number of other Audi models, so has a proven track record, while the RS5 also comes fitted with plenty of safety equipment, including six airbags, electronic stability control (ESP), ISOFIX child seat anchor points and massive brakes. You can also add optional extras such as adaptive xenon headlights, lane departure and blind-spot warning.
Engines, drive & performance
Here's where we get to the heart of the matter – all that power is modulated and channelled through the four-wheel drive and its sophisticated stability and traction control systems. Which, in reality, makes it a highly competent car – with all the slightly chilly indifference that that phrase suggests. You never feel as involved with the RS5 as you should, and it definitely isn’t as much fun to drive as the BMW M3. That four-wheel drive does mean that it easily adapts to any weather conditions, so it's easy to drive fast, even in wet weather. You can also tweak the set-up – accelerator, steering, exhaust – using the Drive Select computer system to fit your needs. Unless your need is total control and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants thrills that is. All the technology is in service of a 444bhp V8 petrol engine that launches the RS5 from 0-62mph in only 4.5 seconds.
Price, value for money & options
Being the Audi A5 range topper, the RS5 will cost you a lot of money to own. The sheer power of the engine and the high equipment and accessory levels do sweeten the pill, but it still costs double that of the entry-level A5 coupe. All RS5 models are fitted with leather upholstery, a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox and adaptive suspension - a system that automatically adjusts the suspension to fit the driving conditions you may encounter. Resale values should be strong, in part because of the RS5's relative rarity, so second-hand deals should keep prices high.