When was the last time you played a CD? Or shopped at a department store? Or used a landline telephone? Even if you have, bet you don’t do it as often as you used to. That’s because consumers find these such things desirable.
And so it goes for coupes, a form of automobile fading from favor as buyers choose practical over sexy. It’s why women in New York City are suddenly wearing army boots rather than pumps, flats or sneakers.
Yet there remains a segment of the buying public who prefer coupes over sedans.
For them, Audi makes the A5, a two-door sibling to the four-door A4. And with a starting price of $42,400, it proves to be a fairly fetching proposition. But it becomes far more lust-worthy when its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is replaced by a twin-turbo V-6 tied to quattro all-wheel drive. That’s when the A5 becomes the RS 5, a track-worthy rival to the BMW M4 and the Mercedes-AMG C63 coupe. And thoughtfully, Audi offers it as a two-door coupe or five-door Sportback. Our test covers the two-door coupe.
While we drove a 2021 model, the 2022 Audi RS 5 remains unchanged, with the exception of some option packages. Given the RS 5’s high-style fashion quotient, you might opt for the new $2,000 Bronze Styling Package adds 20-inch wheels with a milled, bronze finish and shod with summer performance tires, matte carbon exterior front spoiler and rear diffuser, bronze stitching in the cabin, matte carbon exterior mirror housings, and other black styling elements.
Or perhaps you’d prefer the $1,600 Black Optics Package that provides a murdered-out look on 20-inch wheels. But the one to get is the $5,400 Dynamic Plus Package, which increases the RS 5’s top speed to 174 mph and adds ceramic front brakes, a carbon engine cover, and gray brake calipers. Our 2021 model had the $12,300 Launch Edition Package, which adds elements of various Audi options, including the Dynamic Steering option, Black Optics Package, RS Design sport exhaust, a head-up display, top view camera system and parking assist.
Our car had the Black Optics Package, which added a suitable menace to the otherwise upscale, suburban-friendly coupe. The latest RS 5 lacks some of the previous generation’s sweeping grace; it appears a bit more upright. This lends it an air of being more of a GT, or grand tourer, than a true sports car.
But it thankfully lacks some of the juvenile excesses that mar some sports coupes, making for a handsome, sophisticated, mature two-door. It’s as if there where adults in the room when it was designed.
The same can be said of the cabin, which thankfully embraces Audi’s long tradition of sober, sensible interiors that are easy to live with. The air-conditioning vents create a strong horizontal motif on the interior that visually separate the infotainment touchscreen from the climate controls below it. The cabin offers bountiful space up front, but quite a bit less in the rear, a coupe custom that will bother none of its buyers. Fit, finish and quality fo materials was excellent. Overall, the design is quite subdued for such a sporty machine.
When you opt for the RS 5, you get a choice of one powertrain: a 24-valve DOHC twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6, 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, and quattro all-wheel drive. Less models get turbocharged 4-cylinders.
Safety and Technology
While forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking are standard, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist are optional. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash-tested the A5 Coupe or RS 5 Coupe. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has tested the A5, and gives it a Good rating.
The Audi’s 10.1-inch touchscreen is mounted high on the dashboard, and is very easy to use. It features standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. A 19-speaker, 755-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system is optional. The RS 5 also comes with Audi’s virtual cockpit, a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument display that’s customizable.
2021 Audi RS 5 Coupe specifications:
|Dimension||L: 184.9 inches/W: 54 inches/H: 79.9 inches/Wheelbase: 108.8 inches|
|Powertrain||2.9-liter, DOHC twin-turbocharged V-6, 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, and quattro all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Economy||18 mpg city/25 mpg highway/20 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||444 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $75,100; As tested: $89,040, including $1,045 destination and delivery charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
This car strikes a balance that’s particularly difficult to achieve. It goes like stink and possesses an inordinate amount of grip, whether powering down a straightaway or tackling the twisties. It remains flat as well, quelling body motions that arise. Yet it’s also impressively comfortable, without the vertebrae-shattering ride you might expect given its performance.
While the Quattro system can send as much as 85% of its power to the rear wheels, it feels a bit more neutral when pushed than its competitors. This makes it a bit less fun as well. But there’s still plenty of pleasure to be found flogging this fine fellow.
The 2021 Audi RS 5 delivers blistering performance in an envelope that’s becoming increasingly rare — like good manners or common courtesy. Its exquisite interior’s refinement and high quality make it an easy vehicle to live with thanks to its low-key opulence. And its deft balance of fun and comfort lend it an enticing aura. It all adds up to a polished performer, another desirable driving device from Ingolstadt.
2021 Audi RS 5 — Frequently Asked Questions
How much is an Audi RS 5?
It starts at $71,100. For 2022, that price rises by $800.
Is the Audi RS 5 fast?
With 444 horsepower on tap, Audi says that the RS 5 reaches 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.
What is the cheapest Audi car?
The A3, with a starting price of $33,900.