First Drive: 2012 Audi RS5 Coupe –

12 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on First Drive: 2012 Audi RS5 Coupe –
Audi RS5

September 14, 2010

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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Ascari, Spain #8211; It’s somehow fitting that the launch of the Audi RS5 Coupe in southern Spain would be a soggy one. Audi’s new V8 super-coupe, which we won’t see in Canada for another year, celebrates 30 years of Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive – a technology that all but defines the Ingolstadt automaker. Three decades ago, Audi proved that four driven wheels was not the just the provenance of off-road vehicles.

It made road-going cars grip and go in inclement (and fair) weather like they had never done before.

2012 Audi RS5. Click image to enlarge

And so it was that the rain in Spain fell steadily on the Ascari racetrack as we negotiated the twists and turns of this beautiful private course in Audi’s latest “R” car. The RS5, like the R8, the RS6 (we don’t get it) and the TT RS (we will get it), is hand crafted at Quattro GmbH #8211; Audi’s high-performance arm that is headquartered in Neckarsulm, Germany.

It gets a massaged version of the high-revving 4.2-litre FSI naturally aspirated direct-injection V8 first seen in the 2008 RS4 sedan and now found in the R8 4.2. Here it makes 450 hp (up 30) while torque remains at 317 lb.-ft. from 4,000-6,000 rpm. This engine sounds heavenly and winds to 8,500 r.p.m.

An on-demand oil pump, simple regenerative energy system and other tweaks help the RS5 achieve 10.8 L/100 km on the EU cycle, which Audi claims to be best in class.

The only available transmission is a seven-speed twin-clutch R tronic, which works in concert with the latest-gen quattro system that features a lighter, faster-acting “crown gear” centre differential and front and rear torque vectoring wherein the inside wheels are braked slightly in turns to help the car rotate. Furthering this mission is the optional rear sport differential that will overdrive the outside wheel in a bend, essentially pushing the car around.

2012 Audi RS5. Click image to enlarge

Standard Audi Drive Select (comfort, auto and dynamic) dials up varying degrees of sportiness for the transmission, throttle, exhaust and servotronic steering, and if the car is equipped with the optional adaptive dampers (Dynamic Ride Control), those too. My tester was fully loaded, and with the dynamic setting selected, fully cocked for track work.

So you’ve got buckets of technology on your side to keep the pace, and the shiny side, up. What’s it like out there?

Feels like a hyper Audi. Fast, supremely capable, forgiving and grip for days; yet with that V8 perched out front, it exhibits more initial understeer than the BMW M3 and isn’t quite as communicative or tactile. So it’s a bit more aloof, a tad more clinical, but a devastatingly quick and an effective tool nonetheless.

All the mechanical and electronic do-dads work in seamless harmony.

Braking duties are ably handled by 365-mm front discs squeezed by eight-piston monoblock aluminum calipers and 324-mm rear discs with single-piston calipers.

2012 Audi RS5. Click image to enlarge

On the wet, mountainous and foggy route leading away from the track, the RS5 was the model of comfort and security #8211; the “auto” setting keeping the ride supple yet firming things up when needed. Yes, the steering feels a little wooden and artificially weighted, but is far from a deal breaker.

Sports seats with alcantara centre strips, black faced gauges, special trim and the addition of a lap timer and oil temp display separate this model from lesser 5s.

Audi RS5

On the few occasions when we had to dispense with slower traffic, a couple tugs on the left shift paddle along with a healthy prod on the go pedal produced eye-widening forward thrust.

Did I mention how fabulous this car sounds? At higher rpms (or with the push of a button in the drive select cluster), two flaps in the exhaust system open, allowing this hand-built engine to proudly bark its baritone song.

With the death knell of the V8 tolling faintly in the distance, this might be a good time to bust open the piggy bank.

2012 Audi RS5. Click image to enlarge

Penned by Walter deSilva and launched as a 2008 model, the A5 Coupe is arguably the prettiest car in Audi’s line-up. In RS5 trim, some menace creeps into equation. It sits 20 mm lower than the standard A5, features sharply defined fender blisters (a nod to the pioneering Audi ur-quattro of 1980), rides on 19-inch alloys (pictured are the optional 20s) and gets a single frame grill with an anthracite grey rhomboid pattern grid. Below are larger air intakes and a front splitter.

Two healthy oval exhaust tips dominate the rear end, and a rear deck spoiler deploys at 120 km/h.

While Audi didn’t mention the “M” word once during this launch, there is no doubt they have the benchmark $71,300 414-hp V8 M3 Coupe squarely in the crosshairs. At 1725 kg, the Audi is heavier and is less of a delicate instrument #8211; it uses more force and technology to achieve its goals.

The Canadian cars will likely have all the tricky tech stuff as standard kit, so when it comes to pricing, don’t expect this hand crafted Audi to match the volume-built M3’s bottom line.

On the bright side, you’ve got another year to stuff the piggy bank.

2012 Audi RS5 Coupe

Estimated price: $80,000 to $85,000

Audi RS5
Audi RS5
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